The ancient practice of orienting church buildings East to West – with the entrance facing West and the altar toward the East – was symbolic of the connection that exists between light and hope, Pope Francis said.
“What does it mean to be a Christian? It means looking toward the light, continuing to make a profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped in the night and darkness,” Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience on 2nd August.
With temperatures moving toward a forecasted 100 degrees, the pope resumed his audiences indoors after a month’s hiatus. He also resumed his series of audience talks about Christian hope.
He began by explaining how in ancient times the physical setting of a church building held symbolic importance for believers because the sun sets in the West, “where the light dies,” but rises in the East, where “the dawn reminds us of Christ, the sun risen from on high.”
In fact, he said, using the “language of the cosmos,” it was customary to have those about to be baptised proclaim their renunciation of Satan facing West and their profession of faith in God facing East.
Picture: Pope Francis greets the crowd during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on 2nd August. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters).