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Mary Most Holy, Mother of God, Theotokos

Solemnity - New Year's Day, 1st January
The title 'Theotokos' (Mother of God) was officially attributed to Mary at the Council of Ephesus in 431. In 1967 St Paul VI declared that this day would also be the World Day of Peace.

Pope Francis' words on this feast day in: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, Jubilee of Mercy 2016, 2015 & 2014
Papa Benedict XVI's words at the New Year in: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 & 2006
St John Paul II's words at the New Year in: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, Jubilee 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980 & 1979

3 2us by Monsignor Leo Maasburg       

"The World Day of Peace is about God who works together with us to change the state of the fallen world into the state of the redeemed world of paradise. Mother Teresa in her 80s was asked by a journalist "What have you changed in the world?" She answered "I never wanted to change the world. I only wanted to be a drop of fresh water in which God's love could be reflected into the world." .. I hope that we will be the same - to be little drops of clean water through which the love of God can, unhindered, be let through into the world. And that love of God is done by faith, by prayer, by fasting and by almsgiving. In this way our love for God and for our brothers and sisters will grow, and through that the light of God will start shining into the world."

Mary's Divine Motherhood      
Catechesis by Pope Benedict XVI
General Audience, Wednesday 2 January 2008 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear brothers and sisters,
A very ancient formula of blessing, reported in the Book of Numbers, recites: "May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be favourable to you. May the Lord turn his face towards you and grant you peace" (Nm 6, 24-26). It is with these words that the liturgy gave us to hear again yesterday, the first day of the year, that I would like to warmly greet you all, here present, and those who during these festive Christmas days have sent me attestations of affectionate spiritual closeness.

Yesterday we celebrated the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. "Mother of God", Theotokos, is the title officially attributed to Mary in the fifth century, more exactly at the Council of Ephesus in 431, but which had already been affirmed in the devotion of the Christian people from the third century, in the context of that period's heated discussions about the person of Christ. With this title, it was underlined that Christ is God and that He is really born, as a man, of Mary: thus was his unity as true God and true man preserved. In truth, although the debate seemed to relate to Mary, it essentially concerned the Son. Wanting to safeguard the full humanity of Jesus, certain Fathers suggested a more attenuated term: instead of the title of Theotokos, they proposed that of Christotokos, "Mother of Christ"; rightly however this was seen as a threat to the doctrine of the full unity of the divinity with the humanity of Christ. Thus, after long discussion, as I have said, at the Council of Ephesus in 431 it was solemnly confirmed, on the one hand, the unity of the two natures, the divine and the human, in the Person of the Son of God (cf DS, 250) and, on the other (hand), the legitimacy of the attribution to the Virgin of the title Theotokos, Mother of God (ibid, 251).

After this Council a true explosion of Marian devotion was recorded and numerous churches dedicated to the Mother of God were built. Among these the Basilica of St Mary Major here in Rome stands out. The doctrine concerning Mary, Mother of God, found further confirmation at the Council of Chalcedon (451), during which Christ was declared "true God and true man ... born for us and for our salvation of Mary, Virgin and Mother of God, in his humanity" (DS, 301). As is known, the Second Vatican Council collected together, in the eighth chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, the doctrine on Mary, reaffirming her divine motherhood. The chapter is entitled "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church".

The qualification of Mother of God, so profoundly linked to the feasts of Christmas, is therefore the fundamental title with which the community of believers honours, we could say since always, the Holy Virgin. It expresses well the mission of Mary in the history of salvation. All the other titles attributed to Our Lady find their foundation in her vocation to be the Mother of the Redeemer, the human creature elected by God to realise the plan of salvation, centered on the great mystery of the incarnation of the divine Verb. In these festive days we have stopped to contemplate in the crib the representation of the Nativity. At the centre of this scene we find the Virgin Mother who offers the Baby Jesus to the contemplation of all those who come to adore the Saviour: the shepherds, the poor people of Bethlehem, the Magi come from the East. Later, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which we celebrate on 2nd February, it will be the elderly Simeon and the prophetess Anna who will receive the little Child from the hands of his Mother and adore him. The devotion of the Christian people has always considered the birth of Jesus and the divine motherhood of Mary as two aspects of the same mystery of the incarnation of the divine Verb and so has never considered the Nativity as a thing of the past. We are "contemporaries" of the shepherds, of the Magi, of Simeon and Anna, and as we go with them we are full of joy, because God wanted to be the God with us and He has a mother, who is our mother.

