.- Pope Benedict XVI presided over a rare mid-week Angelus from the Apostolic Palace window on this cool, overcast day in Rome, the occasion being the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. The Pontiff called Mary the "new Eve" and urged all Catholics to entrust themselves to her protection.
Pope Benedict dedicated his pre-Angelus address to an explanation of why Mary is "Immaculate" and what that title might say to us.
He quoted from the book of Genesis and the Gospel of Luke in providing the illustration for the visitors and pilgrims at St. Peter's.
Referring to the passage from Genesis first, he recounted the words of God in Gen. 3:15 about how, after original sin, God made a promise to Satan, then in serpent form, that "the offspring" of woman would strike at his head.
And, the pope continued, "the day would come when 'a son of woman' would do this very thing.”
"So, through the offspring of the woman, God himself wins," concluded Benedict XVI.
He "has defeated once and for all the age old tempter."
For this reason, he explained, so often you see the renderings of the "Immaculate One" with the serpent underfoot.
Turning to today's Gospel, the Holy Father noted, "The evangelist, Luke, on the other hand, shows us the Virgin Mary that receives the announcement of the celestial Messenger. She appears as the humble and authentic daughter of Israel, true Zion in which God wishes to make his dwelling. She is the young descendant from which shall be born the Messiah, the just and merciful King." It was through her that God decided to rebuild his people, said the Pope.
"Differing from Adam and Eve, Mary remained obedient to the will of the Lord, with all of her being she pronounces her 'yes' and she puts herself fully at the disposal of the divine design."
"She's the new Eve, true 'mother of all the living,' of all that through their faith in Christ receive eternal life."
"What immense joy to have as a mother Immaculate Mary!" the Holy Father exclaimed to the crowd, explaining that they can ask her for help in times of need. "Each time that we experience our fragility and the suggestion of evil, we can turn to her, and our heart will receive light and comfort."
We must remember in the trying times, he continued, that "we are her children and the roots of our existence are deeply rooted in the infinite grace of God."
He then invited the faithful to entrust their lives, families and the entire world to the Immaculate Virgin, that we might find in her as the Church does a "star" to direct us to the course of Christ.
Pope Benedict plans to take his own advice and entrust himself to the Virgin Mary at the monument dedicated to her in Rome's Piazza di Spagna later this afternoon.