Papal Homily at Canonization Mass
"The Celebration of Sanctity Is Renewed in St. Peter’s Square Today"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter's at the canonization Mass of six newly recognized saints.

The homily was given in various languages.

Those canonized were: Stanislaw Soltys of Poland, André Bessette of Canada, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola of Spain, Mary of the Cross MacKillop of Australia, Giulia Salzano of Italy and Camilla Battista da Varano of Italy.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters! The celebration of sanctity is renewed in St. Peter’s Square today. With joy I extend my cordial welcome to you who have come, also from a great distance, to take part in this event. A particular greeting to the cardinals, bishops and superior generals of the institutes founded by the new saints, and to the official delegations and all the civil authorities. Let us try to grasp together what the Lord tells us in the readings that were just proclaimed. This Sunday’s liturgy offers us a fundamental teaching: the necessity to pray always, without tiring. Sometimes we grow tired of prayer, we have the impression that prayer is not very useful for life, that it is not very effective. Thus, we are tempted to dedicate ourselves to activity, to employ every human method to accomplish our goals, and we do not approach God. But Jesus says that we must pray always, and he does this through a specific parable (cf. Luke 18:1-8).

This parable speaks of a judge who does not fear God and does not respect anyone, a judge who does not have a positive attitude, but pursues only his own interests. He does not fear God’s judgment and does not respect his neighbor. The other figure is a widow, a person in a situation of weakness. In the Bible, the widows and the orphans are the most needy classes because they are defenseless and without means. The widow goes to the judge and asks him for justice. Her possibilities of being heard are almost non-existent because the judge despises her and she can put no pressure on him. She cannot even appeal to religious principles because the judge does not fear God. So, this widow seems to be deprived of all recourse. But she insists, she does not tire in asking, she harasses the judge, and thus in the end succeeds in obtaining what she wants from the judge. At this point Jesus reflects, using an “a fortiori” argument: if a dishonest judge in the end allows himself to be convinced by the entreaties of a widow, how much more will God, who is good, listen to those who pray. God in fact is generosity in person, he is merciful, and so he is always disposed to listen to prayers. For this reason, we must not give up hope, but always insist in prayer.

The conclusion of the Gospel passage speaks of faith: “The Son of Man, when he comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). It is a question that intends to awaken a growth of faith in us. It is clear, in fact, that prayer must be the expression of faith, otherwise it is not true prayer. If one does not believe in the goodness of God, he cannot pray in a truly adequate way. Faith is essential as the basis of the attitude of prayer. The six new saints proposed today for veneration by the universal Church made faith such a basis: Stanislaw Soltys, André Bessette, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla Varano.

[In Polish:]

St. Stanislaw Kazimierczyk, a religious of the 15th century, can be an example and an intercessor for us too. His whole life was bound to the Eucharist. First of all in the church of Corpus Domini is Kazimierz, in modern-day Krakow, where with his mother and father, he learned faith and piety; where he took religious vows with the Canons Regular; where he worked as a priest, educator, attentive to the care of the needy. In a particular way, however, he was bound to the Eucharist by the ardent love for Christ present under the species of bread and of wine; living the mystery of death and resurrection, which takes place in a bloodless way in Holy Mass; through the practice of love of neighbor, of which Communion is a source and sign.

[In French:]

Brother André Bessette, originally from Quebec in Canada and a religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, experienced suffering and poverty starting very young. This led him to pay recourse to God in prayer and an intense interior life. As porter of the College of Notre Dame in Montreal, he showed limitless charity and made every effort to relieve the sufferings of those who went to entrust themselves to him.

Though a man of little education, he nevertheless understood where to find the essential of his faith. For him, to believe meant to freely submit himself out of love to the divine will. Abiding everything in the mystery of Jesus, he lived the beatitude of the pure hearts, of personal uprightness. This simplicity has enabled many to see God.

He was responsible for building the Oratory of St. Joseph in Mont Royal, where he would stay as a faithful guardian until his death in 1937.

"Do not try to have your struggles taken away," he said, "rather ask for the grace to carry them well." For him, everything spoke of God and his presence. May we, following him, seek God with simplicity to find him always present in the midst of our lives!

May the example of Brother André always inspire Canadian Christian life!

[In Spanish:]

When the Son of Man comes to bring justice to the chosen ones, will he find faith on earth? (cf. Luke 18:18). Today with consolation and strength contemplating figures such as Mother Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, we can say that yes [he will find faith].

This woman of simple origins -- with a heart upon which God put his seal and whom he would take to himself very quickly -- under the guidance of her Jesuit spiritual directors made the firm resolution to live "only for God." It was a decision maintained with firmness, as she herself would recall when she was about to die. She lived for God and for what he most wanted: to reach everyone, to bring to everyone the hope that does not waver, especially to those who most need it.

"Where there is not a place for the poor, there is no place for me," said the new saint, who, with few resources, inspired other sisters to follow Jesus and dedicate themselves to education and the promotion of the woman. Thus was born the Daughters of Jesus, who today have in their founder a very exalted model to imitate, and a fascinating mission to pursue in the many nations where the spirit and the apostolic desires of Mother Cándida have arrived.

[In English:]

"Remember who your teachers were -- from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." For many years countless young people throughout Australia have been blessed with teachers who were inspired by the courageous and saintly example of zeal, perseverance and prayer of Mother Mary McKillop. She dedicated herself as a young woman to the education of the poor in the difficult and demanding terrain of rural Australia, inspiring other women to join her in the first women’s community of religious sisters of that country. She attended to the needs of each young person entrusted to her, without regard for station or wealth, providing both intellectual and spiritual formation. Despite many challenges, her prayers to Saint Joseph and her unflagging devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to whom she dedicated her new congregation, gave this holy woman the graces needed to remain faithful to God and to the Church. Through her intercession, may her followers today continue to serve God and the Church with faith and humility!

[Again in Italian:]

In the second half of the 19th century in Campania, in southern Italy, the Lord called a young elementary school teacher, Giulia Salzano, and made her an apostle of Christian education, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters Catechists of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mother Giulia understood well the importance of catechesis in the Church, and, uniting pedagogical formation with spiritual fervor, she dedicated herself to it with generosity and intelligence, contributing to the formation of persons of every age and social condition. She repeated to her sisters that she wanted to teach the catechism to the very last hour of her life, demonstrating with her whole being that if “God created us to know him, love him and serve him in this life,” nothing must come before this task. May the example and intercession of St. Giulia Salzano sustain the Church in her perennial task of announcing Christ and form authentic Christian consciences.

St. Battista Camilla Varano, a nun of the Poor Clares in the 15th century, bore witness to the Gospel meaning of life in a radical way, especially through her perseverance in prayer. She entered the monastery of Urbino at 23 and was a protagonist in the vast reform movement of Franciscan women’s spirituality, which had as its aim the complete recovery of the charism of St. Clare of Assisi. She promoted new monastic foundations at Camerino, where she was many times elected abbess, and at Fermo and San Severino.

The life of St. Battista, completely immersed in the depths of the divine, was a constant ascent in the life of perfection, with a heroic love of God and neighbor. It was marked by great sufferings and mystical consolations; she had decided in fact, as she herself wrote, to "enter into the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and to drown in the ocean of his most bitter sufferings."

In a time in which the Church was suffering from a lack of discipline, she set out decisively on the road of penance and prayer, animated by the ardent desire for the renewal of the mystical body of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to the Lord for the gift of holiness, which shines in the Church and today illumines the faces of these brothers and sisters of ours. Jesus also invites each of us to follow him to inherit eternal life. Let us be drawn by the luminous examples, let us be guided by their teachings, so that our existence be a canticle of praise to God.

May the Virgin Mary and the intercession of the six new saints, whom we venerate today with joy, obtain this grace for us. Amen.


On the 6 Newly Recognized Saints
"Living Image of the Love of God"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father had just finished celebrating a Mass in which six saints were canonized.

* * *

At the end of this solemn celebration, I would like to renew my cordial greeting to all pilgrims who have come to honor the new saints.

[In French:]

I warmly greet the French-speaking pilgrims, among them the official delegation from Canada, and all the Canadians here for the canonization of Brother André Bessette. Taking up his message, I encourage you to follow his footsteps and freely welcome out of love the will of God in your lives. May you as well, like him, overflow with charity for your brothers and sisters who suffer affliction. May God bless you all, as well as your families. Enjoy your stay in Rome!

[In English:]

I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those who have come in such great numbers for today’s canonization. May these new saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives. I greet especially the official Delegations from Canada and Australia who have travelled to Rome in honour of Saint André Bessette and Saint Mary MacKillop. May God bless and keep all of you, as well as your families and loved ones at home.

[In German:]

I warmly welcome the German-speaking pilgrims and visitors. Saints are the living image of the love of God. Thus, today we find joy in these new saints, Stanislaw Kazimierczyk Soltys, André Bessette, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla Varano. They are for us models to follow and advocates for our lives as Christians. May the Lord bless you all.

[In Spanish:]

I warmly greet the Spanish-language pilgrims who have participated in this morning's solemn canonization ceremony, especially the lord cardinals and bishops, as well as the official delegation from Spain. I entrust the Daughters of Jesus to the intercession of St. Cándida, their founder. I also ask God that the new saints will be a model for the Christian people, particularly youth, so that there will be an ever greater number who welcome the call of the Lord and completely entrust their lives to proclaim the greatness of his love.

[In Polish:]

I warmly greet all the Poles who have come for the canonization. In a special way I offer my welcome to the representatives of the episcopate and to the president of the Polish Republic. I rejoice together with you over the glory of the sanctity of your fellow countryman Stanis?aw Kaz'mierczyk. Let us learn from him the spirit of prayer, of contemplation and of sacrifice for our neighbor. May he sustain before God the Church in Poland, you who are present here, your loved ones and your homeland. I bless you from my heart.

[Again in Italian:]

I greet all the Italian pilgrims who celebrate St. Battista Camilla Varano and St. Giulia Salzano as well as the official delegation that is present for this happy circumstance. In particular my thought goes out to the spiritual daughters of the new saints and to the faithful who have come from the Marche and the Campania.

Thinking of Italy, I would like to recall that today in Reggio Calabria, the 46th annual Social Week of Italian Catholics, which addressed an “agenda of hope” for the country’s future, is concluding. I address a cordial greeting to the participants in the conference, who are connected to us by a video link at the moment, and I hope that the pursuit of the common good will always constitute the sure guiding principle for the efforts of Catholics involved in social and political matters.

Now let us turn in prayer to Mary Most Holy, who God placed at the center of the great assembly of saints. We entrust to her [and all the other saints] the entire Church, so that, enlightened by her example and sustained by their intercession, the faithful will go forward with an ever new spirit toward the homeland of heaven.


Homily at Mass for Pope John Paul II
"His Was a Suffering Lived to the End for Love and With Love"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today at a Mass in the Vatican to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death. The Pontiff died April 2, 2005.

* * *

Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We are gathered around the altar, near the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice for the eternal repose of the chosen soul of Venerable John Paul II, on the fifth anniversary of his death. We do so a few days early, because this year April 2 is Good Friday. We are, in any case, in Holy Week -- a context that is much more propitious for recollection and prayer, in which the Liturgy makes us relive more intensely the last days of Jesus' earthly life. I wish to express my gratitude to all of you who are taking part in this Mass. I greet cordially the cardinals -- in a special way Archbishop Stanislao Dziwisz -- the bishops, priests, men and women religious, as well as the pilgrims gathered purposely from Poland, and so many young people and numerous faithful who did not want to miss this celebration.

