HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN
Prairie de la RibŤre
Sunday, 15 August 2004
1. "Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou". The words which
Mary spoke to Bernadette on 25 March 1858 have a particular resonance this year,
as the Church celebrates the 150th anniversary of the solemn
definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Blessed Pius IX in the
Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus.
I have greatly wished to make this pilgrimage to Lourdes in
order to celebrate an event which continues to give glory to the Triune
God. Maryís Immaculate Conception is the sign of the gracious love of the Father, the perfect expression of the redemption accomplished by the
Son and the beginning of a life completely open to the working of the Spirit.
2. Beneath the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin I offer a
heartfelt greeting to all of you, dear brothers and sisters, as we gather before
the Grotto of Massabielle to sing the praises of her whom all generations call
blessed (cf. Lk 1:48).
In particular I greet the French pilgrims and their Bishops,
especially the President of the Episcopal Conference [name?] and Monsignor
Jacques Perrier, the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, whom I thank for his kind
words at the start of this celebration.
I also greet the Minister of the Interior, who represents the
French Government at todayís celebration, and the other civil and military
My thoughts and prayers go also to the pilgrims assembled here
from different parts of Europe and from throughout the world, and to all those
spiritually united with us by radio and television. With special affection I
greet the sick and all who have come to this holy place to seek consolation and
hope. May the Blessed Virgin enable you to sense her presence and give comfort
to your hearts!
3. "In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the
hill country..." (Lk 1:39). The words of the Gospel story have once
more brought before the eyes of our hearts the young maiden of Nazareth as she
makes her way to that "city of Judah" where her kinswoman Elizabeth
lived, in order to be of help to her.
What strikes us about Mary is above all her loving concern
for her elderly relative. Hers is a practical love, one which is not
limited to words of understanding but is deeply and personally involved in
giving help. The Blessed Virgin does not merely give her cousin something of
herself; she gives her whole self, asking nothing in return. Mary
understood perfectly that the gift she received from God is more than a
privilege; it is a duty which obliges her to serve others with the
selflessness proper to love.
4. "My soul magnifies the Lord..." (Lk 1:46).
Maryís sentiments in her meeting with Elizabeth are forcefully expressed in the
canticle of the Magnificat. Her words convey the hope-filled
expectation of the "poor of the Lord" and at the same time an awareness
that God has fulfilled his promises, for he "has remembered his
mercy" (cf. Lk 1:54).
This same awareness is the source of that joy of the
Virgin Mary which pervades the whole canticle: joy in knowing that she
has been "looked upon" by God despite her own "lowliness" (cf. Lk 1:48);
joy in the "service" she is able to offer because of the "great things"
to which the Almighty has called her (cf. Lk 1:49); joy in her
foretaste of the eschatological blessedness promised to "those of low degree"
and "the hungry" (cf. Lk 1:52-53).
The Magnificat is followed by silence: nothing
is said to us about the three months that Mary stayed with her kinswoman
Elizabeth. Yet perhaps we are told the most important thing: that goodness
works quietly, the power of love is expressed in the unassuming quietness of
5. By her words and her silence the Virgin Mary stands before us
as a model for our pilgrim way. It is not an easy way: as a result of the
fall of our first parents, humanity is marked by the wounds of sin, whose
consequences continue to be felt also among the redeemed. But evil and death will not have the last word! Mary confirms this by her whole life, for
she is a living witness of the victory of Christ, our
The faithful have understood this. That is why they throng to
this grotto in order to hear the maternal counsels of the Blessed Virgin. In her
they acknowledge "the woman clothed in the sun" (Rev 12:1), the Queen
resplendent before the throne of God (cf. Responsorial Psalm), ever
interceding on their behalf.
6. Today the Church celebrates Maryís glorious Assumption
body and soul into Heaven. The two dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and
the Assumption are closely related. Both proclaim the glory of Christ the
Redeemer and the holiness of Mary, whose human destiny is even now perfectly and
definitively realized in God.
"When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and
will take you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (Jn 14:
3). Mary is the pledge of the fulfilment of Christís promise. Her
Assumption thus becomes for us "a sign of sure hope and consolation" (cf.
Lumen Gentium, 68).
7. Dear brothers and sisters! From this grotto of Massabielle
the Blessed Virgin speaks to us too, the Christians of the third millennium. Let
us listen to her!
Listen to her, young people who seek an answer capable of
giving meaning to your lives. Here you can find that answer. It is a
demanding one, yet it is the only answer which is genuinely satisfying.
For it contains the secret of true joy and peace.
From this grotto I issue a special call to women.
Appearing here, Mary entrusted her message to a young girl, as if to
emphasize the special mission of women in our own time, tempted as it is
by materialism and secularism: to be in todayís society a witness of those
essential values which are seen only with the eyes of the heart. To you,
women, falls the task of being sentinels of the Invisible! I appeal
urgently to all of you, dear brother and sisters, to do everything in your power
to ensure that life, each and every life, will be respected from conception to
its natural end. Life is a sacred gift, and no one can presume to be its
Finally, Our Lady of Lourdes has a message for everyone. Be men and women of freedom! But remember: human freedom is a freedom
wounded by sin. It is a freedom which itself needs to be set free. Christ is
its liberator; he is the one who "for freedom has set us free" (cf.
Gal 5:1). Defend that freedom!
