Pope Francis thanked the Italian police for their service of maintaining public order and providing security in St Peter's Square and the areas surrounding Vatican territory.
"For all this, I heartily reiterate my esteem and appreciation for your helpfulness and for your dedicated and professional service," the Pope said.
He was speaking at the traditional audience for directors and staff of the Vatican Inspectorate of Public Security was held at Clementine Hall on January 12.
The Inspectorate is the Italian security force that provides security in St Peter's Square and the areas surrounding Vatican territory.
It was created to implement the Lateran Accords between Italy and the Holy See.
The Pope praised their security service to the pilgrims at the Vatican and during during the gatherings and papal visits to Rome, and pastoral visits to Italy.
The Pope encouraged members of the Inspectorate "to persevere in the ideals and intentions" that inspire their life and work.
With all its difficulties, he hoped their work would "always be animated by the desire to help your neighbor and your community."
Pope Francis encouraged them to "courageously offer witness to God's love" everywhere, especially at work, inspired by the Gospel.
"The brothers and sisters that you see every day, and who await a gesture of kindness and welcome from you," he said to the police officers that their service, "may be a symbol of God's closeness to you."
In a world that urgently needs people to build peace by actions rather than words, this service is a practical way to be "artisans of peace," said the Pope.
Pope Francis prayed for them and entrusted them to the protection of Mother Mary and St. Michael, the patron saint of police officers. - With inputs from Vatican News
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