In the first biblical reading that was proclaimed, the prophet Isaiah presents the figure of a "servant of God," who is at the same time his chosen one, in whom he is well pleased. The servant will act with unbreakable firmness, with an energy that does not fail until he has realized the task that was assigned to him. However, he will not have at his disposition those human means that seem indispensable to act on such a grandiose plane. He will present himself with the force of conviction, and it will be the Spirit that God has put in him that will give him the capacity to act with meekness and strength, assuring him of final success.

That which the inspired prophet says of the servant, we can apply to our beloved John Paul II: the Lord called him to his service and, in entrusting to him tasks of ever greater responsibility, also accompanied him with his grace and his continual assistance. During his long Pontificate, he spent himself in proclaiming the law with firmness, without weakness or hesitation, above all when he had to face resistance, hostility and rejection. He knew he was taken by the hand of the Lord, and this enabled him to exercise a very fecund ministry, for which, once again, we give fervid thanks to God.

The Gospel just proclaimed takes us to Bethany, where, as the evangelist notes, Lazarus, Martha and Mary offered a supper to the Master (John 12:1). This banquet in the home of three friends of Jesus is characterized by presentiments of imminent death: the six days before Passover, the suggestion of the traitor Judas, Jesus' reply that recalls one of the pious acts of burial anticipated by Mary, the hint that they will not always have him with them, the intention to eliminate Lazarus, in which is reflected the will to kill Jesus.

In this evangelical account, there is a gesture to which I wish to draw your attention: Mary of Bethany "took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair" (12:3). Mary's gesture is the expression of great faith and love toward the Lord: for her it was not enough to wash the feet of the Master with water, but she spreads them with a great quantity of precious perfume that -- as Judas will argue -- could have been sold for three hundred denari; she does not, thus, anoint the head, as was the custom, but the feet: Mary offers Jesus all that she has that is most precious and with a gesture of profound devotion. Love does not calculate, does not measure, is not concerned about expenses, puts no barriers, but is able to give with joy, seeks only the other's good, overcomes stinginess, miserliness, resentment, the narrow-mindedness that man bears at times in his heart.

Mary places herself at Jesus' feet in a humble attitude of service, as the Master himself will do in the Last Supper, when -- the fourth Gospel tells us -- he "rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples feet" (John 13:4-5), because, he says, "you also should do as I have done to you" (v. 15): the rule of Jesus' community is that of love that is able to serve to the point of giving one's life.

And the perfume spreads: "and the house was filled," notes the evangelist, "with the fragrance of the ointment" (John 12:3). The meaning of Mary's gesture, which is a response to the infinite love of God, is diffused among all the guests; every gesture of charity and of genuine devotion to Christ does not remain a personal event, does not concern only the relationship between the individual and the Lord, but concerns the whole body of the Church, it is contagious: It infuses love, joy, light.

"He came to his own home, and his own people received him not" (John 1:11): Contrasted with Mary's act are the words and attitude of Judas that, under the pretext of the help to be given to the poor, hides egoism and the falsehood of the man shut-in on himself, chained by the greed of possession, who does not let himself be enveloped by the good perfume of divine love. Judas calculates where one cannot calculate, he enters with a mean spirit where the space is one of love, of gift, of total dedication. And Jesus, who up to that moment has been silent, intervenes in favor of Mary's gesture: "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial" (John 12:7).

Jesus understands that Mary intuited the love of God and indicates that now his "hour" is drawing close, the "hour" in which Love will find its supreme expression on the wood of the cross: the Son of God gives himself, so that man can have life, he descends into the abyss of death to take man to the heights of God, he is not afraid to humble himself "and become obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). In the sermon in which he comments on this evangelical passage, St. Augustine addresses to each one of us, with pressing words, the invitation to enter into this circuit of love, imitating Mary's gesture and putting ourselves concretely in the following of Jesus. Augustine writes: "Every soul that wishes to be faithful, unites itself to Mary to anoint with precious perfume the feet of the Lord. [...] Anoint the feet of Jesus: Follow the footprints of the Lord by leading a worthy life. Dry his feet with your hair: If there is something superfluous, give it to the poor, and you will have dried the feet of the Lord" (In Ioh. evang., 50, 6).

Dear brothers and sisters! The whole life of the Venerable John Paul II unfolded in the sign of this charity, of this capacity to give himself in a generous way, without reservations, without measure, without calculation. What moved him was love for Christ, to whom he had consecrated his life, a superabundant and unconditional love. It is precisely because he drew ever closer to God in love, that he was able to make himself a fellow wayfarer with the man of today, spreading in the world the perfume of the love of God. Whoever had the joy of knowing and frequenting him, was able to touch with the hand how alive was in him the certainty "of contemplating the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living," as we heard in the Responsorial Psalm (26/27:13); a certainty that accompanied him in the course of his existence and that, in a particular way, was manifested during the last period of his pilgrimage on this earth: the progressive physical weakness, in fact, never affected his rock-like faith, his luminous hope, his fervent charity. He let himself be consumed by Christ, for the Church, for the whole world: his was a suffering lived to the end for love and with love.

In the homily for the 25th anniversary of his Pontificate, he confided having felt strongly in his heart, at the moment of the election, Jesus' question to Peter: "Do you love me? Do you love me more than these ...? " (John 21:15-16); and he adds: "Every day within my heart the same dialogue takes place between Jesus and Peter. In spirit, I fix my gaze on the benevolent look of the Risen Christ. He, however, aware of my human frailty, encourages me to respond with trust as Peter: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you" (John 21:17). And then he invites me to assume the responsibility that He himself has entrusted to me" (Oct. 16, 2003). They are words charged with faith and love, love of God, who conquers all."

[In Polish, he said:]

Finally I wish to greet the Poles here present. Many of you have gathered around the tomb of the Venerable Servant of God with a special sentiment, as daughters and sons of the same land, raised in the same culture and spiritual tradition. The life and work of John Paul II, great Pole, can be a reason for pride for you.

However, it is necessary for you to remember that this is also a great call to be faithful witnesses of the faith, the hope and the love, that he taught us uninterruptedly. Through the intercession of John Paul II, may the Lord's blessing always sustain you.

[He continued in Italian]

While we continue the Eucharistic celebration, being on the point of living the glorious days of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord, let us entrust ourselves with confidence -- following the example of the Venerable John Paul II -- to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so that she will sustain us in the commitment to be, in every circumstance, tireless apostles of her divine Son and of his merciful Love. Amen!


On the Canonization of 5 Saints

"The Virgin Mary Is the Star That Guides Every Journey of Sanctity"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today after presiding at the canonization of five new saints, and before praying the Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

At the end of this solemn celebration, we are invited to pray the Angelus. Before reciting it, I would like to address a cordial greeting to all of you, who wanted, by your devout participation, to pay homage to the new saints. A special thought goes to the authorities with the official delegations who have come from various countries: I thank you for your presence.

[In French:]

I greet with joy the French-speaking pilgrims who have come for the occasion of the canonizations. Following the example of St. Jeanne Jugan, I invite you to concern yourselves with the poorest and the least, those who have been wounded by life and the marginalized of our society, above all on the occasion of the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, which will be celebrated in a few days. Remembering the holy Father Damian, I ask you to commit yourselves at the same time to support with your prayer and your works those who generously dedicate themselves to the struggle against leprosy and against other forms of leprosy that are due to lack of love because of ignorance and cowardice. May your prayer accompany the work sessions of the 2nd African Synod. May God bless all of you!

[In English:]

I extend cordial greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims here this Sunday, especially those who have come to Rome in such great numbers for today’s canonization. May these new saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives. I also greet the group of survivors of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I pray that the world may never again witness such mass destruction of innocent human life. May God bless all of you, as well as your families and loved ones at home.

[In German:]

I cordially greet the German-speaking pilgrims and especially the recently ordained priests of the German College with their guests. May the Lord give you courage and strength in your ministry! Let us take the new saints as models for our life. Among them there is a saint who is dearly loved in Germany, Father Damian, who lived among the lepers of on the Hawaiian island of Molokai and died of having contracted the disease in the end. Let us invoke the intercession of the holy Bishop Zygmunt Szcze;sny Felin'sk, of the holy religious Francisco Coll y Guitart, Rafael Arnáiz Barón and Marie de la Croix Jugan, that God may give us today as well many religious vocations. May the Lord accompany all of you with his grace.

[In Spanish:]

I greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims with affection, in particular those who participated in this joyous ceremony of canonization, especially the lord cardinals, the archbishops and bishops who have arrived with them from Spain, a land so bountiful with the fruits of sanctity. The Dominican, St. Francisco Coll, with his priestly and missionary dedicaton, and the Trappist, St. Rafael Arnáiz Barón, with his entirely contemplative soul, both fervently devoted to the Virgin Mary, honor to the best religious tradition and the deeply Christian roots of your people. May the example and the intercession of these new saints reinvigorate in everyone, and especially in the Dominican Sisters of the of the Annunciation, in the Order of Preachers and in the Trappist monks, the commitment to follow Christ in a generous and disinterested way, according to their particular vocation, witnessing to his Gospel in modern society. I also greet the groups from Colombia and from the other Latin American countries.

[In Flemish:]

I greet the Flemish-speaking pilgrims, who have come to Rome to join in the thanksgiving of the Church for the canonization of Father Damian. Consecrated to the Heart of Jesus and Mary, this holy priest was led by God to let a total "yes" bloom in his vocation. May the intercession of Our Lady and the Apostle of the Lepers free the world from leprosy, make us open to the love of God and grant us enthusiasm and joy in the service of our brothers and sisters. With my apostolic benediction.

[In Polish:]

I cordially greet the faithful who have come from Poland, with the cardinals, archbishops and bishops. I greet all the Polish who, celebrating the traditional Day of the Pope, can rejoice in the gift of a new saint: Zygmunt Szcze;sny Felin'ski. I entrust the Church in Poland and the whole nation to his protection. May God bless you!

[In Italian:]

Dear brothers and sisters, the Virgin Mary is the star that guides every journey of sanctity. Her "fiat" is the perfect model of adhesion to the divine will and her "magnificat" expresses the Church’s song of exultation. Already on this earth the Church rejoices in God’s mighty deeds and in heaven praises his glory eternally. We turn to the Mother of Christ with filial confidence, asking, through her intercession and that of the newly canonized saints, for peace and salvation.


Papal Homily at Canonization Mass

"Jesus Invites His Disciples to the Total Giving of Their Lives"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2009 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today at the canonization Mass of the following blessed: Bishop Zygmunt Szscze;sny Felin'sk, founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary; Dominican Father Francisco Coll y Guitart, founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Father Jozef Damiaan de Veuster of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar; Father Rafael Arnáiz Barón of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance; Sister Marie de la Croix (Jeanne) Jugan, founder of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Before the Blessing, the Holy Father addressed the faithful and led them in praying the Angelus Domini.

* * *

During the Sacred Rite, after the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father gave the homily.

Dear brothers and sisters!

"What must I do to inherit eternal life?" This is the question that opens the brief dialogue we heard in the Gospel, between a man, identified elsewhere as the rich young man, and Jesus (cf Mk 10:17-30). We do not have very many details about this nameless character: all the same from the little we do have we are able to perceive his sincere desire to attain eternal life by living an honest and virtuous existence on earth. In fact he knows the commandments and has obeyed them since childhood. And yet all of this, while important, is not sufficient -- says Jesus -- there is one thing missing, but it is an essential thing. Seeing then that he is willing, the Divine Master looks at him with love and proposes the qualitative leap, he calls him to the heroism of sanctity, he asks him to abandon everything and follow him: "Sell what you own and give the money to the poor...then come, follow me!" (V. 21).

