"I greet with affection the Russian pilgrims here gathered with Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz. I impart to you and to your beloved homeland a special apostolic benediction," said the Holy Father today.
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz greeted the Pope after the audience and invited him to visit Russia, a trip that his predecessor, John Paul II, was unable to realize.
The Russian pilgrims were from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad and other cities of the federation.
Before the audience, the Russian faithful attended a Eucharistic celebration, concelebrated by Archbishop Kondrusiewicz and Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul II's personal secretary. The Mass was held in the Vatican Grottoes on the day the deceased Pontiff would have been 85 years old.
On May 18, the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow proclaimed a year dedicated to the memory of John Paul II.