.- Although Mary was assumed into heaven, she "has not abandoned her mission of intercession and salvation" on Earth, explained Pope Benedict, using the words of one of his predecessors. Before the Marian prayer at noon on Assumption Sunday, he highlighted Mary's historic role in the Church, inviting continued trust in the Mother of God and prayer for her aid on earth.
The Holy Father met with pilgrims in the courtyard of the pontifical villa at Castel Gandolfo for the Angelus after having celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the nearby parish of St. Thomas of Villanova. Walking to the church for the celebration and then returning again on foot afterwards for the Angelus, he was able to greet many people personally along the way.
During the pre-Angelus catechesis, he said that on the Solemnity of the Assumption "we celebrate the passage from the earthly condition to the celestial bliss of She who generated in the flesh and received in faith the Lord of Life."
The Virgin Mary has been venerated since the Church's foundation and the first Marian feasts were observed already in the 4th century, he pointed out, highlighting that some were in recognition of her role in the history of salvation and others for major moments in her earthly life.
"The meaning of today's feast," he explained, "is contained in the conclusive words" of Venerable Pope Pius XII from his definition of the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in 1950. In the document “Munificentissiums Deus,” he asserted that "the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."
Turning to the Virgin Mary's presence in the Church, Pope Benedict said that "artists of every age" have decorated churches with works depicting the holiness of the Lord's Mother while poets, writers and musicians have rendered her tribute in liturgical hymns and chants.
"From East to West," he observed, "the 'Tuttasanta' (all holy) is invoked as the Heavenly Mother, who sustains the Son of God in her arms and under whose protection all of humanity finds refuge ..."
Illustrating this point, he recited the ancient Marian prayer from the Byzantine tradition: "Beneath your compassion we take refuge, O Virgin Theotokos: Despise not our prayer in our need, but deliver us from danger, for you alone are pure and blessed."
In Sunday's Gospel, the Pope continued, the fulfillment of salvation through Our Lady is described by St. Luke who relates the story of Mary, "in whose womb the 'little Omnipotent one' is made," who goes immediately to her cousin Elizabeth after the Angel's announcement "to bring her the Savior of the world.
"And, in fact, 'as Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.' The two women, who awaited the fulfillment of the divine promise, anticipate, then, the joy of the coming of the Kingdom of God, the joy of salvation."
Concluding, the Holy Father exhorted all people to entrust themselves to Mary, who, as Pope Paul VI said, despite being "assumed into heaven ... has not abandoned her mission of intercession and salvation.
"To Her, the guide of the Apostles, the support of the Martyrs, the light of the Saints, we turn our prayer, asking her to accompany us on this earthly life, to help us to look to Heaven and to receive us one day alongside Her Son Jesus."