Pope reflects on Immaculate Conception, World Day of the Sick

 Yesterday, addressing the crowds gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus, Pope John Paul focussed on the February 11th celebration of the World Day of the Sick and the 150th anniversary this year of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. "This Wednesday, February 11, liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes, we will celebrate the World Day of the Sick," said the Pope, who instituted this celebration, the first one of which took place in Lourdes on February 11, 1993. He said: "the principal events this year will take place in Lourdes where Mary appeared to St Bernadette Soubirous, calling herself 'the Immaculate Conception'. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed by my venerated predecessor, Blessed Pius IX, whose feast day we celebrated yesterday. "The link between Our Lady of Lourdes and the world of suffering and illness is very well known. At the shrine which grew from the grotto of Massabielle, sick people are always the protagonists and Lourdes has become over the years, an authentic city of life and hope. How could it be otherwise? The Immaculate Conception of Mary is, in fact, the first fruit of the redemption fulfilled by Christ and the pledge of His victory over evil. That spring of water rising from the earth, from which the Virgin Mary asked Bernadette to drink, reminds us of the power of the Spirit of Christ Who completely heals man and gives him eternal life." The Holy Father said he had named Cardinal Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, as his special envoy to the celebrations on Lourdes. After reciting the Angelus, John Paul II greeted steel workers from Terni, Italy who, he said, "have come on a pilgrimage to call attention to the crisis in this great industrial sector. I cannot forget that it was precisely there, on March 19, 1981, that I paid my first visit to an Italian factory. Dear workers, as I said then, I appreciate your firm desire to 'defend your work and its dignity'. I am close to you in your present difficulties and I hope that an equitable solution can be found for you and your families." Source: VIS

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