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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2010

Pope Benedict XVI's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Wednesday 8 December 2010 - also in Croatian, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today our meeting for the prayer of the Angelus acquires a special light in the context of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In the Liturgy of this Feast the Gospel of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38) is proclaimed. It contains, precisely, the dialogue between the Angel Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”, God’s messenger says, and in this way reveals Mary’s most profound identity, the “name” so to speak, with which God himself recognizes her: “full of grace”. This expression that is so familiar from childhood because we say it every time that we recite the “Hail Mary”, gives us the explanation of the mystery we are celebrating today. In fact, from the moment when she was conceived by her parents, Mary was the object of unique favour on the part of God who, in his eternal plan, chose her in advance to be Mother of his Son made man and, consequently, preserved from original sin. Therefore the Angel addressed her with this name which means implicitly, “always filled with God’s love”, with his grace.

The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is a source of inner light, hope and comfort. Amidst the trials of life and, especially, the contradictions that man experiences within and around himself. Mary, Mother of Christ, tells us that Grace is greater than sin, that God’s mercy is more powerful than evil and it is able to transform it into good. Unfortunately, every day we experience evil, which is manifested in many ways including relationships and events, but whose root is in the human heart, a wounded, sick heart that is incapable of healing itself. Sacred Scripture reveals to us that the origin of all evil is disobedience to God’s will and that death has the upper hand because human freedom has yielded to the temptation of the Evil One.

But God does not fail in his plan of love and life: through a long and patient process of reconciliation he prepared the new and eternal Covenant, sealed in the Blood of his Son, who in order to offer himself in expiation was “born of woman” (Gal 4:4). This woman, the Virgin Mary, benefited in advance from the redeeming death of her Son and was preserved from the contagion of sin from the moment of her conception. Therefore, with her Immaculate Heart, she tells us: entrust yourselves to Jesus, he saves you.

Dear friends, this afternoon I shall renew the traditional homage to the Immaculate Virgin at the monument dedicated to in Piazza di Spagna. With this act of devotion I make myself an interpreter of the love of the faithful of Rome and of the whole world for the Mother that Christ has given to us. I entrust to her intercession the most pressing needs of the Church and of the world. May she help us above all to have faith in God, to believe in his Word, always to reject evil and to choose good."

After the Angelus:

"In today’s event, I have the joy of greeting the Pontifical Academy of Mary Immaculate. Dear friends, I invoke upon each one of you the motherly protection of the Virgin Mary and I entrust your activities to her intercession. Thank you for your generous work.

I also address a special thought to the Italian Catholic Action which today, in many parishes, is renewing its commitment in the Church. Recalling the important celebration lived with the children and young people here in St Peter’s Square at the end of October, I express to all members my affection and my closeness. I encourage them to walk on the path of holiness, bringing the light of the Gospel to the places of everyday life.

La prière de l’Angelus me donne la joie de saluer les pèlerins francophones! La Solennité de l’Immaculée Conception nous rappelle la coopération de Marie au Mystère de la Rédemption. Préfiguration de l’Église et prototype de l’humanité rachetée, Marie nous apprend à cultiver en nous la joie de ceux qui sont aimés, pardonnés et sauvés par Dieu. Puisse-t-elle nous aider à faire de nos cœurs et de nos corps des demeures dignes de son Fils! Bonne fête à tous!

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today the Church joyfully celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. By her prayers, may our hearts and minds be kept free from sin, so that like Mary we may be spiritually prepared to welcome Christ. Let us turn to her, the Immaculate, who brought Christ to us, and ask her now to bring us to Him. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

Zum heutigen Marienfest grüße ich gerne alle deutschsprachigen Pilger, besonders die Mitglieder und Freunde der Schönstattbewegung aus Deutschland. Gott hat Maria vor aller Sünde bewahrt, um seinem Sohn eine würdige Wohnung zu bereiten. In ihr setzt der Herr einen Neuanfang der Geschichte. Er zeigt uns, daß sein Heil größer ist als alle Unzulänglichkeit des Menschen. Die Erwählung Marias gibt uns Hoffnung und lädt uns ein, Mitarbeiter am Heilswerk Gottes zu werden. Bitten wir Maria um ihre Fürsprache, daß auch wir zu Gottes Willen ja sagen und auf dem Weg der Heiligkeit voranschreiten. Euch allen wünsche ich einen frohen und gesegneten Festtag.

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los profesores y alumnos del Colegio Claret, de Madrid. En este día en que la Iglesia celebra la fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción de la Virgen María, nos dirigimos a la madre del Señor para que ilumine con su luz este tiempo de vigilante y confiada espera del Salvador, que es el Adviento. Para que, meditando con docilidad la palabra de Dios, sepamos acoger a Cristo en nuestra vida y llevarlo a los demás, con el testimonio de nuestra fe y caridad. Feliz fiesta de la Inmaculada.