From the title "Mother of God" derive then all the other titles with which the Church honours Our Lady, but this is the fundamental one. Let us think of the privilege of the Immaculate Conception, that is to say that she was exempt from sin from her conception: Mary was preserved from every stain of sin because she was to be the Mother of the Redeemer. The same applies to the title the Assumption: she who had brought forth the Saviour could not be subject to the corruption deriving from original sin. And we know that all these privileges were not granted so as to distance Mary from us but, on the contrary, to render her close; indeed, by being totally with God, this Woman is very close to us and helps us as mother and as sister. The unique and unrepeatable place that Mary has in the community of believers also derives from this her fundamental vocation of being the Mother of the Redeemer. Precisely as such, Mary is also the Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. Rightly, therefore, during the Second Vatican Council, on 21 November 1964, Paul VI solemnly attributed to Mary the title "Mother of the Church".

Precisely because she is Mother of the Church, the Virgin is also the Mother of each of us, who are members of the mystical Body of Christ. From the Cross Jesus entrusted his Mother to each of his disciples and, at the same time, entrusted each of his disciples to the love of his Mother. The Evangelist John concludes his brief and evocative account with the words: "And from that moment on, the disciple took her into his home" (Jn 19, 27). This is the translation of the Greek text "εiς tά íδια" ("èis tà ìdia"), he welcomed her into his own reality, into his own being. Thus she became part of his life and the two lives penetrated each other; and this acceptance of her (εiς tά íδια) into his own life is the testament of the Lord. At the supreme moment of the accomplishment of his messianic mission, Jesus thus leaves his own Mother, the Virgin Mary as precious inheritance to each of his disciples.

Dear brothers and sisters, in these first days of the year, we are invited to consider attentively the importance of Mary's presence in the life of the Church and in our personal existence. Let us entrust ourselves to her so that she may guide our steps in this new period of time that the Lord gives us to live, and so that she may help us to be authentic friends of her Son and thus also courageous artisans of his Kingdom in the world, a Kingdom of light and of truth. Happy New Year to you all! This is the wish that I desire to address to you present here and to your loved ones at this first general audience of 2008. May the new year, begun under the sign of the Virgin Mary, make us feel her maternal presence
more vividly so that, sustained and comforted by the Virgin's protection, we may with renewed eyes contemplate the face of her Son Jesus and walk with greater eagerness along the ways of good.

Once again, Happy New Year to you all."


"Je salue tous les pèlerins francophones. Que Marie nous fasse ressentir plus vivement sa présence maternelle; ainsi soutenus et réconfortés par elle, nous pourrons contempler avec un regard neuf le visage de son Fils Jésus et cheminer avec plus d’empressement dans la voie du bien. Bonne Année à tous!

I greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland and the United States. I especially greet the various pilgrimages of priests and seminarians, and the many student groups in our midst. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. May the New Year bring God’s richest blessings to you and your families!

Ein herzliches Willkommen zu dieser ersten Generalaudienz im neuen Jahr sage ich allen deutschsprachigen Pilgern und Besuchern. Besonders grüße ich natürlich die Alumnen und die Leitung des Priesterseminars St. Wolfgang in Regensburg und den Mainzer Domchor. Herzlichen Dank für den Gesang, wir hören uns ja dann nochmal an Dreikönig. Die Liturgie der Kirche eröffnet das Kalenderjahr mit dem biblischen Segenswort, das uns allen gilt: "Der Herr segne dich und behüte dich. Der Herr lasse sein Angesicht über dich leuchten und sei dir gnädig. Der Herr wende sein Angesicht dir zu und schenke dir Heil" (Num 6, 24-26). Allen ein gesegnetes neues Jahr!

