.- On Sunday afternoon, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of the Oak as part of his pastoral visit to area surrounding Viterbo. While at the shrine the Pope prayed before the Blessed Sacrament and read out a prayer calling upon the Virgin Mary to protect families that are at risk of being divided.
Among those present at the event were cloistered nuns from various convents in the Viterbo area. Addressing the religious the Holy Father said: "To you I entrust my intentions, the intentions of the pastor of this diocese and the needs of everyone who lives in this land. In this Year for Priests I especially entrust you with clergy, seminarians and vocations. ... Offer the Lord the sacrifice of your lives for their sanctification and for the good of souls.â
Returning to his request for his prayer in his role as a successor to St. Peter, Benedict XVI asked Mary to extend her âmaternal protection" to him and âthe Church entrusted to his care.â âQueen of peace,â he prayed, âobtain the gift of harmony and peace for peoples and for all humankind.â
The Holy Father also prayed that the Blessed Virgin would "keep our families united, which today suffer threats from all sides, and make them centers of serenity and harmony where patient dialogue dissipates difficulties and contrasts. Watch especially over those that are divided or in crisis."
Those who seek to spread the Gospel to the world were also on the Pope's mind as he prayed, "make the will of those whom the Lord of the harvest calls to be workers in His vineyard firm and decided, so that, resisting all the temptations and pitfalls of the world, they may persevere generously in following the path they have taken and, with your maternal help, be witnesses of Christ, attracted by the brilliance of His Love.â
Finally, Pope Benedict implored Mary to: "Console those who weep, who suffer for human injustice; support those who waver under the burden of fatigue and look to the future without hope; encourage those who work to build a better world in which justice many triumph and fraternity reign, in which egoism, hatred and violence may end. May every form and expression of violence be overcome by the pacifying power of Christ.â