S. John Paul II Homil. 899


Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul

Monday 29 June 1998

1. The solemn memorial of the Apostles Peter and Paul invites us once again to make a spiritual pilgrimage to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, on the day of Christ’s resurrection. The doors “being shut ... for fear of the Jews” (
Jn 20,19), the Apostles present, already deeply troubled by the Teacher’s passion and death, were disturbed by the news of the empty tomb, which they had heard throughout the day. And suddenly, although the doors were closed, Jesus appeared: “Peace be to you!”, he said. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20,21-23).

He says this with a power that leaves no room for doubt.And the Apostles believe him because they recognize him: he is the same one they have known; the same one they had listened to; the same one who was crucified three days before on Golgotha and buried not far away. He is the same: he is alive. To assure them that it is really he, he shows them the wounds in his hands, feet and side. It is his wounds that are the chief proof of what he has just said and of the mission he is entrusting to them.

The disciples thus fully experience the identity of their Teacher and, at the same time, deeply understand the origin of the power to forgive sins, a power that belongs to God alone. Jesus once said to a paralyzed man: “Your sins are forgiven you”, and healed him as a sign of his own power, in front of the indignant Pharisees (cf. Lk Lc 5,17-26). Now he returns to the Apostles after working the greatest miracle, his resurrection, in which the power to forgive sins is inscribed in a remarkably eloquent way. Yes, it is true! Only God can forgive sins, but God has wished to do this work through his crucified and risen Son, so that every man, as he receives the forgiveness of his sins, will clearly know that in this way he is passing from death to life.

2. If we pause to reflect on the Gospel passage just proclaimed, we return to an even earlier period in Christ’s life, to meditate on a highly significant episode that occurred near Caesarea Philippi, when he asked the disciples: “Who do men say that the Son of man is? ... Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16,13-16). Simon Peter replies on behalf of them all: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16,16). This confession of faith is followed by Jesus’ well-known words which were destined to mark the future of Peter and the Church for ever: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16,17-19).

The power of the keys. The Apostle becomes the depositary of the keys to a priceless treasure: the treasure of redemption, a treasure which far transcends the temporal dimension. It is the treasure of divine life, of eternal life. After the resurrection it was definitively entrusted to Peter and the Apostles: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20,22-23). Anyone with keys has the ability and the responsibility of closing and opening. Jesus enables Peter and the Apostles to dispense the grace of the forgiveness of sins and to open definitively the gates of the kingdom of heaven. After his death and resurrection, they well understand the task entrusted to them, and with this knowledge they address the world, spurred by the love of their Teacher. They go everywhere as his ambassadors (cf. 2Co 5,14-20), since the time of the kingdom has now become their inheritance.

3. Today the Church, especially the Church in Rome, is celebrating the memorial of Sts Peter and Paul. Rome, the heart of the Catholic community throughout the world; Rome, the place chosen by Providence for the definitive witness which these two Apostles would offer to Christ.

O Roma felix! In your long history the day of their martyrdom was certainly by far the most important. On that day, through the witness of Peter and Paul who died for love of Christ, God’s plans were inscribed in your rich historical patrimony. The Church, approaching the beginning of the third millennium — tertio millennio adveniente — does not cease to proclaim these plans to all humanity.

4. On this most solemn day, the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed during the past year have gathered in Rome in accordance with a significant tradition. They have come from various parts of the world to receive the sacred pallium from the Successor of Peter as a sign of communion with him and with the universal Church.

I welcome you with great joy, venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, and I embrace you in the Lord! I express my deep gratitude to each of you for your presence, which shows in a singular way three of the essential notes of the Church: that she is one, catholic and apostolic; as for her holiness, this shines brilliantly in the witness of her “pillars”, Peter and Paul.

In celebrating the Eucharist with you, I pray in a particular way for the ecclesial communities entrusted to your pastoral care: I invoke upon them an abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that he may lead them, filled with faith, hope and love, to cross the threshold of the third Christian millennium.