Saludo a los peregrinos venidos España y Latinoamérica. Confiémonos a la Virgen María, para que nos conduzca a su Hijo Jesucristo y nos haga valientes constructores de su Reino en este mundo. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Witam obecnych tu Polaków. Na początku roku do każdego i każdej z was kieruję biblijne życzenie: „Niech cię Pan błogosławi i strzeże. Niech Pan rozpromieni oblicze swe nad tobą, niech cię obdarzy swą łaską. Niech zwróci ku tobie oblicze swoje i niech cię obdarzy pokojem”. Zanieście to pozdrowienie Waszym najbliższym. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

* * *

A tutti i pellegrini di lingua italiana presenti a questa prima Udienza Generale del 2008 porgo un affettuoso augurio di serenità e di bene per il nuovo anno.

Uno speciale saluto rivolgo alla Comunità dei Legionari di Cristo, che provengono da diversi Paesi, in particolare ai sacerdoti novelli e ai rappresentanti di "Regnum Christi". Carissimi, il mistero dell'Incarnazione che celebriamo in questo tempo liturgico vi illumini nel cammino della fedeltà a Cristo. Sull'esempio di Maria, sappiate custodire, meditare e seguire il Verbo che a Betlemme si è fatto carne, e diffondere con entusiasmo il suo messaggio di salvezza.

Saluto, infine, i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. A voi, cari giovani, auguro di saper considerare ogni giorno come un dono di Dio, da accogliere con riconoscenza e da vivere con rettitudine. A voi, cari malati, il nuovo anno porti consolazione nel corpo e nello spirito. E voi, cari sposi novelli, ponetevi alla scuola della Santa Famiglia di Nazareth, per imparare a realizzare un'autentica comunione di vita e d'amore."

Meditation by Pope St John Paul II on the mystery of Mary's divine motherhood
General Audience, Wednesday 7th January 2004 - also in Croatian, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. "Alma Redemptoris Mater... Alma Mother of the Redeemer...". Thus we invoke Mary in the Christmas season, with an ancient and evocative Marian antiphon, which continues with among others these words: "Tu quae genuisti natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem - to the wonder of all creation, you have brought forth your Creator".

Mary, Mother of God! This truth of faith, profoundly linked to the Christmas festivities, is particularly highlighted in the liturgy of the first day of the year, the solemnity of Mary, Most Holy Mother of God. Mary is the Mother of the Redeemer; she is the woman elected by God to realise the salvific project centred on the mystery of the incarnation of the divine Word.

2. A humble creature has generated the Creator of the world! The Christmas season renews our awareness of this mystery, presenting to us the Mother of the Son of God as participating in the culminiating events of the history of salvation. The centuries-old tradition of the Church has always considered the birth of Jesus and the divine motherhood of Mary as two aspects of the incarnation of the Word. "In fact", reiterates the Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing the Council of Ephesus, "the One whom Mary conceived as man through the work of the Holy Spirit and who truly became her Son according to the flesh, is the eternal Son of the Father, the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. The Church confesses that Mary is truly Mother of God, "Theotokos" (CCC 495).

3. All the other aspects of Our Lady's mission derive from the fact that she is "Mother of God"; aspects clearly highlighted by the titles with which the community of Christ's disciples in every part of the world honours her. First of all, those of "The Immaculate" and "Our Lady of the Assumption", since She who was to generate the Saviour certainly could not be subject to the corruption deriving from original sin.

