“A country rich in beauty and natural resources, but marked by much poverty”. This is how Pope Francis described Madagascar, the country he visited on the second leg of his apostolic journey to Africa, as he recalled the highlights of his trip in his audience today. “I hoped that, inspired by their traditional spirit of solidarity, the people of Madagascar were able to overcome adversity and build a future of development, by combining respect for the environment and social justice”, pope Francis told the 12,000 faithful present in St. Peter’s Square today. “As a prophetic sign in this direction – he added -, I visited Akamasoa, the City of Friendship, founded by a missionary, Father Pedro Opeka. There, people try to combine work, dignity, care for the poorest, and education for children. All animated by the Gospel. At the granite quarry in Akamasoa, I prayed to God for the workers”. “Then I met the contemplative nuns”, the Pope said, stressing the fact that “without faith and prayer one cannot build a city worthy of man”. “With the bishops of the country, I renewed the commitment to be ‘sowers of peace and hope’, in caring for God’s people, especially the poor, and our priests”, Pope Francis continued: “Together we venerated Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo, the first Malagasy woman to be elevated to the altars”. Finally, I joined young people, “- there were so many young people, so many of them! – in a vigil full of testimonies, songs and dances”. “In Antananarivo, we celebrated Sunday Mass in the vast Diocesan Field”, Pope Francis recalled: “As in the streets of Galilee, large crowds gathered around the Lord Jesus. And finally, in Saint Michel College, I met the priests, the consecrated men and women, and the seminarians of Madagascar – a meeting in the sign of praise to God”.