12/08/2015, 00.00
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Pope: the Immaculate, the icon of divine mercy that conquered sin

During the Angelus, Pope Francis said that Mary is "the first saved" by God’s mercy. To celebrate her birthday means that we “become in turn architects of mercy” defeating “our selfishness” and making “the lives of our brothers and sisters happier” by “drying tears and giving a bit of joy”. This afternoon Francis went to the Spanish Steps to pay homage to Our Lady before moving on to Saint Mary Major. The crowd gave Pope Benedict XVI a round of applause.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - After the Mass for the Immaculate Conception, and the solemn inauguration of the Jubilee of Mercy with opening of the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis led the crowds in today’s Angelus.

The Immaculate Conception, the feast that falls today, has a deep connection with the Jubilee of Mercy. “Mary,” the pope explained, “is the first saved by the Father’s infinite mercy, as the first fruit of the salvation that God wills to give, in Christ, to every man and woman. Therefore, the Immaculate ‘Virgin’ becomes the sublime icon of Divine Mercy that conquered sin. And we, today, at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy, want to look at this icon with confident love and contemplate her in all her splendour, imitating her faith.”

Celebrating the feast of the Immaculate does not only mean "fully accepting God's mercy and grace in our lives", but also that "we become in turn architects of mercy through a genuine evangelical journey. Therefore, the feast of the Immaculate Conception becomes the feast of us all if, with our daily ‘yes’, we can overcome our selfishness and make the lives of our brothers and sisters happier, and give them hope, drying tears and giving a bit of joy.”

“In imitation of Mary, we are called to become bearers of Christ and witnesses of His love, looking first of all at those who are the privileged ones in Jesus’ eyes. They are those who He himself indicated, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me’ (Mt, 25: 35-36)".

“We should not be afraid. We should allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God, who awaits for us and forgives everything,” he said without his written test. “Nothing is sweeter than His mercy; let ourselves be caressed by God. [. . .] Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, may mercy take hold of our hearts and transform our whole life,” he said in concluding.

After the Angelus, the pontiff told the faithful that he would go to the Spanish Steps in the afternoon, to pray at the foot of the monument dedicated to the Immaculate, which stands in the square. He also said that after that he would go to Saint Mary Major Basilica to pray before the icon of Mary, Salvation of the Roman people.

"Please, join me spiritually in this pilgrimage,” he told the crowd. This is “an act of filial devotion to Mary, Mother of Mercy. To her I entrust the Church and all humanity, especially the city of Rome."

Towards the end of the greetings, he said that "today, the beginning [of the Holy Year], Pope Benedict [XVI] also crossed the Door of Mercy. Let us all send greetings to Pope Benedict." And the crowd cheered.

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