The Virgin is moreover invoked as the Mother of the mystical Body, that is, of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, referring to the patristic tradition expressed by St Augustine, affirms that she "is truly Mother of the members of Christ... because she cooperated with her charity in the birth of the faithful of the Church, who are members of its head" (n. 963).

4. Mary's entire existence is very closely connected to that of Jesus. At Christmas, it was she who offers Jesus to humanity. On the Cross, at the supreme moment of the accomplishment of his redeeming mission, it will be Jesus who gives to every human being his own Mother as a precious inheritance of the redemption.

The words of the crucified Lord to the faithful disciple John constitute his testament. He entrusts to John his Mother and, at the same time, consigns the Apostle and every believer to Mary's love.

5. In these last days of the Christmas season, let us pause to contemplate in the crib the silent presence of the Virgin beside the Baby Jesus. The same love, the same care that she had for her divine Son, she reserves for us. Let us therefore let her guide our steps in the new year, which Providence gives us to live.

This is the wish that I express to you all at this first general audience of 2004. Sustained and comforted by her maternal protection, we will be able to contemplate the face of Christ with a renewed eyes and walk more swiftly on the paths of good.

Once again, Happy New Year to you who are present here and to your loved ones!"


"I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including the groups from Denmark and the United States of America. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you and your families I invoke the Lord’s richest blessings for a peaceful New Year.

Je vous salue cordialement, pèlerins francophones. Soutenus par la Vierge Marie, puissiez-vous contempler avec des yeux neufs le visage du Christ et avancer avec détermination sur les chemins du bien ! Bonne année à vous et à ceux qui vous sont chers!

Sehr herzlich begrüße ich die Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Maria, die Mutter Jesu, ist auch unsere Mutter. Laßt euch von ihrer Liebe leiten und betrachtet wie sie das Antlitz Christi, des Erlösers! Die göttliche Vorsehung schenkt uns ein neues Jahr. Euch allen und eueren Lieben daheim eine gesegnete Zeit!

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos y familias de lengua española. Que su materna protección guíe nuestros pasos en este nuevo Año que la Providencia nos concede, contemplando el rostro de Cristo y caminando por los caminos del bien. Feliz año a todos y muchas gracias por vuestra atención.

Pozdravljam hodočasničku skupinu iz Osijeka, a navlastito pak nastavnike osječkih osnovnih škola Frana Krste Frankopana i Franje Krežme. Dobro došli! Predragi, sjećajući se srdačnoga dočeka u vašemu gradu u lipnju prošle godine, zazivam Božji blagoslov na vas, na vaše učenike i obitelji i na sve vaše sugrađane. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Srdečne pozdravujem skupinu skautov zo Stropkova. Milí mladí priatelia, ďakujem za vaše modlitby, a ochotne udeľujem Apoštolské požehnanie vám i vašim rodinám vo vlasti. Pochválený buď Ježiš Kristus!

Srdečně zdravím poutníky z Vyšehradu-Prahy! V tomto vánočním období zaznívá v našich duších andělský zpěv: "Sláva na výsostech Bohu a na zemi pokoj lidem, v kterých on má zalíbení!" (Lk 2,14). Buďte i vy šiřiteli Kristova pokoje! K tomu Vám žehnám! Chvála Kristu!

Христос Раждається! Щиро вітаю дорогого Кардинала Мар’яна Яворського і групу українських паломників. Мої дорогі, сердечно дякую за ваш візит. Бажаючи усім вам мирного Нового Року, з любов’ю уділяю моє Благословення. Христос Раждається!

