By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Through the word of God and the sacraments, Christians can be “seekers of the truth” and nurture the bonds of love that unite their communities, Pope Francis said.

“Jesus is the truth, in a sense that is not only universal but also communal and personal; and the challenge is to live the search for truth today in the daily life of the church, of Christian communities,” the pope said Sept. 17 while meeting with pilgrims from two Italian dioceses.

The group from the northern Diocese of Alessandria were in Rome to commemorate the 450th anniversary of St. Pius V’s death, while those from the Diocese of Spoleto-Norcia were young pilgrims who recently received or were preparing to receive the sacrament of confirmation.

Born in Alessandria in 1504, St. Pius V was known for reform of the Mass and his efforts to reform the church and rein in on corruption.

Pope Francis said that while his predecessor was a reformer “who made courageous choices,” it would be “an anachronistic mistake evaluate certain works of St. Pius V with today’s mentality.”

“So, too, we must be careful not to reduce him to a nostalgic, embalmed memory, but to grasp his teaching and witness. With this insight, we can see that the backbone of his entire life was faith,” he said.

The reforms St. Pius made to the liturgy, like those made after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said, were done to ensure that the Eucharist “becomes the source of community life.”

The late pontiff’s teachings on the importance of the sacraments and of prayer, the pope added, will help the diocese on its “path of pastoral and missionary conversion.”

Addressing the young pilgrims from the Diocese of Spoleto-Norcia, a diocese that experienced major damage from an earthquake in 2016, Pope Francis encouraged them to become “a living stone to build up the Christian community” in their families, in their parishes and with their friends.

“To be living stones; this is possible with the power of the Holy Spirit, who in confirmation confirms you as baptized, children of God and members of the church,” the pope said.

“So, I leave you with these two words,” he added. “Baptism and stone. Go forward with this: to build the house on rock.”