Pope Francis told me invitation to visit India is ‘the greatest gift’: Modi

Pope Francis told me invitation to visit India is 'the greatest gift'. Modi

PANAJI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that Pope Francis had said that his invitation to visit India is the “greatest gift” he had offered him, while stating that India was a shining beacon of unity in diversity to the world.

Addressing a gathering in Goa on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the state’s Liberation on December 19, 1961, he said: “I was in Italy and Vatican City some time back. I got the opportunity to meet Pope Francis… I have invited him to India and I want to tell you what he said after my invitation. Pope Francis said, ‘This is the greatest gift you have given me’. This is was his affection towards India’s diversity and our vibrant democracy.”

The Prime Minister also said that the identity of India globally is that of a country which is in service of humanity and that the whole world acknowledges India’s spirit of unity in diversity.

Goa too, Modi, said was an example of how people of all communities and religions have lived together furthering the belief of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’.

“Goa is that place which has preserved the holy relics of Georgia’s Queen Ketevan for centuries. Some months back, St Queen Ketevan’s relics were handed over to the Georgian government. St Queen Ketevan’s sacred relics were tracked to the St. Augustine Church in 2005,” Modi said.

The Georgian queen was martyred in Shiraz (in present day Iran) in 1624, after she refused to convert from Christianity to Islam. She was later canonised as a saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Her stoic defiance of religious persecution is believed to have inspired the followers of the Georgian Church even as they secretly carried the relics of their slain queen to Portuguese-held Goa for safe-keeping.

“Friends, during the struggle for Goa’s freedom, everyone fought together, struggled together against foreign rule. The Pintos revolt was led by the native Christians. This is the identity of India. Service of humanity. The whole world acknowledges India’s spirit of unity in diversity,” he also said.

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