"Then come, follow me!" This is the Christian vocation that flows from a proposal of love by the Lord, and that can be realized only thanks to our loving reply. Jesus invites his disciples to the total giving of their lives, without calculation or personal gain, with unfailing trust in God. The saints welcome this demanding invitation and set about following the crucified and risen Christ with humble docility. Their perfection, in the logic of a faith that is humanly incomprehensible at times, consists in no longer placing themselves at the center, but choosing to go against the flow and live according to the Gospel. This is what was done by the five saints who today, with great joy, are being put forward for veneration by the universal Church: Zygmunt Szcze;sny Felin'ski, Francisco Coll y Guitart, Jozef Damiaan de Veuster, Rafael Arnáiz Barón, Marie de la Croix (Jeanne) Jugan. In them we can contemplate the realization of the words of the Apostle Peter: "Look, we have left everything and followed you" (V. 28) and the consoling reassurance of Jesus: "There is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times as much...and persecutions too, now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life" (VV. 29-30)

Zygmunt Szcze;sny Felin'ski, Archbishop of Warsaw, founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary, was a great witness of faith and pastoral charity in very difficult times for the nation and for the Church in Poland. He dealt zealously with the spiritual growth of the faithful, and in helping the poor and orphans. At the Ecclesial Academy of St Petersburg he oversaw the well-founded formation of priests. As the Archbishop of Warsaw, he encouraged everyone towards an interior renewal. Prior to the insurrection of January 1863 against the Russian annexation, he warned the people against the futile shedding of blood. However, when the uprising occurred and was put down, he courageously defended the oppressed. Under the rule of the Russian Czar he spent 20 years in exile in Jaroslavl in Siberia, without being able to ever return to his diocese. In every situation he stuck steadfastly to his trust in Divine Providence and prayed the following: "O, God, protect us not from tribulations and from the worries of this world... only multiply the love in our hearts so that with the deepest humility we may maintain infinite trust in Your help and in Your mercy...". Today may his dedication to God and to men, full of trust and of love, become a shining example for all the Church.

Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading that "the word of God is living and effective" (Hb 4:12). In it, the Father who is in heaven, lovingly speaks to all his children of all eras (cf. Dei Verbum, 21), allowing them to know his infinite love and, in this way, encouraging them, consoling them and offering to them His plan for salvation of humanity and of each person. Conscious of this, Saint Francis Coll eagerly dedicated himself to its proclamation, faithfully accomplishing his vocation in the Order of Preachers, in which he worked. His passion was preaching, for the most part in an itinerant manner and following the form of "popular missions", with the goal of proclaiming and enlivening the Word of God for the peoples and cities of Catalonia, thus leading the people to the profound encounter with Him. An encounter that elevates the heart to conversion, to receive with joy the divine grace and to maintain constant dialogue with Our Lord through prayer. For this, his evangelizing activity included great devotion to the sacrament of Reconciliation, an outstanding emphasis on the Eucharist and a constant insistence on prayer. Francis Coll reached the hearts of others because he transmitted what he himself lived with passion, that which burned in his heart: the love of Christ, his devotion to Him. For the seed of the Word of God to encounter fertile ground, Francis founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the goal of providing an integral education to children and youth, so that they could discover the unfathomable wealth that is Christ, this loyal friend who will never abandon us nor tire of being by our side, animating our hope with his Word of life.

Jozef De Veuster, who in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary received the name of Damiaan, when he was twenty-three years old, in 1863, left his home in Flanders to proclaim the Gospel on the other side of the world, the Hawaiian Islands. His missionary activity, which gave him so much joy, reaches its summit in charity. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers who were there, abandoned by all; thus he exposed himself to the disease they suffered from. He felt at home with them. The Servant of the Word thus became a suffering servant, a leper with lepers, during the last four years of his life.

To follow Christ, Father Damiaan did not only leave his native country, but he also risked his health: therefore he received eternal life, as the Word of Jesus that was proclaimed in the Gospel today says (cfr. Mk 10:30).

On the 20th anniversary of the canonization of another Belgian saint, Brother Mutien-Marie, the Church in Belgium has gathered once again to give thanks to God for one of its sons recognized as an authentic servant of God. We recall, faced with this noble figure, that charity makes unity: it gives birth to it and makes it desirable. In following Saint Paul, Saint Damien leads us to choose the good battle (cf. 1 Tim 1:18), not those that lead to division, but those that gather together. He invites us to open our eyes to the lepers that disfigure the humanity of our brothers and today still calls, more than for our generosity, for the charity of our serving presence.

Turning to today’s Gospel, to the youthful figure who presents his desires to Jesus, wanting to be something more than a reliably obedient to the duties imposed by the law, he is in contrast with Brother Rafael, canonized today, who died at the age of twenty seven as an Oblate of the Trappists of Saint Isidore de Duenas. He too was from a well-to-do family, as he said himself, with a "slightly dreamy spirit", whose dreams however, did not vanish in front of the attachment to material possessions and other goals that worldliness insists on at times. He said yes to the proposal to follow Jesus, in an immediate and decisive way, without limits or conditions. Thus he set out on his path, which from the moment in the monastery when he realized that he "did not know how to pray ", led him in just a few years to the summit of spiritual life, where he describes with great simplicity and naturalness in many writings. Brother Rafael, still close to us, continues to offer, through his example and his works, a fascinating journey, especially for young persons who are not satisfied easily, but who aspire to the full truth, the most inexpressible joy, reached for the love of God. "Life is love... This is the only reason to live," said the new Saint. And he insists: "From the love of God come all things." May the Lord receive one of the last prayers by Saint Rafael Arnáiz, while he gave his entire life up to Him, pleading: "Take me and give Yourself to the world." May he be given to reinvigorate the interior life of Christians today. May he be given so that his Brothers in the Trappists and the monastic centers can continue to be a beacon that reveals the intimate yearning for God which He placed in every human heart.

Through her admirable work in the service of the poorest elderly, Saint Marie de la Croix is also like a beacon to guide our societies which must always rediscover the place and unique contribution of this period of life. Born in 1792 in Cancale, Brittany, Jeanne Jugan was concerned with the dignity of her brothers and sister in humanity whom age had made vulnerable, recognizing in them the person of Christ Himself. "Look at the poor with compassion, she would say, and Jesus will look at you with goodness on your last day". This compassionate gaze on the aged, drawn from a profound communion with God, was carried by Jeanne Jugan throughout her joyous and disinterested service, practiced with gentleness and humility of heart, wishing to be herself a poor person among the poor. Jeanne lived the mystery of love by peacefully accepting darkness and divesting herself of all material possessions until her death. Her charism is always relevant, while so many aged persons suffer different types of poverty and solitude, sometimes even abandoned by their families. The spirit of hospitality and fraternal love, founded on limitless trust in Providence, which Jeanne Jugan drew from the Beatitudes, illuminated her whole existence. The evangelical impulse is followed today throughout the world in the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which she founded and which bears witness to her following the mercy of God and the compassionate love of the Heart of Jesus for the littlest ones. May Saint Jeanne Jugan be for the elderly a living source of hope and for the persons so generously placing themselves at their service a powerful stimulus to pursue and develop her work!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to the Lord for the gift of sanctity that today shines in the Church with a singular beauty. While I salute each of you affectionately - Cardinals, Bishops, civil and military authorities, priests, religious, faithful lay people of different nationalities who are taking part in this solemn Eucharistic celebration - I would like to invite all of you to let yourselves be drawn by the shining example of these Saints, to allow yourselves to be guided by their teachings, so that our whole existence can become a hymn of praise to the love of God. May we gain this grace through their heavenly intercession and, above all, the maternal protection of Mary, Queen of the Saints and Mother of humanity. Amen.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Benedict XVI's Visit to Birthplace of St. Joseph Freinademetz
"All Cultures Are Waiting for Christ"

OIES, Italy, AUG. 22, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Aug. 5 upon visiting the birthplace of St. Joseph Freinademetz.

Joseph Freinademetz (1852-1908) joined the Society of the Divine Word in 1878. He lived in China for 29 years and is known for his work in that country. He was canonized in 2003.

As a memento of his visit, Benedict XVI wrote in the guest book at the birthplace: "Through the intercession of St. Joseph, may the Lord grant many spiritual vocations and open China ever more to faith in Jesus Christ."

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am deeply moved by this very warm welcome that I have encountered here, and I can only say thank you with all my heart. And I thank the Lord who has given us this great Saint, St Joseph Freinademetz, who shows us the path to life and also is a sign for the Church's future. He is a very modern Saint: we know that China is becoming increasingly significant in political and economic life and also in the life of ideas. It is important that this great country open itself to the Gospel.

And St Joseph Freinademetz shows us that faith does not mean alienation for any culture, for any people, because all cultures are waiting for Christ and are not destroyed by the Lord: indeed, [in him] they reach their maturity.

St Joseph Freinademetz, as we have heard, not only wanted to live and die as a Chinese, but also wanted to be Chinese in Heaven: thus he identified in spirit with this people, in the certainty that it would open itself to faith in Jesus Christ.

Let us now pray that this great Saint may be an encouragement for all of us to live anew the life of faith in our time, to journey towards Christ because Christ alone can unite peoples, can unite cultures; and let us also pray that Christ will give numerous young people the courage to devote their lives totally to the Lord and to his Gospel.

However, I cannot say anything other than simply "thank you" to the Lord who gave us this Saint, and "thank you" to all of you for your welcome which shows me that the Church is still visibly alive today and that faith is the joy that unites us and guides us on the path of life.

My thanks to you all!

[This was followed by a prayer in Ladin, the Rhaeto-Romance dialect of the Engadine in Switzerland, the Our Father and the Benediction. The Holy Father then said:]

Thank you! May the Lord Bless you all!

[And he concluded:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I would simply like to say thank you for coming. I heard that some of you waited for hours: thank you for your patience and your courage. May the Lord bless you all. And naturally I cordially greet all the German-speaking people present: may God reward you all, may the Lord's Blessing be with you all. May God reward you!


On the Saints
"They Represent for Us a Real Path of Access to Jesus"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 20, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today during the weekly general audience, held at Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Every day the Church offers for our consideration one or more saints and blesseds whom we can invoke and imitate. This week, for example, we remember some who are much loved by popular devotion.

Yesterday, St. John Eudes who, in face of the rigor of the Jansenists -- we are talking about the 17th century -- promoted a tender devotion, whose inextinguishable sources, he indicated, are in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Today we remember Bernard of Clairvaux, whom Pope Pius VIII called "mellifluous doctor" because he was outstanding in "distilling from the biblical texts the meaning hidden in them." Events led this mystic, desirous of living submerged in the "luminous valley" of contemplation, to travel through Europe to serve the Church in the needs of his time and to defend the Christian doctrine. He has also been described as "Marian doctor," not because he wrote very much on the Mother of God, but because he was able to understand her essential role in the Church, presenting her as the perfect model of monastic life and of every form of Christian life.

Tomorrow we will remember St. Pius X, who lived in a tormented historical period. Of him John Paul II said, when he visited his birthplace in 1985: "He fought and suffered for the freedom of the Church and for this freedom he offered his willingness to sacrifice privileges and honors, to face misunderstandings and ridicule, as he valued this freedom as the ultimate guarantee for the integrity and coherence of the faith" (Teachings of John Paul II, VIII, 1, 1985, page 1818).