901 5. The presence of my venerable Brothers of the Orthodox Church, delegates of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, is a particular joy and comfort as well. I warmly thank them for this renewed sign of homage to the memory of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and recall with deep feeling that three years ago His Holiness Bartholomew I wished to come to Rome to join me for this solemn event: at that time we had the joy of professing our faith together at the tomb of Peter and of blessing the faithful.

These are providential signs of reciprocal spiritual closeness, especially during this period of immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000: all Christians, and especially their Pastors, are invited to perform acts of charity, which, with respect for the truth, show the Gospel commitment to full unity and, at the same time, promote it according to the will of the one Lord Jesus. Faith tells us that the ecumenical journey remains firmly in God’s hands, but calls for the thoughtful co-operation of men. Today we entrust its future to the intercession of Sts Peter and Paul, who shed their blood for the Church.

6. Jerusalem and Rome, the two poles in the life of Peter and Paul. The two poles of the Church, which today’s liturgy has recalled to us: from the Upper Room in Jerusalem to the “upper room” of this Vatican Basilica. The witness of Peter and Paul began in Jerusalem and ended in Rome. This was the will of divine Providence which had previously freed them several times from the threat of death but let them finish their race in Rome (cf.
2Tm 4,7) and receive here the crown of martyrdom.

Jerusalem and Rome are also the two poles of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, to which this celebration brings us closer with the inner zeal of faith. May the witness of the holy Apostles remind the whole People of God of the true meaning of this goal, which is certainly historical, but transcends history and transforms it with the spiritual dynamism of God’s kingdom.

In this perspective, the Church makes her own the words of the Apostle to the Gentiles: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2Tm 4,18).



Thursday, 6 August 1998

The memory of my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI who died here in Castel Gandolfo some 20 years ago, lives on throughout the Church. Time has not weakened his remembrance; on the contrary, the passing of the years makes his figure appear ever brighter and his prophetic apostolic insights ever more modern and surprising. Then this year, the celebration of the centenary of the birth of this Pontiff, the wise and faithful guide of the Christian people during the Second Vatican Council and the difficult post-conciliar period, makes the memorial of his person more familiar to us, and the witness of his love to Christ and to the Church, more incisive.

He died on the day when the liturgy commemorates the extraordinary event of the Transfiguration of the Lord. In a homily, he commented on today’s Gospel passage in this way: “We must rediscover the transfigured face of Christ, in order to feel that he is still, and for our sake, our light. The light which illumines every soul who seeks and accepts it, which brightens every human scene and effort, giving them colour and emphasis, merit and a destiny, hope and happiness” (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI: 1964, 133-134).

As we begin the celebration of the Eucharist during which we offer our prayers for this unforgettable Pontiff, his words prompt us to ask the Lord, for the Church and for every member of the faithful, for that courageous and heroic fidelity to the Gospel which distinguished his ministry as Successor of Peter.


Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday 15 August 1998

902 1. “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lc 1,45).

With these words, Elizabeth welcomes Mary who has come to pay her a visit. This same beatitude resounds in heaven and on earth, from generation to generation (cf. Lk Lc 1,48), and particularly in today’s solemn celebration. Mary is blessed because she immediately believed in the Lord’s Word, because she unquestioningly accepted the Almighty’s will revealed to her by the angel at the Annunciation.

We could see in Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Ain-Karin, recounted in today’s Gospel, a prefiguration as it were of her unique spiritual journey which, beginning with her “yes” on the day of the Annunciation, is crowned by her Assumption into heaven in body and soul. A journey to God, ever illumined and sustained by faith.

The Second Vatican Council says that Mary “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the Cross” (Lumen gentium LG 58). For this reason, she so pleased the King of the universe in her incomparable beauty that now, fully associated with him in body and in soul, she is resplendent as the Queen standing at his right hand (Responsorial Psalm).

I am pleased to celebrate this solemnity, one of the most ancient in honour of Our Lady, with the community of Castel Gandolfo. I affectionately greet all of you who are present here, Bishop Dante Bernini of Albano and his Auxiliary, Bishop Paolo Gillet. I extend my thoughts to the Salesians to whom this parish is entrusted and cordially greet the inhabitants of Castel Gandolfo, the mayor and the holiday-makers.

