The signing of the document took place in Italy, in the location of the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto. Loreto is a small town in north-eastern Italy. Since the end of the 13th century it has been host to a building which tradition holds is the home where the Virgin Mary was born, raised, and greeted by the Angel Gabriel. The building is said to have been brought to Loreto by angels.
Pope Francis spoke to those gathered at the Holy House and said he wanted to sign the document on the date and at the place of the Annunciation to highlight how the Annunciation reveals what is necessary in the vocational process. That is, listening to God’s word and God’s will, inquisitive discernment and bold decision-making.
God always makes the first move, offering people the gift of his love, Pope Francis said.
“One must be ready and willing to listen and welcome God’s voice,” which is hard to recognise if life is too “noisy” or agitated, he said. Quiet and extended reflection is necessary, he said, if one is going to be able to go below the surface and discover the “moral and spiritual forces” at work in one’s life.
The exhortation will be publicly released on 2 April, which is the memorial of the death of Pope John Paul II. John Paul II was the first Pope to write a letter to the young people of the world in 1985, and the Pope who began World Youth Days.
This exhortation will be for the young people of the world, and parish communities around the world are encouraged to read, meditate on and create change based on what came through the 25 day Synod in October. You can read a summary of the themes of the Synod here.
The last post-synodal apostolic exhortation to be written was Amoris laetitia, which followed the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family.