Gänswein observed that in the liturgical calendar this Sunday is known as "Omnis terra" after the Latin words of Psalm 65: "Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi!" ("Let all the earth worship you and praise you, o God; may it sing in praise of your name.")
He said it was important to remember, as the coronavirus claims lives across the world, that Innocent III brought the image to the sick and poor, rather than scholars and noblemen.
"For all the world is suddenly threatened by an invisible virus, all continents, all skin colors, nations and religions -- truly all the people of this earth, young and old. All the world suddenly fears disease and death together, from Tierra del Fuego to Vladivostok," he said.
He continued: "Therefore, it was for me a sacred duty as well as a great joy to come today, despite all the coronavirus obstacles, from Rome to Manoppello, where at present no pilgrims can come because of the pandemic. I had to come to bring the Holy Face, at least through the medium of the moving images of television, to as many sick and lonely people as possible."
Gänswein said that he remembered accompanying Benedict XVI to the shrine "as if it were yesterday." He said that the pope had decided, "despite some resistance," to make the trip shortly before visiting his Bavarian homeland.
In an address, Benedict described the shrine as "a place where we can meditate on the mystery of divine love, contemplating the image of the Holy Face."
Gänswein continued: "Pope Benedict ... on Sept. 1, 2006, brought the personal and 'human face of God' back to the Church and to all the world. He came all alone and not in the entourage of his advisers or the canons of St. Peter. And he came shyly and reservedly, as is his way, and only for contemplation and prayer."
The archbishop concluded: "Church history will record this forever. And for this, the civil authorities of the city of Manoppello already gave him the keys at the Vatican on Nov. 3, 2010, in the presence of Archbishop Bruno Forte."
"For this, I thank you again with all my heart, as well as all the friars of the Capuchin order and all the citizens of Manoppello, and today I thank you again especially and personally for the precious privilege of celebrating the Holy Eucharist here with you for all the sick and suffering of all the earth, under the merciful gaze of Christ: 'Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world!'"
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