Pope puts Brazil trip under Mary's protection

Vatican, May. 7, 2007 (CWNews.com) - At his Sunday public audience on May 6, Pope Benedict XVI  strongly encouraged traditional Marian devotions during the month of May, and entrusted his trip to Brazil to the Blessed Virgin's protection.

Speaking from the window of his apartment in the apostolic palace to the crowd gathered under overcast skies in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father remarked that May is "the Marian month par excellence." He endorsed the pilgrimages and processions that many Catholic communities undertake during the month, adding that the remainder of the Easter season gives the faithful an opportunity to imitate the first apostles, going out to spread the faith, strengthened by their union in prayer with the Mother of God.

"To the Holy Virgin, Mother of the Church," the Pope added, "I wish to entrust the apostolic trip I will make to Brazil from May 9 to 14." He reminded his audience that he would be opening a meeting of the Latin American bishops' conference at Brazil's most revered Marian shrine, at the basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida.

Nothing that this would be his first visit as Pontiff to Latin America, the Pope urged the faithful to support his effort with their prayers.

Nearly half of the world's Catholics live in the region, he observed, and the faithful there as a group are very young. Thus, the Pope said, Latin America is "the continent of hope" for the faith. That hope is badly needed in a world facing many different problems, he said. "That is why it is important for Christians to be formed to become a ferment of goodness and a light of sanctity in our world."

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