Vatican City, May 22, 2019 / 02:56 am America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis Wednesday asked Our Lady Help of Christians to intercede for Chinese Catholics, whom he said continue to believe and hope amid trials.
“Dear faithful in China, our Heavenly Mother will help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, keeping you always united in the communion of the universal Church,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square May 22 following his weekly Wednesday audience.
The pope expressed his closeness and affection for all Catholics in China ahead of Friday’s feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, a Marian devotion particularly venerated in Shanghai’s Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan.
Pope Benedict XVI established the custom of praying for China on the Marian feast in 2007, and composed a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan for the occasion.
This year Pope Francis’ prayer for unity with Chinese Catholics has added significance following the signing of a provisional agreement between Beijing and the Holy See in September 2018.