.- Pope Benedict XVI this morning, greeted pilgrims who had traveled to Rome for this weekend’s beatification of Mothers Ascension del Corazon de Jesus Nicol Goni, and Marianne Cope, calling them “Exemplary witnesses of Christ's charity."
The Holy Father told the group, including a large contingency from the U.S., that, "these two new Blesseds help us to better understand the meaning and the value of our Christian vocation."
The Pope specifically addressed Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary "who,” he said, “following the example of their Blessed Foundress help us to experience, in our own time, the spirit of St. Dominic."
"Keep alive the experience of the closeness of God in missionary life,” Pope Benedict said, adding a saying from Mother Ascention: “how close God feels.”
He urged the sisters to “keep alive the spirit of fraternity in your communities, always ready to go where the Church most needs you, with the same pioneering spirit that took Mother Ascension to the wild lands of the Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado."
The Pope also greeted pilgrims from that apostolic vicariate and from other areas of Peru, "who saw a precious fruit of genuine evangelization come into bloom, cultivated with special care by female hands."
He likewise greeted those from Navarre, the homeland of the new Blessed, and from other parts of Spain.
Turning to Blessed Marianne Cope, the Holy Father recalled 1862, when “she entered the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse where she imbibed the particular spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi, dedicating herself wholeheartedly to spiritual and corporal works of mercy."
He explained how Mother Cope accepted an invitation from the bishop of Honolulu, Hawaii, to work among lepers, and said that "For 35 years, until her death in 1918, our new Blessed dedicated her life to the love and service of lepers on the islands of Maui and Molokai."
"Undoubtedly”, he said, “the generosity of Mother Marianne was, humanly speaking, exemplary.”
"Good intentions and selflessness alone, however, do not adequately explain her vocation. It is only the perspective of faith, which enables us to understand her witness - as a Christian and as a religious - to that sacrificial love which reaches its fullness in Jesus Christ.”
“All that she achieved was inspired by her personal love of the Lord which she in turn expressed through her love of those abandoned and rejected by society in a most wretched way,” the Pope said.