2. In today’s solemnity, the liturgy invites us all to contemplate Mary as the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Ap 12,1). In her shines forth Christ’s victory over Satan, described in apocalyptic terms as the “great red dragon” (Ap 12,3).

This glorious and at the same time dramatic vision reminds the Church in all the ages of her destiny of light in the kingdom of heaven, and of comfort in the trials she must bear during her earthly pilgrimage. As long as this world endures, history will always be the theatre of the clash between God and Satan, between good and evil, between grace and sin, between life and death.

The events of this century, now drawing to a close, also witness with extraordinary eloquence to the depth of this struggle that marks the history of peoples, but also the hearts of every man and woman. However, the Easter proclamation which has just resounded in the Apostle Paul’s words (cf. 1Co 15,20), lays the foundation of sure hope for everyone. Mary most holy, taken up into heaven, is a luminous icon of this mystery and hope.

3. In this second year of immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I have wished to invite believers to be more attentive to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit and to “a renewed appreciation of the theological virtue of hope” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 46).

Mary, glorified in her body, appears today as the star of hope for the Church and for humanity on its way towards the third Christian millennium. Her sublime exaltation does not distance her from her people or from the world’s problems, on the contrary, it enables her to watch effectively over human affairs with that attentive concern with which she obtained the first miracle from Jesus at the wedding in Cana.

Revelation says that the woman clothed with the sun “was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery” (12:2). This calls to mind a text of the Apostle Paul which has fundamental importance for the Christian theology of hope. “We know”, we read in his Letter to the Romans, “that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved” (8:22-24).

903 As we celebrate her Assumption into heaven in body and soul, we pray to Mary to help the men and women of our time to live in this world with faith and hope, seeking God’s kingdom in all things; may she help believers to be open to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, the Creator and Renewer Spirit, who can transform hearts; may she enlighten our minds on the destiny that awaits us, the dignity of every person and the nobility of the human body.

Mary, taken up into heaven, show yourself to everyone as Mother of hope! Show yourself to everyone as Queen of the civilization of love!




(SEPTEMBER 18-20, 1998)


Saturday, 19 September 1998

1. “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lc 11,28).

Christ's words, which we have just heard in Luke's Gospel, place at the centre of our celebration the figure of Mary most holy, icon of the perfect disciple and of holy Church. Replying to the exclamation of a woman in the crowd, Jesus makes a statement that at first may seem surprising, but which, when examined more closely, reveals Our Lady's true greatness: Mary is truly blessed, not merely because she bore and raised Jesus, but because she faithfully accepted the Lord's will and put it into practice. This is Mary's authentic greatness and her blessedness: the blessedness of faith, which opens man's life to the action of the Holy Spirit and enriches it with blessed fruits for the glory of God.

Your diocesan community, the Church in Chiavari, dear brothers and sisters, is reflected today in this icon. It is reflected in Mary as its sublime model, and looks to her in the hope of hearing applied to it the words spoken that day by Jesus: “Blessed are you, Church of Chiavari, who hear the word of God and keep it!”.

So, dear friends, the Pope has come among you for this reason above all: to bring you the saving word of the Gospel and to help you in this self-reflection.

2. Dear people of Chiavari, it is a great joy to be here among you today. I affectionately greet your Bishop, Alberto Maria Careggio. I sent you a Pastor who has accompanied me on mountain trails, so that he might accompany you on the paths that lead to heaven! Help him to be a good guide for you all! With him I also embrace Bishop emeritus Daniele Ferrari, who did so much for this Diocese. I cordially greet the Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa and the entire Ligurian Episcopate. I also greet the visiting Bishops and thank them for coming.

I extend an especially warm greeting to the priests and religious, complimenting them on their generosity in performing their ecclesial service, without heeding the difficulties or hardships. I extend this greeting to the committed laity, whose valuable assistance is essential for pastoral activity in the various communities.

