.- Before the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Benedict spoke about the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria, dedicated to the Queen of All Sailors. Addressing an audience of almost 100,000 people, the Holy Father noted that tomorrow the Church celebrates the feast of the birth of Mary. He further reminded them that each grace the Lord granted to Mary, “he granted thinking of each of us, her children.”
Speaking from the elevated square in front of the Shrine at Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy, Pope Benedict turned his audience’s attention to the “Sweet Queen of the Sards,” venerated by illustrious individuals in the course of the centuries. Bl. Pius IX decreed her coronation; one hundred years ago St. Pius X proclaimed her patron of all of Sardinia; Pius XI gave the new church the title of “Minor Basilica;” fifty years ago Pius XII made himself spiritually present with a special message transmitted live by Vatican Radio; and in 1960 Bl. John XXIII sent a letter for the reopening of the Shrine to worship after its restoration.
The Holy Father said that the first pope to return to the island in 1650 years was the Servant of God Paul VI, who visited the Shrine on April 24, 1970. John Paul II prayed in front of the holy image of Our Lady on October 20, 1985. “Even I,” Pope Benedict continued, “have chosen the Shrine of Bonaria to make a pastoral visit that would ideally span all of Sardinia.”
Stating that “today we renew the care of Cagliari, of Sardinia and of each of its inhabitants to Mary,” the Holy Father invoked the intercession of Mary to watch over all, especially those most in need: children and young people, the elderly, families and the sick, so that the patrimony of the Gospel values may be transmitted intact to new generations and that Christ may reign in families, in communities and in society.
The Holy Father noted that the birth of Mary was a “fundamental stage” for the Family of Nazareth, cradle of humanity’s redemption. “With immense gratitude,” Pope Benedict continued, “we ask Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate and our Mother, to protect every earthly mother, those who, together with their husbands, raise their children in a harmonious family context, and those who, for so many reasons, find themselves facing this difficult task alone. May all of them carry out their daily service in the family, the Church, and society with dedication and fidelity. May the Virgin Mary be support, comfort, and hope for all!”
The Pope concluded by referencing the people of Haiti, who he said were “harshly tried in recent days by the passage of three hurricanes.” He said, “I pray for the victims, who unfortunately have been numerous, and for those left homeless. I am close to the whole country, and I hope that it may receive the necessary aid as soon as possible. I entrust all to the maternal protection of Our Lady of Bonaria.”