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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2007

Pope Benedict XVI's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Saturday 8 December 2007 - also in Croatian, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the path of Advent shines the star of Mary Immaculate, "a sign of certain hope and comfort" (Lumen Gentium, n. 68). To reach Jesus, the true light, the sun that dispels all the darkness of history, we need light near us, human people who reflect Christ's light and thus illuminate the path to take. And what person is more luminous than Mary? Who can be a better star of hope for us than she, the dawn that announced the day of salvation? (cf. Spe Salvi, n. 49). For this reason, the liturgy has us celebrate today, as Christmas approaches, the Solemn Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary: the mystery of God's grace that enfolded her from the first instant of her existence as the creature destined to be Mother of the Redeemer, preserving her from the stain of original sin. Looking at her, we recognize the loftiness and beauty of God's plan for everyone: to become holy and immaculate in love (cf. Eph 1: 4), in the image of our Creator.

What a great gift to have Mary Immaculate as mother! A mother resplendent with beauty, the transparency of God's love. I am thinking of today's young people, who grow up in an environment saturated with messages that propose false models of happiness. These young men and women risk losing hope because they often seem orphans of true love, which fills life with true meaning and joy. This was a theme dear to my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II, who so often proposed Mary to the youth of our time as the "Mother of Fair Love". Unfortunately, numerous experiences tell us that adolescents, young people and even children easily fall prey to corrupt love, deceived by unscrupulous adults who, lying to themselves and to them, lure them into the deadends of consumerism; even the most sacred realities, like the human body, a temple of God's love and of life, thus become objects of consumption and this is happening earlier, even in pre-adolescence. How sad it is when youth lose the wonder, the enchantment of the most beautiful sentiments, the value of respect for the body, the manifestation of the person and his unfathomable mystery!

Mary Immaculate, whom we contemplate in all her beauty and holiness, reminds us of all this. From the Cross, Jesus entrusted her to John and to all the disciples (cf. Jn 19: 27), and from that moment she has been the Mother of all humanity, the Mother of hope. Let us address our prayer to her with faith, while we go in spirit on pilgrimage to Lourdes where on this very day a special Jubilee Year begins on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of her apparitions in the Grotto of Massabielle. May Mary Immaculate, "Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way!" (Spe Salvi, n. 50)."

After the Angelus:

"In questa solennità mariana, come di consueto rivolgo un saluto particolare alla Pontificia Accademia dell’Immacolata e al suo Presidente, il Cardinale Andrea Maria Deskur. Su tutti i membri ed amici dell’Accademia invoco la costante protezione della Vergine Maria. Arrivederci nel pomeriggio a Piazza di Spagna!

Je vous salue, chers pèlerins de langue française, particulièrement les personnes de l’ensemble paroissial de Labarthe et Venerque, dans le diocèse de Toulouse. En son Fils Jésus, Dieu le Père a choisi Marie, pour qu’elle soit sainte et irréprochable sous son regard, la préparant à être la terre où germerait le salut. À la suite de Marie, puissions-nous dire "oui" au Seigneur pour que tout se passe en nous selon sa parole. Avec ma Bénédiction apostolique.

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. With immense joy, the Church celebrates this Solemn Feast of the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from the stain of original sin to prepare a worthy dwelling place for his beloved Son. Dear friends, I pray that by gazing upon her, you will see the purest sign of hope in God’s saving mercy. A happy feast day to all!

Mit Freude grüße ich alle Brüder und Schwestern deutscher Zunge. Am heutigen Hochfest feiern wir, daß Gott die Jungfrau Maria zur Wohnstatt seines Sohnes erwählt und vom ersten Augenblick ihres Daseins vor jeder Sünde bewahrt hat. Durch sie kommt Jesus Christus, die Hoffnung und das Heil der Menschen, zu uns. So ist Maria die Mutter und der Stern der Hoffnung auf unserem Lebensweg. Wir dürfen darauf vertrauen, daß der Herr auch uns aus den Verstrickungen in das Böse befreit und uns das wahre Leben schenken will. Euch allen wünsche ich einen frohen Festtag!

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española presentes en esta oración mariana. Que Santa María, la Virgen, en esta solemnidad de su Purísima Concepción, tan arraigada en España y Latinoamérica, fortalezca vuestra fe, interceda por vosotros y os indique el camino hacia el reino de su Hijo Jesucristo. ¡Muchas gracias!

