-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Pontiff's Secretary of State Launches Marian Jubilee Year
Cardinal Bertone Celebrates Solemn Mass at Marian Shrine
AVELLINO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2012 (Zenit.org) - The merits of the Virgin Mary go beyond the fact of being the Mother of the Lord. "She was available to the will of God," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone during a solemn Mass celebrated on Saturday at the Benedictine Shrine of Montevergine, in the province of Avellino.
In the sanctuary of Irpinia, the Pope's secretary of state launched a Marian Jubilee Year granted by Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the seventh centenary of the official veneration of the icon of Our Lady of Montevergine.
In addition to this anniversary, the Benedictine community also celebrated the relocation of the icon to its historic chapel. In 1960, the icon was transferred to the interior of the new basilica of the sanctuary.
The jubilee year, the cardinal said in an interview last week with Vatican Radio, "is a strong and urgent call to witness, a proclamation of the faith, an abundant sowing of the Word of God for a new evangelization in our time."
He affirmed that "the holiness and greatness of Mary is right in its role as a collaborator of God, as the dispenser of grace and mercy for every devotee that turns to Her."
Mary, he continued, "is the Queen of Heaven, who holds in her arms the Son of God, who is also her child and who inherited from her human nature, became man in her womb, and grew in age and wisdom, thanks to her maternal care."
But, the cardinal said, "for Jesus, his mother was not just that. Her merits are much greater: she was available to the will of God, and put herself to His full service."
The icon of the Virgin Mary, also known as the "Majesty of Montevergine" and ascribed to the painter Montano d'Arezzo, is distinguished, according to Cardinal Bertone, through its piercing eyes: benevolent and maternal.
"Eyes - says the prelate - that call to prayer, at the opening of the heart. They are eyes that look not at a large group, but at the single individual who prays and looks at her. Every devotee, every person who prays feels personal attention from the Madonna. "
At the end of his exhortation, the Secretary of State expressed the hope that the celebration of the jubilee year would be seen as "an invitation to renew a sincere and filial devotion to Mary, because it helps to strengthen our sometimes shaky faith and to listen to the teaching of her Son, Jesus, transmitted by the Holy Church."
The Secretary of State also recalled with emotion the late former archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, whom he called "a man who encouraged all to move forward and to not hold back." Cardinal Martini passed away last Friday. "When Pope Benedict XVI offered me the post of secretary, I was in Genoa, where he was archbishop. I confided in him and asked his advice. He encouraged me to take the job," Bertone said.
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