Devotion to Mary Gave Direction to Their Lives

Author: John Paul II


Pope John Paul II

Angelus, November 24, 1996

This morning I had the joy of proclaiming three new blesseds—two Austrian priests, both martyrs: Otto Neururer, parish priest, and Jakob Gapp, Marianist religious; and a French woman, Catherine Jarrige, a consecrated lay member of the Dominican Third Order. At this moment of Marian prayer, I would like to stress the strong link which united them to the holy Mother of God and gave a profound direction to their lives.

Such was the case of Fr Neururer, for whom Mary Immaculate was, so to speak, the patroness of his call to martyrdom. It was actually the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1938 when he opposed the National Socialist authorities in order to defend in a specific case the indissolubility of the marriage bond. In the light of Mary Immaculate, he was able to remain free of all compromise, and from Mary received the grace of martyrdom.

Fr Gapp, as a member of the Society of Mary, consecrated himself and his priesthood in a special way to the Virgin. She accompanied him on the path of his life and ministry, and made him an exemplary "son of Mary", according to the congregation's Rule: simple in his behaviour, simple in his speech, simple in his habits, convinced that Gospel simplicity wins the respect of men and the blessing of God.

Gospel simplicity was also the salient feature of Catherine Jarrige's character. Her humble yet shining life makes us immediately think of Mary of Nazareth, whose example inspired the new blessed's generous dedication in serving her neighbour.

Spurred by the witness of these our brothers and sisters, let us turn our gaze to Mary, Queen of All Saints, and call upon her with confidence.

Many pilgrims have come to Rome from Austria and the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, led by their Bishops, for the beatification of Fr Otto Neururer and Fr Jakob Gapp. I extend my greetings to you all. I cordially greet the students of the Bressanone seminary and the students of the Vinzentinum minor seminary, institutes which the young Otto Neururer attended. My greetings also go to the North- and South-Tirolean Marksmen, who are in Rome celebrating the close of the second centenary of devotion to the Sacred Heart.

I very cordially greet the pilgrims from France who have come for the beatification of Catherine Jarrige, led by Bishop Rene Sejourne of Saint-Flour. They can be happy and proud to have a new blessed in heaven who was born in their land. May Catinon-Menette go with you all the days of your life! I affectionately give you my Apostolic Blessing.

Next Saturday in the Vatican Basilica I will preside at the celebration of First Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent, to open the first of the three years of immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. I invite all the faithful of Rome, as well as the pilgrims visiting the city, to take part in this solemn moment of prayer, at which, in communion with the local Churches of the entire world, we will begin our spiritual journey to the Holy Door of the Year 2000, the symbol of Christ, the one Saviour of the world.

In Italy, this journey in a certain way began today, on the Sunday that opens the year of the National Eucharistic Congress. Its final celebrations will take place in Bologna in September 1997. I cordially impart a special Blessing to this spiritual journey towards the great goal of the forthcoming Holy Year.

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