Next Friday will be dedicated to the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, memorial instituted by the Servant of God Pius XII in 1955, and which the liturgical renewal, desired by Vatican Council II, established as complement to the festivity of the Assumption, given that both privileges form only one mystery.

Finally, on Saturday we will pray to St. Rose of Lima, the first canonized saint of the Latin American continent, of which she is the principal patron. St. Rose often repeated: "If men knew what it is to live in grace, they would not be afraid of any suffering and would suffer gladly any sorrow, because grace is the fruit of patience." She died at 31 in 1617, after a brief life full of privations and sufferings, on the feast of the Apostle St. Bartholomew, to whom she was very devoted, because he had suffered a particularly painful martyrdom.

Dear brothers and sisters, day after day the Church offers us the possibility to walk in company of the saints. Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote that the saints constitute the most important commentary of the Gospel, their actualization in the day-to-day routine and, therefore, they represent for us a real path of access to Jesus. The writer Jean Guitton described them as "the colors of the spectrum in relation with the light," because with their own hues and accents each one of them reflects the light of God's holiness. How important and advantageous, therefore, is the determination to cultivate the knowledge and devotion of the saints, together with the daily meditation of the word of God and filial love for the Virgin!

The period of vacation is certainly a useful time to review the biography and writings of some men or women saints in particular, but each day of the year offers us the opportunity to become familiar with our heavenly patrons. Their human and spiritual experience shows that holiness is not a luxury, it is not the privilege of a few, an impossible goal for a normal man. In reality, it is the common destiny of all men called to be children of God, the universal vocation of all those who are baptized. Holiness is offered to all.

Naturally, not all the saints are the same. They are, in fact, as I have said, the spectrum of divine light. And one who possesses extraordinary charisms is not necessarily a great saint. The name of many of them is known only by God, because on earth they seemed to have lived a very normal life. And it is precisely these "normal" saints that God usually wants. Their example testifies that, only when one is in contact with the Lord, is one full of peace and joy and in this way it is possible to spread everywhere serenity, hope and optimism. Considering precisely the variety of their charisms, Bernanos, great French writer who was always fascinated by the idea of the saints -- he quotes many of them in his novels -- points out that every saint's life is like "a new flowering of spring." May this also happen to us! Let us allow ourselves to be attracted by the supernatural fascination of holiness! May Mary, Queen of all Saints, Mother and refuge of sinners obtain this grace for us!


Papal Message to Funeral of Focolare Founder
"I Give Thanks to God for the Service Chiara Has Offered to the Church"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 18, 2008 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's letter to his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who celebrated today the funeral Mass of the founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich.

* * *

To Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state

I spiritually participate in the solemn liturgy with which the Christian community accompanies Chiara Lubich in her taking leave of this earth to enter the bosom of the heavenly Father. I renew with affection my profound condolences to the leaders of the whole Work of Mary -- Focolare Movement, as well as to those who have collaborated with this generous witness of Christ, who have given themselves without reserve to the spreading of the Gospel message in every ambit of contemporary society, always attentive to the "signs of the times."

There are many reasons to give thanks to the Lord for the gift he has given to the Church in this woman of intrepid faith, a meek messenger of hope and peace, founder of a great spiritual family that extends across multiple fields of evangelization.

Above all I would like to give thanks to God for the service Chiara has offered to the Church: a silent and incisive service, always in harmony with the magisterium of the Church. "The Popes," she said, "have always understood us." That is because Chiara and the Work of Mary have always tried to respond with docile fidelity to each one of their invitations and desires.

The uninterrupted list of each of my venerable predecessors, from the Servant of God Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII to the Servants of God Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, is a concrete testimony. The thought of the Pope was for her a sure directional guide. Moreover, seeing the initiatives that she has started, one could even affirm that she had an almost prophetic capacity to intuit [that thought] and act on it in an anticipatory way.

Her heritage passes now to her spiritual family: May the Virgin Mary, constant model as a reference point for Chiara, help each member of Focolare to follow the same path, contributing to make the Church be ever more a house and school of communion, as dear John Paul II wrote after the Jubilee Year 2000.

May the God of hope receive the soul of our dear sister, [and] console and support the commitment of those who take on her spiritual testament. For this intention, I assure a particular memory in prayer, as I send to all those present in the sacred rite the apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, 18 of March of 2008

Benedictus PP XVI


Pope's Letter on Florentine Saint
"A Symbolic Figure of a Living Love"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 12, 2007 ( Here is the letter Benedict XVI sent in to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, archbishop of Florence, on the fourth centenary of the death of St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi.

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To His Eminence
Cardinal Ennio Antonelli
Archbishop of Florence

On the occasion of the Fourth Centenary of the death of St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, I am pleased to unite myself to the beloved Florentine Church who wishes to remember her illustrious daughter, particularly dear as a symbolic figure of a living love that recalls the essential mystical dimension of every Christian life.

While with affection I greet you, Your Eminence, and the entire diocesan community, I give thanks to God for the gift of this Saint, which every generation rediscovers as uniquely close by knowing how to communicate an ardent love for Christ and the Church.

Born in Florence on 2 April 1566 and baptized at the "beautiful St John" font with the name Caterina, St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi showed a particular sensitivity to the supernatural from childhood and was attracted by intimate colloquy with God.

As was the custom for children of noble families, her education was entrusted to the Dames of Malta, in whose monastery she received her First Holy Communion on 25 March 1576, and just some days later she consigned herself to the Lord for ever with a promise of virginity.

Returning to her family, she deepened her prayer life with the help of the Jesuit Fathers, who used to come to the palace. She cleverly did not allow herself to be conditioned by the worldly demands of an environment that, although Christian, was not sufficient to satisfy her desire to become more similar to her crucified Spouse.

In this context she reached the decision to leave the world and enter the Carmel of St Mary of the Angels at Borgo San Frediano, where on 30 January 1583 she received the Carmelite habit and the name of Sr Mary Magdalene.

In March of 1584, she fell gravely ill and asked to be able to make her profession prior to the time, and on 27 May, Feast of the Trinity, she was carried into the choir on her pallet, where she pronounced before the Lord her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience for ever.

From this moment an intense mystical season began which was also the source of the Saint's great ecstatic fame. The Carmelites of St Mary of the Angels have five manuscripts in which are recorded the extraordinary experiences of their young Sister.

"The Forty Days" of the summer of 1584 are followed by "The Colloquies" of the first half of the following year. The apex of the mystical knowledge that God granted of himself to Sr Mary Magdalene is found in "Revelations and Intelligences", eight days of splendid ecstacies from the vigil of Pentecost to the Feastday of the Trinity in 1585. This was an intense experience that made her able at only 19 years of age to span the whole mystery of salvation, from the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Five long years of interior purification followed - Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi speaks of it in the book of "The Probation" - in which her Spouse, the Word, takes away the sentiment of grace and leaves her like Daniel in the lions' den, amid many trials and great temptations.

This is the context in which her ardent commitment to renew the Church takes place, after which, in the summer of 1586, splendours of light from on high came to show her the true state of the post-Tridentine era.

Like Catherine of Siena, she felt "forced" to write some letters of entreaty to the Pope, Curial Cardinals, her Archbishop and other ecclesial personages, for a decisive commitment to "The Renovation of the Church", as the title of the manuscript that contains them says. It consists of 12 letters dictated in ecstasy, perhaps never sent, but which remain as a testimony of her passion for the Sponsa Verbi.

With Pentecost of 1590 her difficult trial ended. She promised to dedicate herself with all her energy to the service of the community and in particular to the formation of novices. Sr Mary Magdalene had the gift to live communion with God in an ever more interior form, so as to become a reference point for the whole community who still today continue to consider her "mother".

The purified love that pulsated in her heart opened her to desire full conformity with Christ, her Spouse, even to sharing with him the "naked suffering" of the Cross. Her last three years of life were a true Calvary of suffering for her. Consumption began to clearly manifest itself: Sr Mary Magdalene was obliged to withdraw little by little from community life to immerse herself ever more in "naked suffering for love of God".

She was oppressed by atrocious physical and spiritual pain which lasted until her death on Friday, 25 May 1607. She passed away at 3 p.m., while an unusual joy pervaded the entire monastery.

Within 20 years of her death the Florentine Pontiff Urban VIII had already proclaimed her Blessed. Pope Clement IX inscribed her in the Roll of Saints on 28 April 1669.

Her body has remained incorrupt and is the destination of constant pilgrimages. The monastery where the Saint lived is today the seat of the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Florence, which venerates her as their Patron, and the cell where she died has become a chapel in whose silence one can still feel her presence.

St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi continues to be an inspiring spiritual figure for the Carmelites Nuns of the Ancient Observance. They see in her the "Sister" who has travelled the entire way of transforming union with God and who finds in Mary the "star" of the way to perfection.

This great Saint has for everyone the gift of being a spiritual teacher, particularly for priests, to whom she always nourished a true passion.

I truly hope that the present jubilee celebrations commemorating her death will contribute to making this luminous figure ever better known, who manifests to all the dignity and beauty of the Christian vocation. As, while she was alive, grasping the bells she urged her Sisters with the cry: "Come and love Love!", may the great Mystic, from Florence, from her Seminary, from the Carmelite monasteries that draw their inspiration from her, still make her voice heard in all the Church, spreading to every human creature the proclamation to love God.

With this wish, I entrust you, Venerable Brother, and the Florentine Church to the heavenly protection of St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi and heartily impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 29 April 2007


Papal Homily at Canonization Mass
"Wisdom Likes to Dwell in the Midst of Human Beings" (June 3, 2007)



St Peter's Square
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Sunday, 3 June 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. After the Easter Season, after reliving the event of Pentecost which renews the Baptism of the Church in the Holy Spirit, we turn our gaze, so to speak, towards "the open Heavens", to enter with the eyes of faith into the depths of the mystery of God, one in substance and three in Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

While we allow this supreme mystery to envelop us, let us admire God's glory which is reflected in the lives of the saints. Let us contemplate it above all in those whom I have just presented for the veneration of the universal Church: George Preca, Simon of Lipnica, Charles of St Andrew Houben and Marie Eugenie of Jesus Milleret.

I address my cordial greeting to all the pilgrims gathered here to pay homage to these exemplary Gospel witnesses.

In particular, I greet the Cardinals, the Presidents of the Philippines, of Ireland, of Malta and of Poland, my venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, the Government Delegations and other Civil Authorities who are taking part in this celebration.

In the First Reading from the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom comes on the scene and stands beside God as his assistant, his "architect" (cf. 8:30). The "panoramic view" of the cosmos, seen through the eyes of Wisdom, is stupendous.

Wisdom herself admits: "[I was] playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men" (8:31).

Wisdom likes to dwell in the midst of human beings, because in them she recognizes the image and likeness of the Creator. This preferential relationship of Wisdom with human beings calls to mind a famous passage from another of the wisdom books, the Book of Wisdom: We read: Wisdom "is a breath of the power of God. ... Though she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets" (Wis 7:25-27).

The last evocative expression is an invitation to consider the multiform and inexhaustible manifestation of holiness in the People of God down the centuries. God's Wisdom is manifest in the cosmos in the variety and beauty of its elements, but his masterpieces, where his beauty and his greatness truly appear much more, are the saints.

