POPE IMPLORES MARY´S AID FOR NEW MILLENNIUM
Prays at Roman Piazza on Feast of Immaculate Conception
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2000 (Zenit.org).-
On the feast of the Immaculate Conception, John Paul II beseeched the help of Mary for
humanity in the third millennium.
Shortly after 4 p.m., the Holy Father knelt before the statue of the Blessed Virgin in
Romes Piazza Spagna and recited a prayer that he composed especially for the
This is an event the Pope has repeated every year on Dec. 8, which is at the same time a
popular celebration for Romans. Today, when Christmas shopping begins in earnest, people
thronged the streets to greet the Pope, who was driven in a convertible.
John Paul II placed a floral wreath at the foot of the statue of the Virgin, when he
arrived. The statue was commissioned in 1856 by Pope Pius IX, in remembrance of the
promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
That doctrine affirms that "the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved, in the first
instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of God omnipotent and because
of the merits of Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race, free from all stain of
Original Sin," as stated by Pius IX in his declaration of the dogma, Dec. 8, 1854.
Surrounded by the crowd, John Paul II knelt in the piazza and recited the words of Genesis
3:15: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and
hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."
"Prophetic words of hope that resounded at the dawn of history!" Peters
successor exclaimed. "They proclaim the victory of Jesus, born of woman, over Satan,
prince of this world. ... Do these words not summarize, perhaps, the dramatic truth of all
History, he said, "in its deepest reality, is the scene of a terrible struggle
against the powers of darkness, a struggle that began at the origin of the world, and that
will last, as the Lord says, until the last day. Man, every man, is involved in this
all-out confrontation, he must combat without respite to be able to remain united to the
good, at the price of great efforts, with the help of Gods grace."
Turning toward Mary, therefore, he concluded: "We raise our eyes to you and pray that
you sustain us in our struggle against evil and our commitment to the good. Keep us under
your maternal protection, beautiful and holy Virgin! Help us go forward in the new
millennium, adorned with that humility that made you the favorite in the eyes of the Most
High. May the fruits of this Jubilee Year not be lost!"
After the ceremony, John Paul II went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, to participate in
the most typical expression of Marian devotion of the Catholic Churches of the East.
Together with Russian, Ukrainian, Rumanian, Hungarian and Byelorussian Catholics, John
Paul II sang the Akathist hymn, which Byzantine liturgy dedicates to the mystery of the
The hymn was sung in several languages, including Greek, Paleoslavic, Hungarian,
Ukrainian, Romanian and Arabic. Thus, this hymn, which goes back to the first centuries of
Christianity, enabled the Bishop of Rome to pray the hymn that united all Christians,
before the great Eastern schism at the beginning of this millennium.
The basilica, first Christian Church dedicated to Mary, was filled with incense and hymns
proper to the Russian Churches. In a brief homily, the Pope expressed the hope that Mary
"will lead us this coming Christmas to contemplate the mystery of God made man for
"MARY GUIDES OUR STEPS TO MEET THE
Pope´s Angelus Message on Feast of Immaculate Conception
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2000 (Zenit.org).-
Here is a translation of the message John Paul II delivered before todays Angelus.
1. On this day we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed
Virgin Mary, a recurrence so dear to Christian people. It is well inserted in the time of
Advent and, with a very pure light, radiantly illuminates our spiritual itinerary toward
On this day we contemplate the humble maiden of Nazareth, preserved with extraordinary and
ineffable privilege, from the contamination of original sin and from every fault, to be
able to be the worthy dwelling of the incarnate Word. In Mary, new Eve, Mother of the new
Adam, the original wondrous design of love of the Father is restored in an even more
wondrous way. Because of this, the grateful Church acclaims: "Through You, Immaculate
Virgin, we have regained life: You conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and the world
received its Savior from you" (Liturgy of the Hours, Saturday Memoria of Holy Mary,
Antiphon to Benedictus).
2. Todays liturgy recounts the evangelical narrative of the Annunciation. Replying
to the Angel, the Virgin proclaimed: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done
unto me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). Mary expresses her total assent of mind
and heart to the divine and mysterious will and prepares to accept the Son of God, first
in faith and then in her virginal womb.
"Behold me!" This, her prompt adherence to the divine will, is a model for all
of us believers, so that in great events, as well as in ordinary affairs, we entrust
ourselves entirely to the Lord.
Mary encourages us to believe in the fulfillment of the divine promises with the testimony
of her life. She calls us to a spirit of humility, the right interior attitude of the
creature toward the Creator; she exhorts us to place sure hope in Christ, who fully
accomplishes the salvific plan, even when events seem dark and are difficult to accept.
Like a shining star, Mary guides our steps to meet the Lord who is coming.
3. Dearest Brothers and Sisters! Let us turn toward the Holy and all Beautiful Immaculate
Mary, our Advocate, Mother of the "King of Peace," who crushes the head of the
serpent: Help us, men and women of the third millennium, to resist the seductions of evil;
revive faith, hope and charity in our hearts so that, faithful to our call, we will know
how to be fearless witnesses of Jesus Christ, Holy Door of eternal salvation, no matter
what the cost in terms of sacrifice.
[Translation by ZENIT]