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Saturday, September 24, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter from Erfurt to Etzelsbach where he arrived at 5.30 p.m. He then went to the nearby Wallfahrtskapelle to celebrate Marian Vespers and the Liturgy of the Hours with thousands of faithful gathered there.

In his address the Pope recalled the role that this Marian shrine has had in German history. "During two godless dictatorships, which sought to deprive the people of their ancestral faith, the inhabitants of Eichsfeld were in no doubt that here in this shrine at Etzelsbach an open door and a place of inner peace was to be found", he said.

The Holy Father then turned to consider the Pieta conserved in the chapel. "A particular feature of that holy image", he said, "is the position of Our Lord's body. The wounded side of the crucified Lord ... is concealed, because the body is facing the other way. It seems to me that a deep meaning lies hidden in this representation, that only becomes apparent through silent contemplation: in the Etzelsbach image, the hearts of Jesus and His mother are turned to one another; they come close to each other. They exchange their love. ... In Mary's heart there is room for the love that her divine Son wants to bestow upon the world".

"It is not self-fulfilment that truly enables people to flourish, according to the model that modern life so often proposes to us, which can easily turn into a sophisticated form of selfishness. Rather it is an attitude of self-giving directed towards the heart of Mary and hence also towards the heart of the Redeemer", the Holy Father explained.

"With Mary, God has worked for good in everything, and He does not cease, through Mary, to cause good to spread further in the world. Looking down from the Cross, from the throne of grace and salvation, Jesus gave us His mother Mary to be our mother. ... At the foot of the Cross, Mary becomes our fellow traveller and protector on life's journey. ... In life we pass through high-points and low-points, but Mary intercedes for us with her Son and conveys to us the strength of divine love".

When the Blessed Virgin rescues us from plight, "with a mother's tenderness, she wants to make us understand that our whole life should be a response to the love of our God, Who is so rich in mercy. 'Understand,' she seems to say to us, 'that God, Who is the source of all that is good and Who never desires anything other than your true happiness, has the right to demand of you a life that yields unreservedly and joyfully to His will, striving at the same time that others may do likewise'. Where God is, there is a future. Indeed, when we allow God's love to influence the whole of our lives, then heaven stands open. ... Then the little things of everyday life acquire meaning, and great problems find solutions".

The celebration was followed by the adoration of the Eucharist, the final blessing and the praying of the 'Salve Regina'. Before leaving the chapel to return to Erfurt, the Holy Father left a golden rosary at the feet of the Virgin in sign of profound veneration.
PV-GERMANY/ VIS 20110924 (560)

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