Vatican City, Oct 6, 2003 / 22:00 pm
With the ancient city of Pompeii as the backdrop, Pope John Paul II reminded all Christians today of the necessity to announce the Gospel in today’s world and of their obligation to be builders and witnesses of peace.
The pope made his long-awaited pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii today after some media speculation that his ill health would prevent him. He arrived by helicopter in the early morning and addressed the crowd after reciting the Rosary for world peace.
“Today, as in the times of the ancient city of Pompeii, it is necessary to announce Christ to a society that continues to distance itself from Christian values and even lose its memory [of its Christian roots],” he emphasized in his speech. With the backdrop of the ancient Pompeii, he said, the proposal of the Rosary acquires a symbolic value of a renewed impetus in proposing the Christian faith in our times.
“The Holy Virgin has allowed me to return to this sanctuary and honor her,” said the 83-year-old pontiff. “Today’s visit crowns the Year of the Rosary. I thank the Lord for the fruits of this year, which has resulted in a significant reawakening of this simple yet profound prayer, which goes to the heart of the Christian faith and appears very adequate before the challenges of the third millennium and the urgent needs of the new evangelization.”
“What is the Rosary? It is a compendium of the Gospel. It makes us return continually to the principle scenes in the life of Christ, almost as if to make us “breathe” his mystery,” he continued. “The rosary is a privileged path of contemplation. It is the path of Mary. Who, more than Mary knows Christ and loves him?”