Pozdrawiam wszystkich Polaków. Oddajemy dziś hołd Maryi, niepokalanie poczętej. Bóg zachował Ją od zmazy grzechu pierworodnego i obdarował pełnią łaski, aby Ją przygotować na godną Matkę Bożego Syna. Jej zawierzamy nasze adwentowe oczekiwanie na przyjście Pana. Niech Bóg wam błogosławi!

Saluto infine i pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare il gruppo dell’Opera della Chiesa e l’associazione “Ancis Politeia”. A tutti auguro una buona e serena festa dell’Immacolata Concezione. Buona festa a voi tutti, grazie."

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Papa Benedict XVI's Prayer to Mary
Piazza di Spagna, 8th December 2010 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year too we have arranged to meet here, in Piazza di Spagna, to pay homage to the Immaculate Virgin on the occasion of her solemn Feast. I address my cordial greeting to all of you who have come here in great numbers, as well as to those who are taking part via radio and television. We are gathered round this historic monument, which today is surrounded by a mass of flowers, a sign of the love and devotion of the Roman People for the Mother of Jesus. The most beautiful gift, the most pleasing to her and which we are offering to her, is our prayer, the prayers we carry in our hearts and entrust to her intercession. They are invocations of thanksgiving and petition: thanksgiving for the gift of faith and for all the good we receive from God; and petition for the various needs, for the family, for health and for work, for every difficulty that life makes us encounter.

But when we come here, especially on this occasion of 8 December, what we receive from Mary is far more important than what we offer her. In fact, she gives us a message destined for each one of us, for the City of Rome and for the whole world. I, who am the Bishop of this City, also come to listen, not only for myself, but for everyone. And what does Mary say? She speaks to us with the Word of God who was made flesh in her womb. Her “message” is nothing other than Jesus, the One who is the whole of her life. It is thanks to him and for him that she is Immaculate. And just as the Son of God became a man for our sake, so too she, the Mother, was preserved from sin for our sake, for everyone, in anticipation of God’s salvation for every human being.

Thus Mary tells us that we are all called to open ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit in order, in our ultimate destiny, to attain an immaculate state, fully and definitively free from evil. She tells us this with her own holiness, with her gaze full of hope and compassion which evokes words such as these: “Do not fear, my child, God loves you; he loves you personally; he thought of you before you came into the world and called you into being to fill you with love and with life; and for this reason he came to meet you, he made himself like you, he became Jesus, God-man, like you in all things but without sin; he gave himself for your sake to the point of dying on the Cross, and thus he gave you a new life, free, holy and immaculate” (cf Eph 1:3-5).

Mary gives us this message and, when I come here on this Feast, it impresses me because I feel it is addressed to the whole City, to all the men and women who live in Rome: even to those who do not think of it, who do not even remember that today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception; to those who feel lonely and forsaken.

Mary’s gaze is God’s gaze upon each one of us. She looks at us with the Father’s love itself and blesses us. She acts as our “advocate” and we invoke her thus in the Salve, Regina: Advocata nostra. Even if everyone were to speak badly of us, she, the Mother, would speak well of us because her immaculate Heart is in tune with God’s mercy. So it is that she sees the City: not as an anonymous agglomeration but as a constellation in which God knows each one personally by name, one by one, and calls us to shine with his light. And those who in the world’s eyes are the first, to God are the lowliest; those who are little to God are great.

The Mother looks at us as God looked at her, a humble young girl of Nazareth, insignificant in the world’s eyes but chosen and precious to God. He recognizes in each one his or her likeness to his Son Jesus, even though we are so different! But who knows the power of divine Grace better than her? Who knows better than her that nothing is impossible for God who can even draw good from evil?

This, dear brothers and sisters, is the message we receive here, at the feet of Mary Immaculate.

It is a message of trust for every person of this City and of the whole world; a message of hope not made of words but of her history itself. She, a woman of our lineage, who gave birth to the Son of God and shared her whole life with him! And today she tells us: this is also your destiny, your own destiny and the destiny of all: to be holy like our Father, to be immaculate like our Brother Jesus Christ, to be loved children, all adopted in order to form a great family with no boundaries of colour or language, because God, Father of every human being, is one.

Thank you, O Mother Immaculate, for being with us always! May you never cease to watch over our City: comfort the sick, encourage the young and sustain families. Instill in them the strength to reject evil in all its forms and to choose good, even when it comes at a cost and entails going against the tide. Give us the joy to feel loved by God, blessed by him, predestined to be his children.

Immaculate Virgin, our sweetest Mother, pray for us!"