"Święta Boża Rodzicielka", to szczególny tytuł jakim określamy Matkę Bożą, Maryję. Jego treść mocniej uświadamia nam czas Bożego Narodzenia. Przypomina, że Maryja jest rzeczywiście Matką Bożego Syna. "Ten, którego poczęła jako człowieka z Ducha Świętego i który prawdziwie stał się Jej Synem według ciała [...] jest wieczystym Synem Ojca, drugą Osobą Trójcy Świętej" (KKK 495). Niech czas Bożego Narodzenia będzie dla nas okazją by raz jeszcze zatrzymać się przy żłóbku Zbawiciela i rozważyć pokorną i pełną miłości obecność przy nim Bożej Matki, czuwającej nad Dzieciątkiem Jezus. Zawierzając Jej samych siebie, prośmy, by tą samą miłością, jaką obejmuje Bożego Syna otaczała każdego z nas na drogach, którymi nas poprowadzi Boża Opatrzność w Nowym Roku. Drodzy moi Rodacy! Witam Was serdecznie i pozdrawiam w czasie tej pierwszej audiencji Nowego Roku 2004. Pozdrawiam Was tu obecnych, a także Wasze rodziny. Życzę Wam oraz wszystkim Rodakom Dobrego Nowego Roku. Niech Was wspiera Boża Rodzicielka, Maryja. Szczęść Boże!

Rivolgo un cordiale pensiero ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare , saluto voi, sacerdoti novelli dell’Istituto dei Legionari di Cristo, presenti con l’intera comunità di Roma e con le consacrate del "Regnum Christi". Vi esorto ad attingere ogni giorno dall’Eucaristia la grazia e la forza per essere docili strumenti ed infaticabili operai nella costruzione del Regno di Dio.

Saluto poi voi, cari circensi, che in queste feste natalizie avete realizzato i vostri spettacoli a Roma, e vi incoraggio a vivere sempre con gioia la vostra fede in Cristo.

Lastly, my thoughts go to the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. Dear friends, in these days that follow the feast of the Epiphany, let us continue to meditate on the manifestation of Jesus to all the peoples. The Church invites you to spread Christ's light with the witness of your life."

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on Motherhood
General Audience, Wednesday 10 January 1979 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Christmas time has come to an end. The feast of the Epiphany has passed too. But the meditations of our Wednesday meetings will still refer to the fundamental content of the truths which every year the Christmas period puts before our eyes. They appear in a particular density. It takes time to look at them with the open eyes of the spirit, which has the right and the need to meditate on the truth, to contemplate all its simplicity and depth.

During the octave of Christmas, the Church turns the gaze of our spirit towards the mystery of Maternity/Motherhood. The last day of the octave, which is also the first day of the new year, is the feast of the Maternity/Motherhood of the Mother of God. In this way "the place" of the Mother, the maternal "dimension" in the whole mystery of the birth of God is put in prominence.

2. This Mother bears the name of Mary. The Church venerates her in a particular way. The cult that it renders to her ("cultus iperduliae") surpasses the cult of all the other saints. It venerates her precisely in this way because she was the Mother; because she was elected to be the Mother of the Son of God; because to that Son, who is the Eternal Word, she gave in time "the body" in time, she gave in an historical moment "the humanity". The Church inserts this particular veneration of the Mother of God in the whole cycle of the liturgical year, during which in a discreet way but also very solemn way it is accentuated, through the feast of the Annunciation celebrated on 25th March, nine months before Christmas/the Nativity,
the moment of the human conception of the Son of God. It can be said that during all this period, from 25 March to 25 December, the Church walks with Mary who, like every mother, awaits the moment of the birth: the day of the Nativity/Christmas. And contemporaneously during this time Mary "walks" with the Church.

Her maternal waiting is inscribed in a discreet way in the life of the Church every year. Everything that happened between Nazareth, Ain-Karin and Bethlehem, is the theme of the liturgy of the life of the Church, of prayer - especially of the prayer of the rosary - and of contemplation. Today/Now a particular feast dedicated to the "Virgo paritura", the feast of "the maternal waiting of the Virgin," celebrated before on 18 December.

3. By inserting in this way into the rhythm of her liturgy the Mystery of "the maternal waiting of the Virgin", the Church meditates, against the background of the Mystery of those months which unite the moment of birth with the moment of conception, on all the spiritual dimension of the maternity/motherhood of the Mother of God.

