.- Greeting the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on this, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Pope Benedict XVI used his Angelus address to speak about the connection between the apparitions at Lourdes, human suffering, and the suffering of the crucified Christ.
The Holy Father recalled Pope John Paul II's desire that the World Day of the Sick be celebrated on February 11th, “the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette…in the grotto of Massabielle, at Lourdes.”
Pope Benedict emphasized how at Lourdes, Mary called all Christians to prayer and Penance, “echoing the words with which Jesus began his preaching in Galilee, ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk 1:15).’”
The Sanctuary of Lourdes, the Pope recalled, has become a destination for so many infirm pilgrims, “who in hearing the Most Holy Mary, are encouraged to accept their sufferings and offer them for the salvation of the world, uniting them to those of the crucified Christ.”
On this Day of the Sick, the Holy Father continued, "I would like to extend my thoughts to health workers the world over."
In a special way, he also sent his greetings to those gathered in Seoul, South Korea, where Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, is for this year’s celebration of the World Day of the Sick.
“Above all,” the Pontiff said, “I would like to make manifest my spiritual closeness and my love to our ill brothers and sisters, with particular thoughts of those who are afflicted by the most serious and painful illnesses.”
“It is necessary to continue the development of palliative care which offers an integral assistance and provides to the incurably sick that human support and spiritual company, which they greatly need,” the Pope said.
Before ending his Angelus with the traditional multilingual greetings for pilgrims, the Pope mentioned "the joy with which…he will meet with [several infirm people] after Mass today." He closed with a brief prayer entrusting all who suffer in mind or body to the protection of the Immaculate Virgin.