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Sunday, December 4, 2016
Pope felt 'spiritual support' of John Paul II during visit to Portugal
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Sanctuary at Fatima
During his general audience this morning, Benedict XVI reminisced about his recent apostolic trip to Portugal, which took place from 11 to 14 May to mark the tenth anniversary of the beatification of the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco.

The Holy Father began by explaining how throughout his journey he had felt the "spiritual support" of his predecessor John Paul II, "who visited Fatima three times, to give thanks for the 'invisible hand' that delivered him from death in the attack of 13 May here in St Peter's Square".

During Mass in the capital city of Lisbon, "whence over the centuries so many missionaries left to carry the Gospel to other continents", the Pope had called the local Church "to vigorous evangelising activity in the various areas of society, in order to sow hope in a world often marked by mistrust". In particular he had encouraged believers "to announce the death and resurrection of Christ, the core of Christianity, fulcrum and support of our faith and the reason for our joy".

Benedict XVI then went on to refer to his meeting with representatives from the world of culture, where he had "underlined the heritage of values with which Christianity has enriched the culture, art and tradition of the Portuguese people. In that noble land, as in every country deeply marked by Christianity, it is possible to build a future of fraternal understanding and collaboration with other cultures, opening reciprocally to sincere and respectful dialogue", he said.

In Fatima, "a town marked by an atmosphere of authentic mysticism, in which the presence of the Virgin is almost palpable", the Pope had been "a pilgrim among other pilgrims", who presented Our Lady with "the joys and expectations, as well as the problems and sufferings of the whole world", said the Holy Father.

He also recalled how he had celebrated Vespers in Fatima's church of the Blessed Trinity with priests, religious and deacons of Portugal, thanking them "for their witness, often silent and not always easy, and for their faithfulness to the Gospel and to the Church", inviting them to follow, in this Year for Priests, "the shining example of the 'Cure of Ars'".

The Pope mention the Rosary he had prayed with hundreds of thousands of people on the evening of 12 May, vigil of the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin. "This prayer, so dear to Christian people, has found in Fatima a driving force for all the Church and the world", he said. "We could say that Fatima and the Rosary are almost synonymous".

During the Mass of 13 May, celebrated on the esplanade of Fatima in the presence of half a million people, the Pope had reaffirmed that "the demanding but consoling message the Virgin left us at Fatima is full of hope. It is a message that focuses on prayer, penance and conversion, a message projected beyond the threats, dangers and horrors of history, inviting humankind to have faith in the action of God, to cultivate great hope, and to experience the grace of the Lord in order to love Him, the source of love and peace".

In his meeting with pastoral care organisations, Benedict XVI recalled how he had "indicated the example of the Good Samaritan, in order to meet the requirements of our most needy brothers and sisters, and to serve Christ by promoting the common good".

In his celebration of the Eucharist in Porto, "the city of the Virgin", the Pope had highlighted "the duty to bear witness to the Gospel in all environments, offering Christ to the world so that all situations of difficulty, suffering and fear may be transformed by the Holy Spirit into an opportunity for growth and life".

"'Wisdom and Mission' was the motto of my apostolic trip to Portugal", Pope Benedict concluded his reminiscences. "In Fatima the Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to walk with hope, letting ourselves be guided by the 'wisdom from on high' which was manifested in Jesus, the wisdom of love, to bring the light and joy of Christ into the world".

Source: VIS

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Tags: Fatima, John Paul II, Pope Benedict, Portugal


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