Following Mass in the square in front of the Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Rosary in Pompeii, Italy, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the 30,000 faithful present and invited them to pray for two special intentions: the synod of bishops and World Mission Day. The Holy Father also spoke about today’s beatification of Louis Martin Zélie Guérin, the parents of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, patroness of missions, in Lisieux, France.
In this Pauline Year, Pope Benedict recalled St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”
The Pope continued: “In this month of October, month of missions and of the Rosary, how many faithful and communities pray the Holy Rosary for missionaries and for evangelization! I am, therefore, blessed to find myself here today, in Pompeii, in the most important Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. This, in fact, gives me the opportunity to stress that the primary missionary obligation of each of us is prayer. It is, above all, prayer that prepares the way for the Gospel; it is prayer that opens hearts to the mystery of God and disposes souls to accept the Word of Salvation.”
Calling the beatifications in Lisieux “another happy coincidence,” Pope Benedict expounded, “These new Blesseds accompanied and shared, in their prayer and evangelical witness, the way of their daughter, called by the Lord and consecrated to Him without reserve behind the walls of the Carmelite monastery. It was there, hidden in the cloister, that St. Thérèse realized her vocation: ‘In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be love.’”
The Holy Father continued: “Thinking of the beatification of the Martin couple, I am urged to recall another intention so close to my heart: the family, the role of which is fundamental in raising up children in a universal spirit of openness and responsibility toward the world and its problems, as also in the formation of vocations to the missionary life."
Pope Benedict concluded by invoking the maternal protection of Our Lady of Pompeii for all families of the world, referencing the Sixth World Encounter of Families in Mexico City in January 2009.
After the Angelus, Pope Benedict had lunch with the region’s bishops and he met with some of the shrine’s benefactors.