Pope Benedict XVI went to pray at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes. This weekend the Pope made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, to visit the place where Our Lady visited Saint Bernadette Soubirous 150 years ago to offer prayer for the Church, the sick and to plead for peace in the world.
I go as a messenger of peace and fraternity. Your country is not unknown to me. On several occasions I have had the joy to visit it and to appreciate its generous tradition of hospitality and tolerance, as well as the solidity of its Christian faith and its lofty human and spiritual culture. After visiting Paris, your country’s capital, I will have the great joy to join the crowd of pilgrims who are going to follow the stages of the jubilee journey, after Saint Bernadette, to the Massabielle grotto.
My prayer will intensify at the feet of Our Lady for the intentions of the whole Church, in particular for the sick, the abandoned, as well as for peace in the world.
May Mary be for all of you in particular for young people, the Mother always attentive to the needs of her children, a light of hope that illuminates and guides your ways. I invite you to join me in prayer so that this trip will bring abundant fruits.
At the beginning of the candlelight procession in Lourdes the Holy Father said:
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 honor of the Lord’s 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 neighbor 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 (Mt 5,9).
I accompany you with my prayer and my blessing. May God bless you!