At noon on Sunday, Pope Benedict prayed that all people might be strengthened in faith, hope and charity through the intercession of Mary. He asked, in particular, that she lead the faithful to "walk quickly and joyfully on the way of holiness."
Pope Benedict prayed the Angelus with an estimated 30,000 people present in Palermo, Sicily at the city's Foro Italico park during his pastoral visit there. Widely present among the attendees were banners bearing images of Fr. Pino Puglisi, a much-loved priest who was killed in Palermo by the mafia in 1993.
Reminded of the island's strong Marian devotion, Pope Benedict entrusted all Sicilian faithful to the Virgin Mary before the Angelus. He especially asked Our Lady to support families in love and educational commitment, to make the "seeds" of vocations fruitful among young people and to give people "courage in trials, hope in difficulties and renewed impetus to do good.
"May the Madonna comfort the sick and all the suffering," he continued praying, "and help Christian communities so that no person be marginalized or in need, but that each, especially the smallest and weakest, might feel accepted and valued."
Mary, said the Pope, "is the model of Christian life" to whom "we ask most of all to help us walk quickly and joyfully on the way of holiness, in the footsteps of so many brilliant witnesses of Christ, children of the Sicilian lands."
Remembering the concurrent celebration of the beatification of Anna Maria Adorni in Parma, Italy on Sunday, her devotion to saying the Rosary and the beginning of the Marian month of October, the Holy Father prayed that the "daily meditation of the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, the 'praying Virgin', might fortify us all in faith, hope and charity."
After the Mass, the Holy Father went to the Archbishop of Palermo's residence for lunch with all the bishops of Sicily. Following this occasion, his Sunday afternoon schedule included a meeting with priests, religious and seminarians at the cathedral and an open-air encounter with young people and families in a city square.