Faith Matters

Logo for the World Meeting of Families unveiled by bishops

Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin Eamon Martin and Diarmuid Martin preparing for the World Meeting of Families. Picture by John McElroy

IRELAND'S Catholic Bishops have launched the official logo for the World Meeting of Families 2018.

Formal preparations are underway for the 9th World Meeting of Families and these are being led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin as President and host, and by Father Timothy Bartlett in his role as Secretary General.

Last May, Pope Francis chose The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World as the theme for this major pastoral celebration which will take place in Dublin from August 22-26 2018.

At their Winter General Meeting, bishops encouraged the faithful to pray the Prayer to the Holy Family which has been written by Pope Francis and which he published in this year's apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).

They also launched the official logo, at the heart of which is the family.

Family members are represented in different ages and roles while walking together in communion and love, helping one another through the journey of life. The cross and the semi-circle represent God's love, flowing from the cross, embracing and supporting all the families of the world. No one is excluded, no one is left behind. Couples, elderly, single, widowed, consecrated, clergy, children, all are important members of our families and all are invited to participate in WMOF2018.

A map of the world shows that families from all around the globe will come to Ireland for what will be a truly international event. In his encyclical letter, Laudato Si', Pope Francis reminds people that families have a vital role to play in caring for common home. He reminds people that Saint Francis of Assisi described earth itself as "like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us". The World Meeting of Families will explore how families, as our first home, can help us to care for our common home.

The red semicircle with the cross on the top echoes the logo of the Archdiocese of Dublin, which is the host diocese. As well as representing God's love, flowing from the cross, embracing all the families of the world, the semicircle and cross also represent the `dome' of the Church. In the logo, as in real life, the Church embraces the family, protects the family and supports the family. When our families are stronger, society is stronger, and the Church is stronger.

The cross is the ultimate symbol of the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. Self-sacrificing love is at the very heart of marriage and family life. The rays represent the grace of the Holy Spirit, flowing from the cross and uniting our families in love. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus dwells within our families and gives us the strength to take up our own crosses and follow him. The cross used the logo is also a symbol of Ireland's Christian roots and history. Known by many as the `Papal Cross', it stands in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, where, in 1979, more than one million Catholics gathered to welcome, listen and pray with Saint John Paul II, who was also the founder of World Meeting of Families.

In The Joy of Love, Pope Francis speaks several times of marriage and the family as the "living icon" of the Most Holy Trinity. As the family, through marriage, comes together in mutual self-giving, communion and love, it reflects the mystery of the Holy Trinity and immerses itself in "the mystery from which all true love flows".

The tri-spiral swirl in the logo draws from ancient Celtic imagery, to reflect this truth. These triple spirals are found on ancient stones and monuments around Ireland. As Christianity came to Ireland, the tri-spiral, or triskele, began to be used as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, together with the well-known shamrock, associated with St Patrick. St Patrick, tradition has it, used the shamrock to explain the mystery of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit united, as one family: one God and three Divine Persons, in a perfect communion of love.

The logo includes the date and location chosen by Pope Francis to host the event.

The Bishops said: "It is a great joy and responsibility for us in Ireland to host this event and the logo includes a direct invitation to families and individuals from all over the world to come and join us for the event."

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