Pozdrawiam wszystkich Polaków. Oddajemy dziś hołd Maryi, niepokalanie poczętej. Zanim wydała na świat Bożego Syna, Bóg już zachował Ją od zmazy grzechu pierworodnego i obdarował pełnią łaski. Jej zawierzamy nasze adwentowe oczekiwanie na przyjście Pana. Niech Bóg wam błogosławi.

Rivolgo un augurio speciale ai soci dell’Azione Cattolica Italiana, che in questa data nelle parrocchie rinnovano la loro adesione all’associazione. Possano i ragazzi, i giovani e gli adulti dell’Azione Cattolica offrire alla Chiesa ed alla società una gioiosa testimonianza di santità laicale.

Saluto i pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare i numerosi membri dell'Opera della Chiesa, che incoraggio nel loro impegno di preghiera e di apostolato. A tutti auguro una buona festa dell'Immacolata."

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Papa Benedetto's Prayer to Mary Immaculate
Piazza di Spagna, 8th December 2007 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At an event which has now become a tradition, we are meeting here at the Spanish Steps to offer our floral tribute to Our Lady on the day when the whole Church celebrates the feast of her Immaculate Conception. Following in the footsteps of my Predecessors, I also join you, dear faithful of Rome, to pause at Mary's feet with filial affection and love. For 150 years she has watched over our City from the top of this pillar. Today's act is a gesture of faith and devotion which our Christian community repeats from year to year, as if to reaffirm its commitment of fidelity to she who in every circumstance of daily life assures us of her help and motherly protection.

This expression of piety is at the same time an opportunity to offer to all who live in Rome or who are spending a few days as pilgrims and tourists, an opportunity, despite the diversity of cultures, to feel they are one family gathered around a Mother who has shared the daily efforts of every woman and mother of a family. She is, however, a completely singular mother, for she was chosen in advance by God for a unique and mysterious mission: to bring forth to earthly life the Father's Eternal Word, who came into the world for the salvation of all people. And Mary, Immaculate in her conception - this is how we venerate her today -, travelled her earthly pilgrimage sustained by undaunted faith, steadfast hope and humble and boundless love, following in the footsteps of her Son, Jesus. She was close to him with motherly solicitude from his birth to Calvary, where she witnessed his crucifixion, transfixed by suffering but with unwavering hope. She then experienced the joy of the Resurrection, at dawn on the third day, the new day, when the Crucified One left the tomb, overcoming for ever and definitively the power of sin and death.

Mary, in whose virginal womb God was made man, is our Mother! Indeed, from the Cross before bringing his sacrifice to completion, Jesus gave her to us as our Mother and entrusted us to her as her children. This is a mystery of mercy and love, a gift that enriches the Church with fruitful spiritual motherhood. Let us turn our gaze to her, especially today, dear brothers and sisters, and imploring her help, prepare ourselves to treasure all her maternal teaching. Does not our Heavenly Mother invite us to shun evil and to do good, following with docility the divine law engraved in every Christian's heart? Does not she, who preserved her hope even at the peak of her trial, ask us not to lose heart when suffering and death come knocking at the door of our homes? Does she not ask us to look confidently to our future? Does not the Immaculate Virgin exhort us to be brothers and sisters to one another, all united by the commitment to build together a world that is more just, supportive and peaceful?

Yes, dear friends! On this solemn day, the Church once again holds up Mary to the world as a sign of sure hope and of the definitive victory of good over evil. The one whom we invoke as "full of grace" reminds us that we are all brothers and sisters and that God is our Creator and our Father. Without him, or even worse, against him, we human beings will never be able to find the way that leads to love, we will never be able to defeat the power of hatred and violence, we will never be able to build a lasting peace.

May the people of every nation and culture welcome this message of light and hope: may they accept it as a gift from the hands of Mary, Mother of all humanity. If life is a journey and this journey is often dark, difficult and exhausting, what star can illuminate it? In my Encyclical Spe Salvi, published at the beginning of Advent, I wrote that the Church looks to Mary and calls on her as a "star of hope". During our common voyage on the sea of history, we stand in need of "lights of hope", that is, of people who shine with Christ's light and "so guide us along our way". And who could be a better "Star of Hope" for us than Mary? With her "yes", with the generous offering of freedom received from the Creator, she enabled the hope of the millennia to become reality, to enter this world and its history. Through her God took flesh, became one of us and pitched his tent among us.

Thus, inspired by filial trust, we say to her: "Teach us, Mary, to believe, to hope, to love with you; show us the way that leads to peace, the way to the Kingdom of Jesus. You, Star of Hope, who wait for us anxiously in the everlasting light of the eternal Homeland, shine upon us and guide us through daily events, now and at the hour of our death. Amen!"