Dear friends, in this we know we can count on Mary, who, since
she never yielded to sin, is the only creature who is perfectly free. I entrust
you to her. Walk beside Mary as you journey towards the complete fulfilment of
INTRODUCTION OF THE HOLY FATHER
JOHN PAUL II
TO THE RECITATION OF THE ROSARY
Grotto of Massabielle, 14 August 2004
My dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Kneeling here, before the grotto of Massabielle, I feel deeply that I have
reached the goal of my pilgrimage. This cave, where Mary appeared, is the
heart of Lourdes. It reminds us of the cave of Mount Horeb where Elijah met the
Lord, who spoke to him in "a still small voice" (1 Kg 19:12).
Here the Blessed Virgin asked Bernadette to recite the Rosary, as she herself
told the beads. This grotto has thus become a unique school of prayer
where Mary teaches everyone to gaze with burning love upon the face of
Lourdes is the place, then, where the Christians of France, and those from so
many other nations of Europe and the world, fall to their knees and pray.
2. As pilgrims to Lourdes, we too wish this evening to retrace in prayer,
together with Mary our Mother, the "mysteries" in which Jesus reveals that he is
the "light of the world". We recall his promise: "He who follows me will not
walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8:12).
We wish to learn from the lowly handmaid of the Lord an attitude of
docility and openness to the word of God and a generous commitment to
welcoming Christís teaching into our lives.
In particular, as we meditate on the sharing of the Lordís Mother in her
Sonís redemptive mission, I would ask you to to pray for vocations to the
priesthood and to virginity for the Kingdom of God, so that all those who
are called will respond with generosity and perseverance.
3. As we turn to Mary Most Holy, let us pray together with Bernadette: "Good
Mother, have mercy on me; I give myself entirely to you, that you may give me to
your dear Son, whom I wish to love with my whole heart. Good Mother, grant me a
heart all aflame for Jesus".
PRAYER OF THE HOLY FATHER
AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE ROSARY
(Esplanade of the Basilica of the Rosary,
14 August 2004)
Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman,
Blessed by the Most
Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era,
We join in your song of
to celebrate the Lordís mercy,
to proclaim the coming of the
and the full liberation of humanity.
Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord,
Glorious Mother of
Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word,
Teach us to
persevere in listening to the Word,
and to be docile to the voice of the
attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience
his manifestations in the events of history.
Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows,
Mother of the living!
spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve,
Be our guide along the paths of the
Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ,
with you before the innumerable crosses
on which your Son is still
Hail Mary, woman of faith,
First of the disciples!
Mother of the Church, help us always
to account for the hope that is in
with trust in human goodness and the Fatherís love.
Teach us to build
up the world beginning from within:
in the depths of silence and
in the joy of fraternal love,
in the unique fruitfulness of the
Holy Mary, Mother of believers,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
INTRODUCTION OF THE HOLY FATHER
JOHN PAUL II
TO THE TORCHLIGHT PROCESSION
Accueil Notre-Dame, 14 August 2004
†Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. When the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in the grotto at
Massabielle, she began a dialogue between Heaven and earth which has
lasted through time and continues to this day. Speaking to the young girl, Mary
asked that people should come here in procession, as if to signify that
this dialogue cannot be limited to words, but must become a journey at her
side along the pilgrim way of faith, hope and love.
Here in Lourdes, for more than a century the Christian people
have faithfully responded to that maternal summons, walking each day behind Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and processing each night amid songs
and prayers in honour of the Lordís Mother.
This year the Pope joins you in this act of devotion and love
for the Most Holy Virgin, the glorious woman of the Book of Revelation, crowned
with twelve stars (cf. Rev 12,1). Holding in our hands the lighted
torch, we recall and profess our faith in the Risen Christ. From Him the
whole of our life receives light and hope.
2. To you, dear brothers and sisters, I entrust a particular
intention for our prayer this evening: join me in imploring the Virgin Mary to
obtain for our world the longed-for gift of peace.
May forgiveness and brotherly love take root in human hearts.
May every weapon be laid down, and all hatred and violence put aside.
May everyone see in his neighbour not an enemy to be
fought, but a brother to be accepted and loved, so that we may join in
building a better world.
3. Together let us invoke the Queen of Peace and renew our
commitment to the service of reconciliation, dialogue and solidarity. In this
way we shall merit the happiness which the Lord has promised to the peacemakers
I accompany you with my prayer and my blessing.
Prairie de la RibŤre, Sunday 15 August
1. At the conclusion of this solemn Liturgy, I wish to offer a
special greeting to those taking part in the French National Pilgrimage led by
the "Famille de líAssomption".
I greet in particular all the young people, who are so much at
home in Lourdes and have placed themselves so generously at the service of their
sick brothers and sisters as hospitaliers. I recall with fondness my
meetings with young people in France: our first meeting in Paris, then
those in Lyons, Strasbourg and once again in Paris for
World Youth Day. Dear young friends: these meetings have given me a great
hope which I wish to share with you today. Let Mary be your teacher, and you will bring a fresh breath of optimism to the world, as you proclaim
to all the "good news" of Christís Kingdom.
2. From the rock of Massabielle, the Blessed Virgin appeared to
Bernadette. Revealing herself as the one who is full of Godís grace, she called
for penance and prayer. She indicated to Bernadette a spring of water and
asked her to drink of it. That spring of fresh water has become one of the
symbols of Lourdes: a symbol of the new life which Christ gives to all who
turn to him.
Christianity is truly a fountain of life, and Mary is the first
guardian of this fountain. She points it out to all people, inviting them to
renounce their pride and to learn humility, so that they can draw from the mercy
of her Son and thus work together for the dawn of the civilization of
3. As we meditate on the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus, let
us now turn to Mary Most Holy, imploring her protection upon each of us, upon
the Church and upon the world.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
remind you that heaven is our true home and the goal of our lifeís journey. Upon
you and your families I invoke Godís abundant blessings.