This "spiritual"
("quoad spiritum") maternity/motherhood began together with the physical ("quoad corpus") maternity/motherhood. At the moment of the annunciation Mary had this conversation with the Announcer: "How is it possible?/How shall this be? I know no man/I do not know man" (Lk 1, 34); answer: "The Holy Spirit will descend upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the One/child to be born will be holy and called the Son of God" (Lk 1, 35). Contemporaneously with the physical motherhood ("quoad corpus") her spiritual motherhood ("quoad spiritum") began. This motherhood thus filled the nine months of waiting for the moment of the birth, like the thirty years spent between Bethlehem, Egypt and Nazareth, as well as the further years during which Jesus, after having left the house of/in Nazareth, taught the Gospel of the Kingdom, (the) years that ended with the events of Calvary and with the Cross. There the "spiritual" motherhood arrived in a certain sense at its key moment. "When Jesus seeing the/his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to the/his mother, "Behold your son" (Jn 19, 26).

Thus, in a new way, he linked/bound her, his own Mother, to man: to man, to whom he transmitted the Gospel. He linked/bound her to every man. He linked/bound her to the Church on the day of her historical birth, the day of Pentecost. From that day the whole Church has her as Mother. And all men have her as Mother. They understand the words pronounced from the top of the Cross as addressed to each of them. Mother of all men/people. Spiritual motherhood does not know limits/knows no limits. It extends in time and in space. It reaches so many human hearts. It reaches entire nations. Motherhood constitutes a favourite topic and perhaps the most frequent one of the creativity of the human spirit. It is a constitutive element of the interior/inner life of so many men. It is a keystone of human culture. Motherhood: (the/a) great, splendid, fundamental human reality, from the beginning called with its own name by the Creator. Accepted back again in the Mystery of the birth of God in time. In it, in this Mystery, enclosed. With it inseparably united.

4. In the first days of my ministry in the Roman seat/See of St Peter, I had the pleasure of meeting a man, who
from that first meeting has become particularly close to me. Allow me not to pronounce here the name of this person whose authority in the life of the Italian nation is so great, and whose words I also listened to on the last day of the year with attention united to/with gratitude. They were simple, deep and full of concern for the good of man, of the Patria/country and of the whole of humanity and of youth in particular. My excellent interlocutor will forgive me if, though not saying his name, I allow myself in some way to refer to the words which/that during that first meeting I heard from him. These words concerned the mother: his mother. After so many years of life, of experience, of political and social struggles, he remembered his mother as the one to whom together with life he also owes everything that constitutes the beginning and the backbone of the story/history of his spirit. I listened to these words with sincere emotion. I kept them in my memory and I will never forget them. They were for me like an announcement and at the same time like an appeal.

I am not speaking here of my mother, because I lost her too early; but I know that to her I owe the same things that my excellent/dear interlocutor expressed in such a simple way. For this reason I allow myself to refer to what I heard from him.

5. And I am speaking of this today so as to fulfill/carry out what I announced last week. Then I said that we must be close to every expectant mother; that we must surround with particular assistance motherhood and the great event connected with it, the conception and birth of man, which is always at the basis of human education. Education rests on trust in the one who has given/gave life. This trust can never be exposed to danger. At Christmas time the Church puts before the eyes of our spirit the Motherhood of Mary, and does so on the first day of the new year. She also does this so as to highlight the dignity of every mother, so as to define and remember/recall the significance of motherhood, not only in the life of every man, but also in the whole of human culture. Motherhood is woman's vocation. It is an eternal vocation, and it is also a contemporary vocation. "The Mother who understands everything and
with her heart embraces each of us": these are the words of a song, sung by young people in Poland, which come to my mind at this moment: the song goes on to announce that today the world in a particular way "is hungry and thirsty" for that motherhood, which "physically" and "spiritually" is the vocation of woman, as it is of Mary.

