Vatican explains ‘Tierra del Cielo’ (‘Earth of Heaven’) in consecration prayer

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An official at the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication has offered an explanation of the “Earth of Heaven” reference in some non-English translations of Pope Francis’ consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In an editorial published by Vatican News on March 25, Andrea Tornielli, the dicastery’s editorial director, described the Byzantine-Slavic origins of the title “Earth of Heaven.”

“The expression ‘Earth of Heaven’ is taken from a Byzantine-Slavic monastic hymn, and it poetically signifies the union of heaven and earth that we can contemplate in Mary assumed bodily into Heaven,” Tornielli said.

The Vatican official’s explanation came after some Catholics raised concerns about the inclusion of the phrase in the Italian and Spanish translations

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, alluded to the concerns on translation in a social media post.

“There are questions about some translations in other languages. We must ensure that all translations are accurate & honor Mary, Queen of Heaven,” he wrote on Twitter on March 24.

Tornielli also offered details about some of the other Marian titles and devotions from different parts of the world.

One line in the consecration refers to Mary as the “living fountain of hope” and asks her to “water the dryness of our hearts.” According to Tornielli, this is taken from a quotation from St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s prayer, “Virgin Mother, Daughter of your Son,” found in the last canticle (XXXIII) of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

The consecration prayer references Mary, Undoer of Knots, a Marian devotion close to Pope Francis’ heart.

It also directly quotes Our Lady of Guadalupe’s words to St. Juan Diego: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?”

Pope Francis’ text mentions Mary’s role at the wedding feast at Cana in which she interceded with Jesus and he worked his first public miracle. It also directly quotes Jesus’ words on the Cross when he entrusted his Mother to his disciple, John, saying “Behold, your Mother.”

At the beginning of the prayer, Pope Francis says that Mary never ceases “to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.”

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