Today we celebrate Mother’s Day.

I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate mothers around the world and, in particular, all those who find the courage to overcome insurmountable obstacles and challenges.

Brave mothers who cross borders, pass through mountains, deserts, seas, barbed wire, holding little ones in their arms, driven by the desire and hope to save their children and give them a future. Mothers who want to protect their children from the violence and atrocities experienced in their countries of origin. A driving force that only a mother’s love can explain.

Mothers who have remained in their countries of origin, and continue to wait for word from their children on the road, of whom they will often know nothing, or whose fate they will know through a message or a phone call, who will have to wait too long before they can hug their children again .

Mothers who every day walk for miles, through arid rural areas or the rubble of cities devastated by war, in order to bring their children food and water.

Women who have become mothers against their will because of abuse suffered along their journey, who have been denied the realisation of motherhood as a celebration of love and family, who have embraced and loved the children born in these situations or have put their babies up for adoption because the pain was too great to bear.

Women who were not mothers, but have become mothers along their journey because they have taken under their wing children who had lost their parents.

The mothers I met and continue to meet on board ships in the Mediterranean and Aegean, in Bangladesh and on many other journeys, whose stories I listen to and with whom I exchange hugs and smiles. A thought for these mothers, these women, who have forgotten what it means to receive a kind gesture, who, holding back tears and fears, are forced to become heroines, a constant source of hope and security for their family, facing unspeakable horrors while outwardly displaying tenacity and faith.

Every mother, whether or not she has experienced such situations, should be able to understand the courage needed to protect children from any adversity, because maternal instinct has no colour.

In this month of May that – in addition to marking Mother’s Day in many countries around the world – is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the first woman who carried a refugee child, my wish is that each one of us can contribute to saving lives and alleviating the suffering of mothers around the world.