In the passage of the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans we find a similar image: that of God's love "poured out into [the] hearts" of saints, that is, of the baptized, "through the Holy Spirit" who has been given to them (cf. Rom 5:5).

The gift of the Spirit, "Person-Love" and "Person-Gift", as the Servant of God John Paul II described him, passes through Christ (cf. Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 10). The Spirit of God reaches us through Christ as the beginning of new and "holy" life. The Spirit instils God's love in believers' hearts in the concrete form it had in the man Jesus of Nazareth.

Thus, what St Paul said in his Letter to the Colossians came to pass: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (1:27). "Affliction" is not in contrast to this hope; rather, it helps bring it about through "endurance" and "proven character" (cf. Rom 5:3-4): it is the way of Jesus, the way of the Cross.

In the same perspective, from the Wisdom of God incarnate in Christ and communicated by the Holy Spirit, the Gospel has suggested to us that God the Father continues to manifest his plan of love through the saints.

What we have already observed about Wisdom occurs here too: the Spirit of truth reveals God's design in the multiplicity of cosmic elements -- we are grateful for this visibility of God's beauty and goodness in the elements of the cosmos --, and he does so above all through human people and especially through the saints where his light, his truth, his love appear with great power.

Indeed, "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15) is, properly speaking, Jesus Christ alone, "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14).

He is Wisdom incarnate, the Creator Logos, who finds his joy in dwelling among the sons of man and pitches his tent in their midst (cf. Jn 1:14).

God was pleased to place in him "all fullness" (cf. Col 1:19); that is, as he himself says in today's Gospel passage, "all that the Father has is mine" (Jn 16:15). Every individual saint shares in the riches of Christ taken by the Father and communicated in due time.

Jesus' holiness is always the same; it is always he, the "Holy One", whom the Spirit models in "holy souls", thereby forming friends of Jesus and witnesses of his holiness. And Jesus also wants to make us his friends.

Let us open our hearts precisely on this day so that friendship with Jesus also grows in our lives, thus enabling us to witness to his holiness, goodness and truth.

George Preca, born in La Valletta on the Island of Malta, was a friend of Jesus and a witness to the holiness that derives from him. He was a priest totally dedicated to evangelization: by his preaching, his writings, his spiritual direction and the administration of the sacraments and, first and foremost, by the example of his life.

The Johannine expression, "Verbum caro factum est" always directed his soul and his work and thus the Lord could make use of him to give life to a praiseworthy institution, the "Society of Christian Doctrine", whose purpose is to guarantee parishes the qualified service of properly trained and generous catechists.

As a profoundly priestly and mystical soul, he poured himself out in effusions of love for God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the saints. He liked to repeat: "Lord God, how obliged to you I am! Thank you, Lord God, and forgive me, Lord God!". This is a prayer that we can also repeat and make our own.

May St George Preca help the Church, in Malta and throughout the world, to be always a faithful echo of the voice of Christ, the Incarnate Word.

The new Saint, Simon of Lipnica, a great son of Poland, a witness of Christ and a follower of the spirituality of St Francis of Assisi, lived in a distant age but precisely today is held up to the Church as a timely model of a Christian who -- enlivened by the spirit of the Gospel -- was ready to dedicate his life to his brethren.

Thus, filled with the mercy he drew from the Eucharist, he did not hesitate to help the sick who were struck by the plague, and he himself contracted this disease which led to his death.

Today in particular, let us entrust to his protection those who are suffering from poverty, illness, loneliness and social injustice. Let us ask through his intercession for the grace of persevering and active love, for Christ and for our brothers and sisters.

"The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us". Truly, in the case of the Passionist priest, Charles of Saint Andrew Houben, we see how that love overflowed in a life totally dedicated to the care of souls.

During his many years of priestly ministry in England and Ireland, the people flocked to him to seek out his wise counsel, his compassionate care and his healing touch.

In the sick and the suffering he recognized the face of the Crucified Christ, to whom he had a lifelong devotion. He drank deeply from the rivers of living water that poured forth from the side of the Pierced One, and in the power of the Spirit he bore witness before the world to the Father's love.

At the funeral of this much-loved priest, affectionately known as Fr Charles of Mount Argus, his superior was moved to observe: "The people have already declared him a saint".

Marie Eugenie Milleret reminds us first of all of the importance of the Eucharist in the Christian life and in spiritual growth. In fact, as she herself emphasizes, her First Holy Communion was an important moment, even if she was unaware of it at the time.

Christ, present in the depths of her heart, was working within her, giving her time to follow her own pace and to pursue her inner quest, which was to lead her to the point of giving herself totally to the Lord in the Religious life in response to the needs of her time.

In particular, she realized how important it was to pass on to the young generations, especially young girls, an intellectual, moral and spiritual training that would make them adults capable of taking charge of their family life and of making their contribution to the Church and society. Throughout her life she drew the strength for her mission from her life of prayer, ceaselessly combining contemplation and action.

May the example of St Marie Eugenie invite men and women today to pass on to young people values that will help them to become strong adults and joyful witnesses of the Risen One. May young people never be afraid to welcome these moral and spiritual values, living them patiently and faithfully. In this way, they will build their personality and prepare for their future.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God for the wonders he has worked in the saints, in whom his glory shines. Let us be attracted by their example and allow ourselves to be guided by their teaching, so that the whole of our life may become, like theirs, a hymn of praise to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

May Mary, Queen of the Saints, and the intercession of these four new "older Brothers and Sister" whom we joyfully venerate today, obtain this for us. Amen.


Pope's Address Upon Proclaiming 4 Saints
"Friends of Jesus and Witnesses of His Holiness"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the homily delivered today by Benedict XVI during the canonization Mass of Father George Preca, Father Szymon of Lipnica, Father Charles of St. Andrew and Mother Marie-Eugénie of Jesus.

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Dear brothers and sisters,
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

After Eastertide, after having relived the event of Pentecost, which renews the Church's baptism in the Holy Spirit, we turn our gaze, so to speak, to the "opened heavens" to enter with the eyes of faith into the depths of the mystery of God, one in substance and three in persons: Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

As we allow ourselves to be caught up in this great mystery, we admire the glory of God which is reflected in the life of the saints; we contemplate it above all in those whom I have a short while ago proposed for the veneration of the universal Church: George Preca, Szymon of Lipnica, Father Charles of St. Andrew and Mother Marie Eugénie of Jesus.
To all the pilgrims who have come to pay homage to these exemplary witnesses of the Gospel, I extend my cordial greetings.
I greet, in particular, the cardinals, the presidents of the Philippines, of Ireland, of Malta and of Poland, my venerable brothers in the episcopate, the government delegations, and the other civil authorities who are taking part in this celebration.
In the first reading, taken from the Book of Proverbs, wisdom comes on the scene, standing at God's side as assistant, as "architect" (Proverbs 8:30).

The panorama of the cosmos seen with wisdom's eyes is stupendous. Wisdom confesses: "I played upon the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race" (8:30). Wisdom loves to dwell among men because in them she recognizes the image and likeness of the Creator.

This preferential relationship of wisdom with men makes us think of a celebrated passage in another sapiential book, the Book of Wisdom: "Wisdom," we read there, "is an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing that is sullied enters into her. For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness. And she, who is one, can do all things, and renews everything while herself perduring; and passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets" (Wisdom 7:25-27).

This last suggestive expression invites us to consider the manifold and inexhaustible manifestation of sanctity in the people of God through the centuries. God's wisdom is manifest in the cosmos, in variety and beauty in its elements, but its masterpieces are the saints.
In the passage from the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Romans we find a similar image: that of God's love "poured out into the hearts" of the saints, that is the baptized, "through the Holy Spirit" who has been given to them (cf. Romans 5:5). It is through Christ that the gift of the Spirit passes, "Person-Love, Person-Gift," as the Servant of God John Paul II defined him ("Dominum Vivificantem," No. 10).

Through Christ, the Spirit of God comes to us as principle of new, "holy," life. The Spirit puts the love of God in the heart of believers in the concrete form it had in the man Jesus of Nazareth. In this way what St. Paul says about "Christ in you, hope of glory" (Corinthians 1:27) is realized. The "tribulations" are not in contrast to this hope, indeed, they help to realize it through "patience" and "proven virtue" (Romans 5:3-4): It is the way of Jesus, the way of the cross.
In the same perspective, of God's wisdom incarnate in Christ and communicated by the Holy Spirit, the Gospel suggested to us that God the Father continues to manifest his plan of love through the saints. Even here there occurs what we have already noted about wisdom: The Spirit of truth reveals God's plan in the multiplicity of the elements of the cosmos and he does it above all through human persons, in a special way through saints.

In effect, "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15) is properly only Jesus Christ, "the holy and just one" (Acts 3:14). He is wisdom incarnate, creator Logos who finds his joy in dwelling among men, in whose midst he has pitched his tent (cf. John 16:15). It pleased God to pour "every fullness" (cf. Colossians 1:19); or as he himself says in today's Gospel passage: "All that the Father has is mine" (John 16:15).

Each individual saint participates in the riches of Christ taken from the Father and communicated at the right time. It is always Jesus' own holiness, it is always him, the "holy one," whom the Spirit forms in "holy souls," making them into friends of Jesus and witnesses of his holiness.
George Preca was a friend of Jesus and a witness of the holiness that comes from him. George was born in La Valletta on the island of Malta. He was a priest wholly dedicated to evangelization: through preaching, through writing, through spiritual direction and the administering of the sacraments, and above all by the example of his life.

The phrase from John's Gospel "Verbum caro factum est" always gave direction to his soul and to his deeds, and thus the Lord was able to use him to give life to a meritorious work, "The Society of Christian Doctrine," which aimed at providing parishes with the service of qualified, well-formed and generous catechists.

A profoundly priestly and mystical soul, he overflowed with love for God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. He loved to repeat: "Lord God, how much I owe you! Thank you, Lord God, and forgive me, Lord God!"

Saint George Preca, help the Church to always be, in Malta and in the world, the faithful echo of Christ, the incarnate Word.

[In Polish the Pope said:]

The new saint, Szymon of Lipnica, great son of land of Poland, witness to Christ and follower of the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi, lived long ago, but is proposed to the Church today as a relevant model of a Christian who -- animated by the spirit of the Gospel -- is ready to give his life for his brothers and sisters.

Thus, filled with mercy that he drew from the Eucharist, did not hesitate to bring aid to those struck by the plague, contracting the sickness that also brought about his own death. Today in a special way we entrust to his protection those who suffer from poverty, sickness, loneliness and social injustice. Through his intercession we ask for ourselves the grace of persevering and active love for Christ and our brother and sisters.

[In English the Holy Father said:]

"The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us." Truly, in the case of the Passionist priest, Father Charles Houben of St. Andrew, we see how that love overflowed in a life totally dedicated to the care of souls. During his many years of priestly ministry in England and Ireland, the people flocked to him to seek out his wise counsel, his compassionate care and his healing touch.

In the sick and the suffering he recognized the face of the crucified Christ, to whom he had a lifelong devotion. He drank deeply from the rivers of living water that poured forth from the side of the Pierced One, and in the power of the Spirit he bore witness before the world to the Father's love. At the funeral of this much-loved priest, affectionately known as Father Charles of Mount Argus, his superior was moved to observe: "The people have already declared him a saint."
[In French he said:]

Marie-Eugénie of Jesus calls us above all to the importance of the Eucharist in Christian life and in spiritual growth. In fact, as she herself underlined, her first Communion had been the defining moment of her life, although she didn't realize it completely then. Christ, present in the depths of her heart, was working in her, he allowed time to pass according to its own rhythm, so that she could carry out her interior quest that led her to give herself completely to the Lord in religious life, in response to the needs of her times.

