Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2006 (VIS) - At 8 a.m. today, Benedict XVI travelled by plane from Ankara to the Turkish city of Izmir. From there he went by car to Ephesus.

  Today a city of some 18,000 inhabitants, Ephesus is among the most famous archaeological sites on the shores of the Mediterranean. In ancient times, it was the location of the Temple of Diana, one of the seven Wonders of the World. The city was also home to one of the earliest Christian communities. St. Paul resided there for three years, and St. John the Evangelist lived and died there. In the year 431, an ecumenical council was held at Ephesus which proclaimed the divine motherhood of Mary.

  The shrine of "Meryem Ana Evi" (House of Mother Mary) 4 kilometers from Ephesus, where the Pope met with the Catholic community resident in Turkey, is a center of Marian devotion unique in the world. However, no archeological traces remain, and evidence that Mary truly lived in Ephesus with St. John the Evangelist rests on a first-century tradition and a thirteenth-century Syrian account. The shrine is frequented not only by Christians but also by Muslims who come to venerate Mary in the course of pilgrimages to the nearby Mosque of Isa Bey.

  At 11.30 a.m., Benedict XVI arrived at the shrine's convent of Capuchin Friars, spending a few moments in the chapel and the sacristy before going on to the shrine itself where, at midday, he celebrated Mass. In opening his homily, the Pope gave thanks to God "for Mary's divine motherhood," and described Ephesus as a place "dear to the Christian community," recalling the visits there by his "venerable predecessors the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II," and in particular Blessed John XXIII, papal representative to Turkey from 1935 to 1944.

  John XXIII, said the Pope in his English-language talk, "left to the Church and the world  the legacy of his Christian optimism, rooted in deep faith and constant union with God. In that same spirit, I turn to this nation and, in a special way, to the 'little flock' of Christ living in its midst, in order to offer a word of encouragement and to manifest the affection of the whole Church."

  The Pope mentioned St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, which contains the expression "Christ is our peace," the motto of his apostolic trip. "The Apostle explains," said the Pope, "how, in a truly unforeseen way, messianic peace has now come about in Christ's own person and His saving mystery. He explains it by writing, during his imprisonment, to the Christian community which lived here, in Ephesus. ... The Apostle wishes them 'grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.' Grace is the power that transforms man and the world; peace is the mature fruit of this transformation.  Christ is grace; Christ is peace."

  "The Apostle of the Gentiles says that Christ 'has made us both one'," said the Holy Father, pointing out that these words refer to the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. "Yet they can also extend, by analogy, to the relationship between the peoples and civilizations present in the world.  Christ 'came to proclaim peace,' not only between Jews and non-Jews, but between all nations, since all have their origin in the same God."

  "From this edge of the Anatolian peninsula, a natural bridge between continents, let us implore peace and reconciliation, above all for those dwelling in the Land called 'Holy' and considered as such by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike: it is the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, destined to be the home of a people that would become a blessing for all the nations. Peace for all of humanity!  May Isaiah's prophecy soon be fulfilled: 'They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.'

  "We all need this universal peace," he added, "and the Church is called to be not only the prophetic herald, but even more, the 'sign and instrument' of this peace.  Against the backdrop of universal peace, the yearning for full communion and concord between all Christians becomes even more profound and intense.

  "Present at today's celebration are Catholic faithful of various rites, and this is a reason for joyful praise of God.  These rites, when they converge in unity and common witness, are an expression of that marvelous variety which adorns the Bride of Christ."

  "Dear brothers and sisters," the Pope concluded, "in this visit I have wanted to convey my personal love and spiritual closeness, together with that of the universal Church, to the Christian community here in Turkey, a small minority which faces many challenges. ... With firm trust let us sing, together with Mary, a Magnificat of praise and thanksgiving to God who has looked with favor upon the lowliness of his servant.  Let us sing joyfully, even when we are tested by difficulties and dangers, as we have learned from the fine witness given by ... Don Andrea Santoro, whom I am pleased to recall in this celebration." Fr. Santoro, a priest from Rome, was killed in February this year while praying at his church in the Turkish city of Trabzon.

  This afternoon, the Pope is scheduled to travel from Izmir to Istanbul where he will meet the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service