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Monday, May 9, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2011 (VIS) - At 6:00pm the Pope met with representatives from the areas of culture, art, and economics in the Basilica of St. Mary of Health in Venice.

  The Holy Father offered a few reflections based on three words that he called "suggestive metaphors". They are "three words tied to Venice and, in particular, to the place in which we meet: the first is 'water'; the second is 'health'; and the third is 'Serenissima'" ("Most Serene", a title referring to the Venetian Republic).

  Commenting on the fact that Venice is a "city of water", Benedict XVI offered this proposal: "Venice, not a 'liquid' city but a city 'of life and beauty'. ... This means choosing between a 'liquid' city, birthplace of a culture that seems ever more relative and ephemeral, and a city that constantly renews its beauty, drawing upon the beneficial sources of art, knowledge, and the relationships between persons and between peoples".

  Then, referring to the second word, he explained that "'health' is an all encompassing and integral reality. It goes from the 'doing well' that allows us to calmly live a day of study and work or of vacation up to the 'salus animae' or health of the soul, from that which our eternal destiny depends upon. ... Jesus revealed that God loves life and wants to free it from every negation, even the most radical one, which is spiritual evil, sin, the venomous root that contaminates all. This is why Jesus himself can be called the 'Health' of humankind. ...Jesus saves humanity ... submerges it in this pure and invigorating current that frees humanity from its physical, psychic, and spiritual 'paralyses'. It cures humanity of its hardness of heart, its selfish isolation, and makes it taste the possibility of truly encountering itself, becoming lost in the love of God and neighbor".

  Finally, the third word, "Serenissima", the name of the Venetian Republic that "speaks to us of a civilization of peace, based on mutual respect, reciprocal understanding,  and relationships of friendship". In this sense he noted that "Venice has a long history and a rich human, spiritual, and artistic patrimony to also be able to offer today a precious contribution for helping persons to envision a better future and to work toward it. This is why, therefore, it should not be afraid of another emblematic element contained in the shield of St. Mark: the Gospel. The Gospel is the greatest strength of transformation in the world, but it is neither a utopia nor an ideology".

  On taking his leave, the Pope greeted Venice's Jewish community, the Muslims who live in the city, and finally "the pilgrim Church here and throughout the Triveneto dioceses".

  Benedict XVI later blessed the Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity, which has been recently restored, and officially inaugurated the Studium Generale Marcianum Library. From the residence of the Patriarchal Seminary he left for the Marco Polo Airport of Tessera where he returned by plane to Rome. From Rome's Ciampino Airport he travelled by helicopter to the Vatican where he arrived at 9:00pm.
PV-ITALY/                                VIS 20110509 (510)

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