.- Pope Benedict XVI has written to Queen Elizabeth to congratulate her on “the happy occasion” of her Diamond Jubilee as monarch of United Kingdom.
“During the past sixty years you have offered to your subjects and to the whole world an inspiring example of dedication to duty and a commitment to maintaining the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, in keeping with a noble vision of the role of a Christian monarch,” Pope Benedict said in his letter, published on June 5.
Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 upon the death of her father King George VI. Her coronation took place the following June at Westminster Abbey in London.
To mark the 60th anniversary of her accession, a Service of Thanksgiving was held June 5 at Rome’s All Saints Anglican Church. Among the many dignitaries in attendance were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, where Queen Elizabeth is the head of state.
Pope Benedict said he retained “warm memories of the gracious welcome” given to him by Queen Elizabeth at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on the first day of his visit to U.K. in September 2010.
The publication of his letter coincided with the conclusion of four-days of Jubilee celebrations across the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth.
Most of the significant events were held in London, which included a royal flotilla on the River Thames, a celebrity gala concert in front of Buckingham Palace and a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
“The events that I have attended to mark my Diamond Jubilee have been a humbling experience,” the queen said June 6 in a televised message.
“It has touched me deeply to see so many thousands of families, neighbors and friends celebrating together in such a happy atmosphere.”
Pope Benedict concluded his message by offering a prayer for both the queen and her family, commending them “to the protection of Almighty God.”
“I renew my heartfelt good wishes on this joyful occasion and I assure you of my prayers for your continuing health and prosperity.”