She perceived in particular the importance of transmitting to the young generations, and in particular to young girls, an intellectual, moral and spiritual education that would make them into adults capable of taking charge of a family, knowing that in this way they were offering their contribution to the Church and society.

Her entire life she found the strength to carry out her mission in a life of prayer, always associating contemplation with action. May the example of St. Marie-Eugénie invite the men and women of today to transmit the values that will help the youth to become strong adults and joyous witnesses of the Resurrection.

May young people not be afraid to accept these moral and spiritual values, and to live them with patience and fidelity. In this way they will construct their personalities and prepare themselves for their future.

[In Italian the Pope said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to God for the marvels that he has accomplished in the saints in whom his glory shines forth. Let us be drawn by their examples, guided by their teachings, so that our entire existence becomes, like theirs, a song of praise to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

May Mary, the Queen of Saints, and the intercession of these four new "older brothers and sister," whom we venerate with joy today, obtain this grace for us. Amen.


Pope's Letter to the Camaldolese Order
On the Life of St. Peter Damian (Feb 20, 2007)

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To Rev. Fr Guido Innocenzo Gargano, Superior of the Monastery of San Gregorio al Celio

Today's Feast of St Peter Damian offers me the pleasant opportunity to address a cordial greeting to all the members of the worthy Camaldolese Order, as well as to those who admire and are inspired by the figure and work of this great Gospel witness. He was one of the protagonists of Medieval Church history and undoubtedly the most prolific writer of the 11th century.

The 1,000th anniversary of his birth is an especially appropriate occasion to examine closely the aspects characterizing his multifacetted personality as scholar, hermit and man of the Church, but especially as a person in love with Christ.

In his life, St Peter Damian was proof of a successful synthesis of hermitic and pastoral activity. As a hermit, he embodied that Gospel radicalism and unreserved love for Christ, so well expressed in the Rule of St Benedict: "Prefer nothing, absolutely nothing, to the love of Christ".

As a man of the Church, he worked with farsighted wisdom and when necessary also made hard and courageous decisions. The whole of his human and spiritual life was played out in the tension between his life as a hermit and his ecclesiastical duty.

St Peter Damian was above all a hermit, indeed, the last theoretician of the hermitic life in the Latin Church exactly at the time of the East-West schism. In his interesting work entitled The Life of Blessed Romuald, he left us one of the most significant fruits of the monastic experience of the undivided Church. For him, the hermitic life was a strong call to rally all Christians to the primacy of Christ and his lordship.

It is an invitation to discover Christ's love for the Church, starting from his relationship with the Father; a love that the hermit must in turn nourish with, for and in Christ, in regard to the entire People of God. St Peter Damian felt the presence of the universal Church in the hermitic life so strongly that he wrote in his ecclesiological treatise entitled Dominus Vobiscum that the Church is at the same time one in all and all in each one of her members.

This great holy hermit was also an eminent man of the Church who made himself available to move from the hermitage to go wherever his presence might be required in order to mediate between contending parties, were they Churchmen, monks or simple faithful.

Although he was radically focused on the unum necessarium, he did not shirk the practical demands that love for the Church imposed upon him. He was impelled by his desire that the Ecclesial Community always show itself as a holy and immaculate Bride ready for her heavenly Bridegroom, and expressed with a lively ars oratoria his sincere and disinterested zeal for the Church's holiness.

Yet, after each ecclesial mission he would return to the peace of the hermitage at Fonte Avellana and, free from all ambition, he even reached the point of definitively renouncing the dignity of Cardinal so as not to distance himself from his hermitic solitude, the cell of his hidden existence in Christ.

Lastly, St Peter Damien was the soul of the "Riforma gregoriana", which marked the passage from the first to the second millennium and whose heart and driving force was St Gregory VII. It was, in fact, a matter of the application of institutional decisions of a theological,disciplinary and spiritual character which permitted a greater libertas Ecclesiae in the second millennium. They restored the breath of great theology with reference to the Fathers of the Church and in particular, to St Augustine, St Jerome and St Gregory the Great. With his pen and his words he addressed all: he asked his brother hermits for the courage of a radical self-giving to the Lord which would as closely as possible resemble martyrdom; he demanded of the Pope, Bishops and ecclesiastics a high level of evangelical detachment from honours and privileges in carrying out their ecclesial functions; he reminded priests of the highest ideal of their mission that they were to exercise by cultivating purity of morals and true personal poverty.

In an age marked by forms of particularism and uncertainties because it was bereft of a unifying principle, Peter Damien, aware of his own limitations -- he liked to define himself as peccator monachus -- passed on to his contemporaries the knowledge that only through a constant harmonious tension between the two fundamental poles of life -- solitude and communion -- can an effective Christian witness develop. Does not this teaching also apply to our times? I gladly express the hope that the celebration of the Millennium of his birth may not only contribute to rediscovering the timeliness and depth of his thought and action, but may also be an appropriate opportunity for a personal and communitarian spiritual renewal, starting constantly from Jesus Christ, "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Heb 13:8).

I assure a remembrance in prayer for you and for all the Camaldolese Monk Hermits to whom I send a special Apostolic Blessing, gladly extending it to all those who share their spirituality.

From the Vatican, 20 February 2007



Pope Recalls Padre Pio and His Works
"Faith in God and Scientific Research Cooperate"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 2, 2006 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 14 to a group of pilgrims connected with the charitable works of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

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Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With great joy I meet you in this Square, which in 1999 and in 2002 saw the memorable celebrations for the Beatification and Canonization of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

Today, you have come in large numbers on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of what constitutes an important and integral part of your work: the House for the Relief of Suffering.

I welcome you with affection and extend to each one of you my cordial greeting: to Archbishop Umberto D'Ambrosio, who I thank for his kind words; to the Capuchin Friars of the Shrine and of the Province; to the managers, doctors, nursing staff and personnel of the Hospital; to members of the Prayer Groups, coming from every part of Italy and also from other countries; to the pilgrims from the Diocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo.

All together you form a great spiritual family, because you recognize yourselves as sons and daughters of Padre Pio, a simple man, a "poor Friar", as he used to say, to whom God has entrusted the perennial message of his Crucified Love for the whole of humanity.

You are the first inheritors of his witness, dear Capuchin Friars, who are the custodians of the Shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the large new church dedicated to St Pio of Pietrelcina. You are the principal animators of these places of grace, visited each year by millions of pilgrims.

Spurred on and sustained by the example of Padre Pio and by his intercession, do your best to emulate him in order to help all to live a profound spiritual experience, centered on contemplation of the Crucified Christ, revealer and mediator of the merciful love of the Heavenly Father.

Padre Pio's heart, on fire with charity, gave rise to the House for the Relief of Suffering, whose name already shows the inspiration that characterizes it and the program it intends to accomplish.

Padre Pio wanted to call it a "house" because the sick, especially those who are poor, would feel at ease in it, welcomed in a family atmosphere, and in this house one could find "relief" from his suffering. Relief thanks to two converging factors: prayer and science. This was the idea of the Founder, which must always be kept in focus and personalized by all those who work in the hospital.

Faith in God and scientific research cooperate to the same goal, which can be expressed better with the words of Jesus himself: "that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10).

Yes, God is life, and wants man to be healed from every ailment of body and spirit. This is why Jesus takes untiring care of the sick, forecasting with their healing the Kingdom of God already near.

For the same reason the Church, thanks to the charisms of many saints, has extended and diffused throughout the centuries this prophetic ministry of Christ by means of the countless initiatives in the fields of health and service to the suffering.

If the scientific and technological dimension is proper to the hospital, prayer pervades the entire work of Padre Pio. It is, so to speak, the transversal element: it animates every initiative. It is the spiritual strength that moves all and orients all according to charity, which is ultimately God himself.

God is love. Therefore, the fundamental binomial that I want to repropose to your attention is what is at the centre of my Encyclical: love of God and love of neighbor, prayer and charity (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," nn. 16-18).

Padre Pio has been above all a "man of God". From childhood he felt called by him and responded "with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his strength" (cf. Dt 6:5). Thus, divine love was able to take possession of his humble person and make of him an elect instrument of his salvific design.

Praise be to God, who in every age chooses simple and generous souls to accomplish great things (cf. Lk 1:48-49)!

In the Church all comes from God, and without him nothing can stand. The works of Padre Pio offer an extraordinary example of this truth: the House for the Relief of Suffering can be well defined as a "miracle". Who could have humanly thought that next to that little convent of San Giovanni Rotondo there would arise one of the largest and most modern hospitals of Southern Italy?

Who, if not the man of God, who looked at reality with the eyes of faith and with great hope, because he knew that nothing is impossible to God?

This is why the celebration of the House for the Relief of Suffering is at the same time the celebration of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups, that organization whose work it is to "knock" continually at the Heart of God, like an army of intercessors, in order to make amends, to obtain the graces necessary for the Church and the world.

Dear friends of the Prayer Groups, your origin goes back to the winter of 1942, while the Second World War shook Italy, Europe and the world.

On 17 February of that year, my venerable Predecessor, Pope Pius XII, launched an appeal to the Christian people so that many would gather to pray together for peace.

Padre Pio urged his spiritual sons to readily respond to the call of the Vicar of Christ. Thus, the Prayer Groups were born, and they had the very same House for the Relief of Suffering as their organizing centre, then still under construction.

This is an image that remains an eloquent symbol: the work of Padre Pio as a large "construction site" animated by prayer and destined to charitable works.

The Prayer Groups have spread to parishes, convents and hospitals, and today the more than 3,000 groups are present on every continent. You, here today, are a representative crowd!

That original response given to the appeal of the Pope has marked for ever the character of your "spiritual" network: your prayer, as the Statutes state, is "with the Church, through the Church and in the Church" (Preface), to live always in full adhesion to the Magisterium, in ready obedience to the Pope and to the Bishops, under the guidance of the presbyter appointed by the Bishop.

The Statutes also prescribe an essential commitment of the Prayer Groups: "undertaking works of charity, especially to bring relief to the suffering and the needy, as a practical demonstration of the love of God" (ibid.).

Here again is the binomial: prayer and charity, God and neighbor. The Gospel does not allow short cuts. Whoever addresses the God of Jesus Christ is spurred to serve the brethren; and vice versa, whoever dedicates himself or herself to the poor, discovers there the mysterious Face of God.

Dear friends, the time has passed, and it is already the moment to conclude. I want to leave you my sincere "thank you" for the support that you give me with your prayer. May the Lord reward you!

At the same time, for the community working in the House for the Relief of Suffering, I ask the special grace to be ever faithful to the spirit and the works of Padre Pio.

I entrust this prayer to the heavenly intercession of Padre Pio and the Virgin Mary. With these sentiments I warmly impart to you and those dear to you the Apostolic Blessing.


Pope's Homily at Canonization Mass (October 29, 2006)
"Their Only Treasure Is in Heaven: It Is God"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2006 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered Oct. 15 during the Eucharistic concelebration for four newly canonized saints: Rafael Guízar Valencia, Filippo Smaldone, Rosa Venerini and Théodore Guérin.

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ROSA VENERINI (1656-1728)


St Peter's Square
Sunday, 15 October 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Four new Saints are proposed today for the veneration of the universal Church: Rafael Guízar y Valencia, Filippo Smaldone, Rose Venerini and Théodore Guérin. Their names will be remembered for ever.

