At the end of today's audience, the pontiff expresses "special closeness and affection to all Catholics in China" and invites them to remain "united in the communion of the universal Church". On May 24, the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China is celebrated by Benedict XVI in 2007.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Dear faithful in China, our Heavenly Mother will help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, keeping you always united in the communion of the universal Church. I pray for you and I bless you ": these are the words that Pope Francis addressed to Chinese Catholics on the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, which will be celebrated on May 24th.
At the end of today's general audience, the pontiff recalled that "next Friday, May 24, we will celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary 'Help of Christians', particularly venerated in China at the Shrine of 'Our Lady of Sheshan', near Shanghai . This happy occasion allows me to express special closeness and affection to all Catholics in China, who, amid daily trials and tribulations, continue to believe, to hope and to love ".
It was Benedict XVI who made the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. In his Letter to the Chinese Catholics of 2007, he expressed the intention that the unity between underground and official Christians and communion with the successor of Peter be strengthened through prayer, while also asking the Lord for the strength to persevere in Christian witness, even amid suffering and persecution. The pontiff also asked that Catholics contribute to the good of Chinese society, even praying for the persecutors. For the occasion, he had also composed a special prayer.
Some groups of pilgrims from China were also present at the general audience and they were greeted by the Pope. At the end of his appeal, he invited everyone present to recite with him a Hail Mary, invoking Our Lady of Sheshan.