Roma (AsiaNews) As is tradition on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, John Paul II went to the Spanish Steps in Rome, at 5:00 p.m. today, to place a basket of roses as an offering at the foot of the statue of the Holy Virgin dominating the entire plaza from atop a column.
In the frigid cold, after choral hymns were sung and prayers said by the thousands of faithful and pilgrims present in the plaza, the pope offered a prayer of supplication to Mary so that she may listen to "the screams of victims of war and of so many forms of violence causing bloodshed in our world." The prayer-public discourse was intervened by the timely invocation of "Queen of Peace, pray for us!"
Peace has been an eternal matter of concern to the pope. In recent months, he asked other religions to work together for peace and to defeat terrorism. He has begged the international community not to forget the African continent, which is ever more lost in a whirl of war and violence. Has asked Israelis, Palestinians, Europe and the United States to find an equitable solution for the Holy Land. Turning to the Madonna, the pope said: "In these times marked by great uncertainty and fear of the our planet's present fortunes and future destiny, grant men and women of the Third Millennium the precious gift of peace peace in their hearts and families, in their communities and among nations. Grant peace, above all, to those nations where battles and deaths continue." He finished with the wish that "all human beings, of all races and cultures, find and accept Jesus who came on earth to give us peace."
There to welcome a red-cloaked pope were civil, military and religious officials.
Below is a translation of the complete prayer offered up by the Holy Father:
"Queen of Peace, pray for us!
On the feast of your Immaculate Conception, I turn to you, oh Mary, at the foot of this column which, from the Spanish Steps, allows you to oversee this whole ancient and dear city of Rome. I come here this evening to pay you respect and show my sincere devotion. It is a gesture which so many citizens of Rome join here now together with me to show their affection, the same affection which has accompanied me throughout all my years in service at St. Peter's Holy See. I am here with them to begin the journey toward the 150th anniversary of the dogma we celebrate today with filial joy.
We turn our glance toward you with greater trepidation. To you we turn with more insistent faith in these times marked by great uncertainty and fear for our present fortunes and future destiny of our planet. Faithful and sorrowful together we offer to you the first of humanity redeemed by Christ and finally liberated from the slavery of evil and sin this prayer of supplication:
May you hear the screams of victims of war and of so many forms of violence causing bloodshed in our world. Lift the dark veil of sadness, solitude, hate and revenge enveloping us. Open all our hearts and minds to faith and forgiveness.
Queen of Peace, pray for us!
Mother of Mercy and of Hope grant men and women of the Third Millennium the precious gift of peace peace in their hearts and families, in their communities and among nations. Grant peace, above all, to those nations where battles and deaths continue today. Allow all human beings, of all races and cultures, to find and accept Jesus who came on earth in the mystery of His birth to give us peace.
Mary, Queen of Peace, grant us Christ's true peace in the world!"