In contrast to this immediately comes the thought of the "rich young man" of whom the Gospel, just proclaimed, speaks. This youth has remained anonymous; if he had responded positively to the invitation of Jesus, he would have become his disciple and probably the Evangelist would have recorded his name.

From this fact one can immediately glimpse the theme of this Sunday's Liturgy of the Word: if man puts his trust in the riches of this world, he will not reach the full sense of life and of true joy.

If instead, trusting the Word of God, he renounces himself and his goods for the Kingdom of Heaven, apparently losing much, he in reality gains all.

The Saint is exactly that man, that woman, who, responding with joy and generosity to Christ's call, leaves everything to follow him. Like Peter and the other Apostles, as St Teresa of Jesus today reminds us as well as countless other friends of God, the new Saints have also run this demanding yet fulfilling Gospel itinerary and have already received "a hundred fold" in this life, together with trials and persecutions, and then eternal life.

Jesus, therefore, can truly guarantee a happy existence and eternal life, but by a route different from what the rich young man imagines: that is, not through a good work, a legal tribute, but rather in the choice of the Kingdom of God as the "precious pearl" for which it is worth selling all that one possesses (cf. Mt 13:45-46).

The rich youth is not able to take this step. Notwithstanding that he has been the object of the loving gaze of Jesus (cf. Mk 10:21), his heart is not able to detach itself from the many goods that he possessed.

Thus comes the teaching for the disciples: "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God!" (Mk 10:23).

Earthly riches occupy and preoccupy the mind and the heart. Jesus does not say they are bad, but that they distance one from God if they are not, so to speak, "invested" for the Kingdom of Heaven, spent, that is, to come to the help of those who are poor.

Understanding this is the fruit of that wisdom of which the First Reading speaks. As we were told, she is more precious than silver or gold, and more beautiful, healthy and full of light, "because her radiance never ceases" (Wis 7:10).

Obviously, this wisdom cannot be reduced merely to an intellectual dimension. It is much more; it is "the Wisdom of the heart", as it is called in Psalm 89. It is a gift from on high (cf. Jas 3:17), from God, and is obtained by prayer (cf. Wis 7:7).

In fact, it has not remained distant from man; it has come close to his heart (cf. Dt 30:14), taking form in the law of the First Covenant between God and Israel through Moses.

The Wisdom of God is contained in the Decalogue. This is why Jesus affirms in the Gospel that to "enter into life" it is necessary to observe the commandments (cf. Mk 10:19). It is necessary, but not sufficient!

In fact, as St Paul says, salvation does not come from the law, but from Grace. And St John recalls that the law was given by Moses, while Grace and Truth come by means of Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 1:17).

To reach salvation one must therefore be open in faith to the grace of Christ, who, however, when addressed, places a demanding condition: "Come, follow me" (Mk 10:21).

The Saints have had the humility and the courage to respond "yes", and they have renounced all to be his friends.

The four new Saints who we particularly venerate today have done likewise. In them we find the experience of Peter actualized: "Lo, we have left everything and followed you" (Mk 10:28). Their only treasure is in heaven: it is God.

The Gospel that we have heard helps us to understand the figure of St Rafael Guízar y Valencia, Bishop of Vera Cruz in the beloved Mexican Nation, as an example of one who has left all to "follow Jesus".

This Saint was faithful to the divine Word, "living and active", that penetrates the depth of the spirit (cf. Heb 4:12). Imitating the poor Christ, he renounced his goods and never accepted the gifts of the powerful, or rather, he gave them back immediately. This is why he received "a hundred fold" and could thus help the poor, even amid endless "persecutions" (cf. Mk 10:30).

His charity, lived to a heroic degree, earned him the name, "Bishop of the poor". In his priestly and later episcopal ministry, he was an untiring preacher of popular missions, the most appropriate way at the time to evangelize people, using his own "Catechism of Christian Doctrine".

Since the formation of priests was one of his priorities, he reopened the seminary, which he considered "the apple of his eye", and therefore he would often say: "A Bishop can do without the miter, the crosier and even without the cathedral, but he cannot do without the seminary, since the future of his Diocese depends on it".

With this profound sense of priestly paternity he faced new persecutions and exiles, but he always guaranteed the formation of the students.

The example of St Rafael Guízar y Valencia is a call to his brother Bishops and priests to consider as fundamental in pastoral programs, beyond the spirit of poverty and evangelization, the promotion of priestly and religious vocations, and their formation according to the heart of Jesus!

St Filippo Smaldone, son of South Italy, knew how to instill in his life the higher virtues characteristic of his land.

A priest with a great heart nourished continuously on prayer and Eucharistic adoration, he was above all a witness and servant of charity, which he manifested in an eminent way through service to the poor, in particular to deaf-mutes, to whom he dedicated himself entirely.

The work that he began developed thanks to the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts founded by him and which spread to various parts of Italy and the world.

St Filippo Smaldone saw the image of God reflected in deaf-mutes, and he used to repeat that, just as we prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament, so we should kneel before a deaf-mute.

From his example we welcome the invitation to consider the ever indivisible love for the Eucharist and love for one's neighbor. But the true capacity to love the brethren can come only from meeting with the Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

St Rose Venerini is another example of a faithful disciple of Christ, ready to give up all in order to do the will of God. She loved to say: "I find myself so bound to the divine will that neither death nor life is important: I want to live as he wishes and I want to serve him as he likes, and nothing more" (Biografia Andreucci, p. 515).

From here, from this surrender to God, sprang the long-admired work that she courageously developed in favor of the spiritual elevation and authentic emancipation of the young women of her time.

St Rose did not content herself with providing the girls an adequate education, but she was concerned with assuring their complete formation, with sound references to the Church's doctrinal teaching.

Her own apostolic style continues to characterize the life of the Congregation of the Religious Teachers Venerini which she founded. And how timely and important for today's society is this service, which puts them in the field of education and especially of the formation of women.

"Go, sell everything you own, and give the money to the poor... then come, follow me". These words have inspired countless Christians throughout the history of the Church to follow Christ in a life of radical poverty, trusting in Divine Providence.

Among these generous disciples of Christ was a young Frenchwoman, who responded unreservedly to the call of the divine Teacher. Mother Théodore Guérin entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence in 1823, and she devoted herself to the work of teaching in schools. Then, in 1839, she was asked by her Superiors to travel to the United States to become the head of a new community in Indiana.

After their long journey over land and sea, the group of six Sisters arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. There they found a simple log-cabin chapel in the heart of the forest. They knelt down before the Blessed Sacrament and gave thanks, asking God's guidance upon the new foundation.

With great trust in Divine Providence, Mother Théodore overcame many challenges and persevered in the work that the Lord had called her to do. By the time of her death in 1856, the Sisters were running schools and orphanages throughout the State of Indiana.

In her own words, "How much good has been accomplished by the Sisters of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods! How much more good they will be able to do if they remain faithful to their holy vocation!".

Mother Théodore Guérin is a beautiful spiritual figure and a model of the Christian life. She was always open for the missions the Church entrusted to her, and she found the strength and the boldness to put them [the missions] into practice in the Eucharist, in prayer and in an infinite trust in Divine Providence. Her inner strength moved her to address particular attention to the poor, and above all to children.

Dear brothers and sisters, we give thanks to the Lord for the gift of holiness that today shines forth in the Church with singular beauty.

Jesus also invites us, like these Saints, to follow him in order to have an inheritance in eternal life. May their exemplary witness illuminate and encourage especially young people, so that they may allow themselves to be won over by Christ, by his glance full of love.

May Mary, Queen of the Saints, raise up among the Christian people, men and women like St Rafael Guízar y Valencia, St Filippo Smaldone, St Rose Venerini and St Théodore Guérin, ready to abandon all for the Kingdom of God; disposed to make their own the logic of gift and service, the only one that saves the world. Amen.


Pope's Address After Viewing Film on John Paul II
"A Tireless Prophet of Hope and Peace"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave March 30, after viewing the film on John Paul II entitled "Karol: A Pope Who Remained a Man," shown in Paul VI Hall.

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Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

While images of this interesting new presentation of John Paul II's pontificate are still vivid in my mind and heart, I address my cordial thoughts to those who contributed to making this film entitled "Karol: A Pope Who Remained a Man." This evening we relived the emotions we felt last May, when we saw the first part of the film in this same hall shortly after the beloved Pontiff passed away.

I am grateful to the director and scriptwriter, Giacomo Battiato, and to his collaborators who with wise skill have presented to us anew the most important events in the apostolic ministry of my venerable Predecessor; I address a heartfelt "thank you" to Piotr Adamczyk, the actor who in playing the lead role brought his face to life, as well as to the other actors; I would like to express sincere appreciation to Pietro Valsecchi, the producer, and to the directors of the production companies, Taodue and Mediaset, who are present here.

The story of the beloved Pontiff's earthly life ends with this second part of the film. We heard again the initial appeal of his pontificate, so frequently re-echoed in the course of the years: "Open wide the doors to Christ! Do not be afraid!" The motion pictures showed us a Pope in deep contact with God and, for this very reason, always sensitive to the expectations of others.

The film has made us think ideally of his apostolic journeys in every part of the world; it has given us an opportunity to relive his meetings with numerous people, with the great figures of this earth, simple citizens, illustrious personages and unknown people. Among them all, his embrace with Mother Teresa of Calcutta deserves mention. She was linked to John Paul II by an intimate spiritual harmony.

Glued to the spot as though we were present, we heard once again the shots of the tragic attempt on his life in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981. From it all emerged the figure of a tireless prophet of hope and peace, who trod the paths of the globe to communicate the Gospel to all. His vibrant words condemning the oppression of totalitarian regimes, homicidal violence and war spring to mind; words full of comfort and hope, to express closeness to the relatives of the victims of conflicts and dramatic attacks, such as the one on the twin towers in New York; words of courage and denunciation addressed to the consumer society and the culture of hedonism that simply seek to achieve material well-being, which cannot satisfy the human heart's deep expectations.

These are the sentiments that spontaneously well up in my heart this evening and which I wanted to share with you, dear brothers and sisters, by reviewing, with the help of this film's images, the phases of the unforgettable pontificate of John Paul II. May the beloved Pontiff accompany us from on high and obtain for us from the Lord the grace to be, like him, ever faithful to our mission. My blessing to all of you present here and to your loved ones.


Papal Homily for Anniversary of John Paul II's Death
"A 'Rock' of Faith"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 10, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered during the April 3 Mass in St. Peter's Square. The Mass was celebrated to mark the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days, on the first anniversary of his death, the memory of the Servant of God John Paul II is particularly vivid throughout the Church and the world.

With the Marian Vigil yesterday evening, we relived the precise moment of his devout passing one year ago, whereas today we are here in this same St. Peter's Square to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice in suffrage for his chosen soul.

Together with the cardinals, bishops, priests and religious, I greet with affection the numerous pilgrims who have arrived from very many places, especially from Poland, to bear witness to their esteem, affection and deep gratitude. Let us pray for this beloved Pontiff, allowing ourselves to be illuminated by the Word of God we have just heard.

In the First Reading from the Book of Wisdom, we were reminded of the eternal destiny that awaits the righteous: a destiny of superabundant happiness, an incomparable reward for the sufferings and trials they faced during their lives. "God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them" (Wisdom 3:5-6).

The term "burnt offering" refers to the sacrifice in which the victim was entirely burned, consumed by the flames; consequently, it was a sign of total offering to God. This biblical _expression reminds us of the mission of John Paul II, who made his life a gift to God and to the Church and, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, lived out the sacrificial dimension of his priesthood.

