Vatican City (AsiaNews) - On the day when the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI asked pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus to entrust to the Virgin Immaculate each of us, our families and communities, all of the Church and the whole world". The pope also recalled that he will entrust himself and the world to Mary in the afternoon, when as is tradition, he will travel across Rome to honour the statue of the Immaculate Virgin raised on a column that stands at the Spanish Steps.
This feast has been celebrated for many centuries in the liturgy, but the dogma was only proclaimed in 1854 by Pius IX. Before the Marian prayer, the pope explained the value and the "immense joy to have Mary Immaculate as our Mother”. "Every time we experience our fragility and the suggestion of evil - he said - we can turn to Her, and our heart receives light and comfort. Even in the trials of life in the storms that shake our faith and hope, we think that we are Her children and that the roots of our existence lie in the infinite grace of God. The Church, even when exposed to the negative influences of the world, always finds in Her the guiding star to follow the path indicated to Her by Christ. Mary is indeed the Mother of the Church, as solemnly proclaimed by Pope Paul VI and Vatican Council II”.
Benedict XVI also referred to the readings of today's liturgy (Genesis 3,9-15.20 and Luke 1:26-38). Referring to the book of Genesis, he said: "After the Fall, God speaks to the serpent, representing Satan, curses him and adds a promise: ‘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 '(Genesis 3:15). It is the announcement of future victory: Satan at the dawn of creation seems to have the best, but it will be the son of a woman who will crush his head. Thus, through the seed of the woman, God will win. That woman is the Virgin Mary, of whom Jesus Christ was born, who, with his sacrifice, defeated once and for all the ancient tempter. Therefore, in many paintings or statues of the Immaculate Conception, she is represented in the act of crushing a serpent under foot. "
"The Evangelist Luke - he added - shows the Virgin Mary receiving the proclamation of the heavenly messenger (cf. Lk 1:26-38). She appears as a humble and true daughter of Israel, the true Zion where God wants to make his home. She is 'the sapling from which the Messiah, the just and merciful King is to be born. In the simplicity of the house of Nazareth, lives the pure ‘remnants’ of Israel, from which God wants to revive his people, as a new tree that will spread its branches throughout the world, giving all men the good fruit of salvation. Unlike Adam and Eve, Mary remains obedient to the will of the Lord with all of herself she pronounces her 'yes' and she places herself fully at the disposition of the divine plan. She is 'the new Eve, the true' mother of all living things', that is of those who by faith in Christ will receive eternal life. "
After the Marian prayer, in the greetings in different languages, Benedict XVI greeted in particular members of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate, led by Cardinal Andrea Maria Deskur. He also had a "special thought" for Italian Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action) "which today, in many parishes, renews its commitment to the Church." He added: "I encourage educators in particular of the Catholic Action Youth movement, present here in the square at the end of their annual conference, to be generous and tireless in raising their children to faith and witness."