More than 5,000 people gathered to hear the Pope’s words prior to praying the Angelus with him at Les Combes, the resort in Italy's Valle d'Aosta region where the Pope is spending a brief holiday.
Before the Marian prayer, the Holy Father addressed a greeting to the religious and civil authorities of the region, to the inhabitants of Les Combes and to those vacationing in the area.
The Pope then remarked that today's liturgy commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and explained how the slopes of Mount Carmel, on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, are full of natural caves, once used by hermits, including the prophet Elijah "who in the ninth century before Christ undertook a strenuous defense of the purity of faith in the one true God against the contamination of idolatrous cults.”
Drawing on inspiration of Elijah and his contemplative lifestyle, he added, "the contemplative Order of Carmelites came into being, a religious family that numbers among its members such great saints as Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Theresa of the Child Jesus, and Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). The Carmelites encouraged devotion to the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel among Christian people, indicating in her a model of prayer, contemplation, and devotion to God.”
"Indeed, Mary believed and experienced, before anyone else and insuperably, that Jesus, the Word incarnate, is the Summit, the pinnacle of man's meeting with God. Fully accepting His Word, she 'arrived happily at the holy mountain' and lives forever in soul and body with the Lord.
"To the Queen of Mount Carmel, I wish today to entrust all communities of contemplative life throughout the world, especially those of the Carmelite Order. ... May Mary help each Christian to encounter God in the silence of prayer."
.- Speaking from the same Italian Alpine chalet where Pope John Paul II often stayed, Pope Benedict XVI recalled on Sunday the Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel and the devotion’s roots in the life of the prophet Elijah.