.- “Saints, even if there are only a few of them, change the world,” Pope Benedict XVI said to a congregation of over 50,000 in the German city of Erfurt on Sept. 24.
“The saints show us that it is truly possible and good to live our relationship with God in a radical way, to put him in first place, not as one concern among others,” observed the Pope during the open-air Mass in the city’s Domplatz, the Cathedral Square.
“The saints help us to see that God first reached out to us, he revealed and continues to reveal himself to us in Jesus Christ.”
The Pope’s comments come on the third day of his state visit to his homeland. He was particularly keen to highlight the life and legacy of the saints who had established the Christian Gospel in the Erfurt area.
These included St. Severus from Italy in the fourth century, St. Killian from Ireland in the seventh century, St. Boniface from England in the eighth century and St. Elizabeth of Hungary in the 13th century. The Papal liturgy used texts specific to the Diocese of Erfurt for the veneration of St. Elizabeth.
Pope Benedict held each one of them up as a model of how a Christian should use prayer to fathom the will of Christ in their lives.
“They, as it were, reached out to him from deep within themselves in the ongoing dialogue of prayer, and in return they received from him the light that shows where true life is to be found,” said the Pope.
Each is also a reminder of the missionary nature of the Catholic faith, said the Pope, as the Church “does not stop at national borders, as we can see from the nationalities of the saints I mentioned earlier: Hungary, England, Ireland and Italy.”
“Here we see the importance of spiritual exchange, which encompasses the entire universal Church,” he said.
Until German re-unification in 1990, Erfurt lay within the communist German Democratic Republic. Prior to that, it had also endured dictatorship under the Nazis. The Pope paid tribute to the local Catholics who “had to endure first a brown and then a red dictatorship, which acted on the Christian faith like acid rain.”
Such a saintly witness, he said, invites others to “discover with us the fullness of the Good News.” And he drew a comparison between a life of holiness and the famous “Gloriosa” bell of the Cathedral of Erfurt. It is the largest free-swinging medieval bell in the world.
“It will ring out once more at the end of today’s solemn Mass,” concluded the Pope.
“May it inspire us, after the example of the saints, to ensure that witness to Christ is both seen and heard in the world in which we live.”