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Friday, September 3, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 3, 2004 (VIS) - When Pope John Paul travels on Sunday, September 5 to Loreto, it will be his fifth trip to the Adriatic coast where what is considered to be Italy's most important Marian shrine is located. He will be in Montorso de Loreto to conclude the pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of members of Italian Catholic Action, who began a five-day meeting on September 1.

  The pope previously traveled to Loreto in 1979, 1985, and 1994, to open the ceremonies for the seventh centenary of the shrine and again in 1995 for the closing centennial ceremonies. The sixth World Day of the Sick, instituted by this Pope, was celebrated there on February 11, 1998.

  The shrine in Loreto was built around the house where, according to tradition, the Virgin Mary received the announcement of her divine maternity and where the Holy Family lived in Nazareth. The house of the Holy Family, also according to tradition, was miraculously transported to Loreto the night of December 9-10, 1294, and has been for centuries a center of pilgrimages and Marian devotion.

  The Madonna of Loreto, in whose honor countless shrines have been built around the world, is today patroness of air travelers and of airline and air force personnel. The construction of the basilica at the Shrine of Loreto was started in 1469 and additions made over the centuries.

  In 1993 the Holy Father wrote a letter to Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, the then pontifical delegate to the shrine, in which he asked that the Holy House, "which has taken such an active part in the life of Christians during most of the last millennium, may continue to be during the third millennium one of the highest Marian pulpits of Christianity".

  On December 10, 1994, the Pope opened the shrine centennial by presiding at a Mass in the presence of more than 200 cardinals, archbishops and bishops from different Italian dioceses in the presence of numerous faithful. The house of Nazareth, he said, "is the place where the first 'domestic church', formed by the Holy Family, gathered. ... Here in Loreto today, we wish to entrust once again to the Mother of the Redeemer the families of all peoples and nations. We commend to her especially those who are the most tried and suffering."

  Returning to the shrine in September 1995, John Paul II greeted children and their families saying: "Mary's House which has been venerated for seven centuries in the Shrine of Loreto, reminds us of the life of the Holy Family in Nazareth."

  "We can imagine the little Jesus in his daily surroundings: while he ran and played near his home or while he slept or was sitting and eating with his parents...Who knows whether there was also a school at that time in Nazareth? But perhaps this is something you would rather not think about especially in these last days of holiday. However, even for Jesus, the first real school of life was His own family: from Joseph and Mary He learned the most important things: humility, fidelity, prayer, work."

  This Sunday, September 5, the Pope will leave Castelgandolfo by helicopter and after a one-hour trip will arrive at the John Paul II Youth Center in Montorso near Loreto.  There he will travel by car to the square in Montorso. At 10 a.m. he will celebrate a Mass during which he will beatify three servants of God, members of Catholic Action: Catalan priest, Pedro Tarres y Claret, and two young lay Italians, Alberto Marvelli and Pina Suriano. He is scheduled to say a few words before praying the Angelus.

  After the beatification, the Holy Father will return by car to the John Paul II Youth Center for lunch and a rest. He is scheduled to leave Loreto for Castelgandolfo at 5 p.m.
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