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Thursday, June 24, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today visited the Don Orione Centre located in Rome's Monte Mario district to bless a statue of the Virgin "Salus populi romani". The statue, which looks out over the city, has recently been restored and replaced on its tower.

  The great statue of Our Lady, nine metres high and made of gilded copper, fell from its nineteen-metre-high pedestal in a storm on 12 October last year. The fall of the statue elicited a great swell of affection and devotion on the part of the authorities and people of the capital, who requested to see it back in place as soon as possible.

  Benedict XVI himself, in a message sent to the superior general of the Orionine Fathers, expressed the hope "that the statue be replaced as soon as possible for the devotion of all Romans".

  The Pope arrived at the Don Orione Centre at 10.30 a.m. where he was greeted by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome, by other bishops present and by Mayor Gianni Alemanno. He then pronounced a brief address.

  "This statue", he said, "stands to remind us of dramatic and providential events written in the history and conscience of the city. It was, in fact, raised on Monte Mario in 1953 to fulfil a popular vow pronounced during World War II when hostility and arms made people fear for the fate of the city of Rome.

  "The 'Work' of Don Orione in Rome", he added, "launched an initiative to collect signatures for a vow to the Blessed Virgin, and more than one million citizens participated. Venerable Pius XII then adopted the devout initiative of the people who wished to entrust themselves to Mary and the vow was pronounced on 4 June 1944 before the image of Our Lady of Divine Love. On that very day Rome was peacefully liberated".

  "In their vow to the Virgin, apart from promising prayer and devotion, Romans also undertook to perform works of charity", said the Holy Father, going on to recall Don Orione's motto: "Only charity will save the world".

  Don Orione, founder of the Little Work of Divine Providence, "coherently and passionately lived the Church's duty to put love into practice, to bring the light of God into the world. He left this mission to his disciples as a spiritual and apostolic path, in the conviction that 'charity opens people's eyes to faith and warms their hearts with love for God", the Holy Father said.

  "Dear Sons of Divine Providence", he concluded, "continue along this charismatic journey which Don Orione began because, as he said, 'charity is the best apologist for the Catholic faith', and 'charity impels, charity moves, it brings people to faith and to hope'. Works of charity, both as individual acts and as services to the disadvantaged provided by large institutions, can never be reduced to a mere philanthropic gesture, but must remain a tangible expression of the providential love of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Following his visit to the Don Orione Centre in Rome's Monte Mario district, the Holy Father moved on to the nearby Dominican convent of Santa Maria del Rosario in Monte Mario where he presided at the celebration of the Middle Hour (hora media) with the cloistered nuns.

  The convent houses the seventh-century icon of the Virgin "Hagiosoritissa", known as Our Lady of St. Luke, as well as precious relics of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena and other Dominican saints.

  "You, who are well aware of the effectiveness of prayer", he told the nuns in his address, "daily experience how many graces of sanctification it can obtain for the Church".

  Benedict XVI encouraged the religious "to be grateful to Divine Providence for the sublime and gratuitous gift of the monastic vocation, to which the Lord called you without any merit on your part".

  "The contemplative life which, from the hands of St. Dominic, you received in the form of the cloister, makes you living and vital members in the heart of the Lord's mystical body which is the Church. And just as the heart causes the blood to circulate and keeps the entire body alive, so your hidden lives with Christ, imbued with work and prayer, contribute to maintaining the Church, the instrument of salvation for all mankind whom the Lord redeemed with His Blood".

  Through prayer, the Pope went on, you present "the Almighty with the spiritual and material needs of so many of our brothers and sisters in difficulty, the lost lives of those who have abandoned the Lord. How can we not be moved by compassion for those who seem to drift without a goal? How can we not desire that their lives may encounter Jesus, Who alone gives meaning to existence?"

  "Ensure then", he continued his remarks to the nuns, "that in everything you do, beyond the time you dedicate to prayer, your hearts continue to be guided by the desire to love God. ... This is the horizon of the earthy pilgrimage. This is your goal. You have chosen to live in obscurity and to renounce earthly goods in order to desire above all other things the good that has no equal, the precious pearl for which it is worth abandoning all else".

  The Holy Father concluded by inviting the religious "to pronounce your 'yes' to the designs of God every day, with the same humility as that with which the Blessed Virgin pronounced her 'yes'".

  Following the visit, the Pope returned to the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father yesterday appointed Msgr. Antonio Braz Benevente, vicar general of the archdiocese of Uberaba, Brazil, as bishop of Jacarezinho (area 13,369, population 455,000, Catholics 395,200, priests 87, religious 66), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Itapolis, Brazil in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1985. He succeeds Bishop Fernando Jose Penteado, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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