Among the invocations dear to him was one that comes from the "Litanie di Gesùù Cristo Sacerdote e Vittima" that he chose to place at the end of his book "Gift and Mystery," published on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood (cf. pp. 113-116): "Iesu, Pontifex qui tradidisti temetipsum Deo oblationem et hostiam -- Jesus, High Priest who gave yourself to God as offering and victim, have mercy on us."

How frequently did he repeat this invocation! It expresses clearly the profoundly priestly character of his whole life. He never made a mystery of his desire to become increasingly one with Christ the Priest through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, a source of tireless apostolic dedication.

It was faith, of course, that was at the root of this total offering of himself. In the Second Reading that we have just heard, St. Peter too uses the image of the gold tested by fire and applies it to faith (cf. 1 Peter 1:7). In fact, in life's difficulties it is especially the quality of the faith of each one of us that is tried and tested: its firmness, its purity, its consistency with life. Well, the late Pontiff, whom God had endowed with multiple human and spiritual gifts, in passing through the crucible of apostolic labors and sickness, appeared more and more as a "rock" of faith.

To those who had the opportunity to be close to him, that firm and forthright faith was almost tangible. If it impressed the circle of his collaborators, it did not fail during his long pontificate to spread its beneficial influence throughout the Church in a crescendo that reached its highest point in the last months and days of his life.
It was a convinced, strong and authentic faith -- free of the fears and compromises that have infected the hearts of so many people -- thanks partly to his many apostolic pilgrimages in every part of the world, and especially thanks to that last "journey," his agony and his death.

The Gospel passage that has just been proclaimed helps us to understand another aspect of his human and religious personality. We might say that among the apostles, he, the Successor of Peter, supremely imitated John the "beloved disciple," who stood under the Cross with Mary at the moment of the Redeemer's abandonment and death. The evangelist relates that Jesus, when he saw them standing near, entrusted the one to the other: "Woman, behold, your son!"... "Behold, your mother!" (John 19:26-27).

The dying Lord's words were particularly dear to John Paul II. Like the apostle and evangelist, he too wanted to take Mary into his home: "et ex illa hora accepit eam discipulus in sua" (John 19:27). The _expression "accepit eam in sua" is singularly compact. It indicates John's decision to make Mary share in his own life, so as to experience that whoever opens his heart to Mary is actually accepted by her and becomes her own. The motto that stands out in the coat of arms of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, "Totus tuus," sums up this spiritual and mystical experience well, in a life completely oriented to Christ through Mary: "ad Iesum per Mariam."

Dear brothers and sisters, this evening our thoughts turn with emotion to the moment of the beloved Pontiff's death, but at the same time our hearts are, as it were, impelled to look ahead. We feel reverberating within them his repeated invitations to advance without fear on the path of fidelity to the Gospel, to be heralds and witnesses of Christ in the third millennium. We cannot but recall his ceaseless exhortations to cooperate generously in creating a more just humanity with greater solidarity, to be peacemakers and builders of hope.

May our gaze always remain fixed on Christ, "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8), who firmly guides his Church. We believe in his love and it is the encounter with him that "gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," No. 1).

May the power of Jesus' Spirit be for you all a source of peace and joy, dear brothers and sisters, as it was for Pope John Paul II. And may the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, help us to be in all circumstances, as he was, tireless apostles of his divine Son and prophets of his merciful love.



Benedict XVI's Homily on Feast of St. Joseph
"Man Is Subject and Protagonist of Work"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 19, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today during a Mass dedicated to workers, in anticipation of Monday's feast of St. Joseph. Today was the third Sunday of Lent.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We have heard together a well-known passage of the Book of Exodus, in which the holy author recounts God's giving of the Decalogue to Israel.

A detail causes an immediate impression: The enunciation of the Commandments is introduced by a significant reference to the liberation of the people of Israel. The text says: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:20). The Decalogue, therefore, is a confirmation of the freedom won.

In fact, if the Commandments are examined in depth, they are the means the Lord gives us to defend our freedom both from the internal conditionings of the passions as well as from the external abuses of the malicious. The "noes" of the Commandments are as many "yeses" to the growth of authentic freedom. There is a second dimension in the Decalogue which must also be emphasized: Through the Law given by Moses' hand, the Lord reveals that he wills to conclude a covenant with Israel.

Therefore, more than an imposition, the Law is a gift. More than commanding what man must do, the Law manifests God's choice to all: He is on the side of the chosen people; he has delivered them from slavery and surrounds them with merciful kindness. The Decalogue is a testimony of a love of predilection.

Today's liturgy gives us a second message: The Mosaic law has found fulfillment in Jesus, who revealed the wisdom and love of God through the mystery of the Cross, "a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles," as St. Paul says to us in the second reading, "but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). The Gospel page just proclaimed makes reference precisely to this mystery: Jesus drives the vendors and money changers from the temple. The evangelist gives the key to the reading of this significant episode through the verse of a Psalm: "Zeal for your house consumes me" (Psalm 68[69]:10).

It is Jesus who is "consumed" by this "zeal" for "God's house," used for purposes other than those for which it was designed. In response to the request of the religious leaders for a sign of his authority, amid the astonishment of those present, he affirms: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:19).

Mysterious words, incomprehensible at the moment, but which John reformulates for his Christian readers, observing: "He spoke of the temple of his body" (John 2:21). That "temple" would be destroyed by his adversaries, but, after three days, he would rebuild it through the resurrection. Christ's painful and "scandalous" death will be crowned by the triumph of his glorious resurrection. While in this Lenten season we prepare to relive in the Easter triduum this central event of our salvation, we already see the crucified one perceiving in him the splendor of the risen one.

Dear brothers and sisters: Today's Eucharistic celebration, which unites the meditations of the liturgical texts of the third Sunday of Lent with the remembrance of St. Joseph, gives us the opportunity to consider, in the light of the paschal mystery, another important aspect of human existence. I am referring to the reality of work, situated today at the center of rapid and complex changes.

In various passages, the Bible shows how work belongs to man's original condition. When the creator made man to his image and likeness, he invited him to work the earth (Genesis 2:5-6). It was because of the sin of our fathers that work was transformed into effort and pain (Genesis 3:6-8), but in the divine plan it keeps its value unaltered. The Son of God himself, making himself similar to us in everything, dedicated himself for many years to manual activities, so much so that he was known as the "son of the carpenter" (Matthew 13:55).

The Church has always shown, especially in the last century, attention and concern for this realm of society, as attested by the magisterium's numerous social interventions and the action of many associations of Christian inspiration, some of which are gathered here today to represent the whole world of laborers.

I am happy to welcome you, dear friends, and to each of you I address my cordial greeting. I address a special thought to Bishop Arrigo Miglio of Ivrea and president of the Italian episcopal Commission for Social Problems and Work, Justice and Peace, who has made himself interpreter of your common sentiments and manifested kind expressions of congratulations for my name day. I am very grateful to him.

Work is of primary importance for man's fulfillment and the development of society, and this is why it is necessary that it always be organized and developed in full respect of human dignity and at the service of the common good. At the same time, it is indispensable that man not allow himself to be subjected to work, that he not idolize it, intending to find in it the ultimate and definitive meaning of life.

In this connection, the invitation contained in the first reading is timely: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God" (Exodus 20:8-9). The Sabbath is a holy day, namely, consecrated to God, in which man understands better the meaning of his existence and also of his work activity. Therefore, it can be affirmed that the biblical teaching on work finds its coronation in the commandment to rest.

In this regard, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church observes opportunely: "To man, bound to the necessity of work, rest opens the perspective of a fuller liberty, that of the eternal Sabbath (cf. Hebrew 4:9-10). Rest allows men to remember and relive God's works, from the creation to the redemption, recognize themselves has His work (cf. Hebrew 2:10) to give thanks to him who is their author for their life and their existence" (No. 258).

Work activity must serve the true good of humanity, allowing "man, as individual and member of society, to cultivate and fulfill his full vocation" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 35). For this to occur, the necessary technical and professional qualification is not enough; neither is the creation of a just social order attentive to the good of all sufficient. A spirituality must be lived that will help believers to sanctify themselves through their work, imitating St. Joseph, who every day had to provide for the needs of the Holy Family with his hands, and who because of this the Church indicates as patron of workers.

His testimony shows that man is subject and protagonist of work. I would like to entrust to him the young people who have difficulty in entering the world of work, the unemployed and those who suffer the inconveniences due to the widespread occupational crisis. Together with Mary, his spouse, may St. Joseph watch over all workers and obtain serenity and peace for families and for the whole of humanity. Contemplating this great saint, may Christians learn to witness in all labor realms the love of Christ, source of true solidarity and stable peace. Amen!


Benedict XVI Offers Blesseds As Models of Charity

Receives Pilgrims Who Attended Beatification

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2005 ( The newly beatified Marianne Cope and Ascensión of the Heart of Jesus are "exemplary witnesses of the charity of Christ," says Benedict XVI.

Receiving in audience today the 2,500 pilgrims who traveled to Rome for their beatification in St. Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father reviewed the testimony of the two religious.

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, presided over the ceremony on Saturday in the Pope's name.

"These two new blesseds help us to better understand the meaning and value of our Christian vocation," said the Holy Father in Italian to the faithful -- among whom were many Latin Americans, Spaniards and Americans -- congregated in the Paul VI Hall.

Speaking in English, the Pope referred to the life of American Marianne Cope (1838-1918) as "one of profound faith and love which bore fruit in a missionary spirit of immense hope and trust."

"In 1862 she entered the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, where she imbibed the particular spirituality of Saint Francis of Assisi, dedicating herself wholeheartedly to spiritual and corporal works of mercy," he added.

"Her own experience of consecrated life saw an extraordinary apostolate unfold, adorned with heroic virtue," continued the Pontiff.

"As is well known, while Mother Marianne was superior general of her congregation the then bishop of Honolulu invited the order to come to Hawaii and work among the lepers. Leprosy was spreading rapidly and causing unspeakable suffering and misery among the afflicted," he said.

"Fifty other congregations received the same plea for assistance, but only Mother Marianne, in the name of her sisters, responded positively. True to the charism of the order and in imitation of Saint Francis, who had embraced lepers, Mother Marianne volunteered for the mission with a trusting 'Yes!' And for 35 years, until her death in 1918, our new blessed dedicated her life to the love and service of lepers on the islands of Maui and Molokai."

"Undoubtedly, the generosity of Mother Marianne was, humanly speaking, exemplary. Good intentions and selflessness alone, however, do not adequately explain her vocation. It is only the perspective of faith which enables us to understand her witness -- as a Christian and as a religious -- to the sacrificial love which reaches its fullness in Jesus Christ. All that she achieved was inspired by her personal love of the Lord, which she in turn expressed through her love of those abandoned and rejected by society in a most wretched way."

"Let us today be inspired by Blessed Marianne Cope to renew our commitment to walk the path of holiness," stated the Holy Father.

Speaking in Spanish, Benedict XVI also spoke about Ascensión of the Heart of Jesus (1868-1940), who was christened Florentina Nicol Goñi, co-founder of the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary, instituted for the evangelization of the Amazonian tribes.

Addressing these religious, the Holy Father encouraged them to follow the example of their blessed founder, keeping "alive the experience of God's closeness in the missionary life."

Benedict XVI said that Ascensión of the Heart of Jesus liked to say: "how very close one feels God."