Everything needs/must be done, in order that the dignity of this splendid vocation is not broken in the inner/interior life of the new generations; in order that the authority of (the) woman-mother is not diminished in the family, social and public life, and in all our civilization; in all our contemporary legislation, in the organization of work, in publications, in the culture of everyday life, in education and in study. In every area of life.

This is a fundamental criterion.

We must do everything, in order that woman merits love and veneration. We must do everything, in order that children, the family, society see in her that dignity that Christ has seen/saw there.

Mater genetrix, spes nostra!"

A vari gruppi

"Rivolgo un cordiale saluto ai dirigenti degli enti aggregati alla “Riunione delle Opere per l’aiuto alle Chiese Orientali”, convenuti a Roma in questi giorni per organizzare e dare sempre più pratica attuazione ai piani d’intervento e di assistenza a favore delle comunità cristiane dipendenti dalla Sacra Congregazione per le Chiese Orientali. Il Papa, carissimi, sa con quale sensibilità e generosa dedizione adempite questo incarico missionario, rispettosi e garanti al tempo stesso del principio di priorità che ha l’annuncio e la diffusione del messaggio evangelico, in modo che la vostra azione, silenziosa e benefica, mentre rende omaggio a quella del missionario, ne facilita lo sviluppo e la rende strumento di promozione umana e cristiana. Accompagno con sentimenti di viva riconoscenza e con voti di serena prosperità la Benedizione Apostolica, che estendo a quanti con voi hanno merito nello svolgimento di tale nobile compito.

Un saluto speciale ai fedeli della Parrocchia romana di Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in via Tuscolana, come pure alle Volontarie del Movimento dei Focolari, riunite a Roma per il loro annuale congresso sul tema: “La presenza di Gesù nel fratello”.

A questi due gruppi particolarmente numerosi, come pure a tutti i vari gruppi che partecipano a questo incontro, esprimo di cuore il mio grazie per la visita, il mio incoraggiamento nel loro impegno di vita cristiana e i miei voti di ogni bene per l’anno da poco iniziato."

Agli ammalati

"Ma desidero riservare una speciale parola, anche se brevissima, agli infermi e a coloro che sono in ansia per le precarie condizioni di salute. Nel ringraziarvi della vostra visita, carissime sorelle e fratelli, vi esorto a guardare nella vostra sofferenza, con rinnovata fede e amore, il Crocifisso. Vi accompagni il mio augurio di ogni conforto avvalorato dalla Benedizione Apostolica, che estendo a tutti i vostri cari."

Agli sposi novelli

"Infine, non posso dimenticare gli sposi novelli, ai quali rivolgo di cuore il mio benvenuto. La liturgia che segue il tempo natalizio presenta alla nostra riflessione la vita nascosta a Nazaret dalla Santa Famiglia e, in particolar modo, la Madonna che medita in cuor suo le parole riguardanti Gesù (cf. Lc 2,19.51). Ecco, carissimi figli, il segreto per progredire nella vostra unione e nel vostro vicendevole affetto. Riandare sempre col pensiero alla grazia del sacramento, da voi stessi celebrato, che ha fatto presente Gesù nelle vostre anime con i suoi insegnamenti, e cioè con le sue parole di vita eterna. Meditando quelle parole, troverete incoraggiamento e sostegno per la vostra vita.Di cuore vi benedico."

At the close of the General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, John Paul II remembered the great architect, Pier Luigi Nervi.

"Yesterday the architect Pier Luigi Nervi died in Rome at the age of 87. It was he who planned and brought to realization this Audience Hall whose architectural lines reveal an elegance and daring, a harmony and functionality. As you know, his constructions in reinforced concrete—in which the most advanced technique is transformed into expressions of true art—have made him known throughout the whole world.

In remembering with gratitude this outstanding artist, who has contributed in a masterly fashion to the planning of dwelling places ever more worthy of man, we offer a special prayer of suffrage that God may welcome his soul into the eternal habitation of heaven."