Pope takes surprise pilgrimage to Marian shrine

.- Over the weekend, the Holy See reported, Pope Benedict made a surprise, personal pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of the 'Mother of Grace' at Mentorella, near Rome. This was the same site visited by John Paul II on his first pilgrimage outside the Vatican 27 years ago.

The Holy Father quietly left Rome for Mentorella Saturday morning where, according to Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, “he celebrated Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, returning to the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican in the early afternoon."

The shrine is located in the mountainous region of Tivoli, some 35 miles from Rome. According to tradition, St. Benedict himself lived in a cave near the 4,000 foot high shrine for two years.


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