A respectful greeting also goes to the civil authorities, whom I thank for their presence at this celebration. My thoughts also turn to all who have joined us by radio and television. I am thinking particularly of the elderly and the sick, who are following us from their homes. To all of them, my assurance of a special prayer.

3. The Blessed Virgin is particularly loved and venerated in the community of Chiavari.Mary is patroness of the Diocese, under the title of Our Lady of the Garden. But who does not know the beautiful shrine of Montallegro, above Rapallo? There too a famous statue calls to mind the spiritual presence of the Mother of God. Well-known too is the shrine of Velva, dedicated to Our Lady of the Guard.

904 According to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, this rich heritage of popular Marian piety needs to be preserved and appreciated so that, through the Blessed Virgin, the new generations may also meet Christ, the one Mediator between God and man, and in him find salvation.

4. In practice, what can the commitment to hear and keep the word of God mean to you, the Ecclesial Community of Chiavari? It certainly means reading and meditating on it in the Bible, but it also means hearing it and putting it into practice in the way indicated by the Diocesan Synod, which concluded in 1992, 100 years after the foundation of this particular Church.

As the Successor of Peter, I invite you to grow in unity and mission awareness, following the Synod's directives. May you be increasingly united with one another and, at the same time, open yourselves to the vast horizons of evangelization: you must be concerned about all who have not yet met Christ and the Church, from your territory to the mission countries.

Always remember the word of Christ: “All men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (
Jn 13,35). In the community this means to carry, share, collaborate and feel jointly responsible for one another's burdens. Everyone is called to create this form of communion: the Bishop, priests, religious and laity; associations, movements and groups. The first place to make a community is the parish: like the tesserae of a mosaic, parishes form the diocesan community; the latter, in turn, forms part of the living body of the universal Church.

In your territory, two categories of people deserve special attention: tourists and the elderly.It is important that holiday-makers, who come in great numbers to spend time, even long periods, at the seaside, find living, welcoming communities where they can feel at ease, in a family atmosphere. On the other hand, it is important not to neglect the many local elderly, who are a priceless human and spiritual treasure.

5. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the good and fertile soil where the seed of the word of God was welcomed with faith and bore its messianic fruit, the blessings of salvation for the whole human race. The Church is reflected in this model: every diocesan community can be compared to the garden of which the prophet Isaiah speaks, in which many charisms flourish, revealing the action of grace and enriching the People of God.

I am thinking of the numerous saints and blesseds of this land: the Bishop, St Anthony Mary Gianelli, and St Caterina Fieschi Adorno; Bl. Alberto and Bl. Baldassarre of Chiavari, Bl. Agostino Roscelli and the new blessed, Brigida Morello, foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of Mary Immaculate. In addition there are some venerables and servants of God.

I am thinking of the various female and male institutes of consecrated life, and I invite young people to come to know them, because they may find in one of them the charism that answers their search for meaning and for the gift of self to God and their brethren.

I am also thinking of the associations, movements, communities and lay groups, which make an essential contribution to the Church's mission through their formation and their spiritual, charitable, social and cultural leadership. For each one of these ecclesial groups I implore the strength of the Holy Spirit and I invite them always to work in harmony with the diocesan pastoral ministry according to the Bishop's direction.

I encourage you to continue your already intense activity in the pastoral care of young people, forming those who are “near”, while at the same time seeking out those who are “far”. I hope your many initiatives, both old and new, will grow fruitfully, particularly the formation courses of Catholic Action, the interparish catechesis for the sacrament of Confirmation and — like a flourishing “plant” in the garden of the Diocese — the work of Boys' Town.

I invite you to promote in an increasingly thorough and systematic way the pastoral care of the family, which has the “Madonnina del Grappa” spirituality centre as one of its focal points. The family is the structural basis of society and it is only by working hard and effectively with families that the fabric of the ecclesial community and of civil society itself can be renewed.

905 6. Dear brothers and sisters of Chiavari, at this solemn Eucharist I entrust you all to the Mother of God and of the Church. May she always be at the centre of your community, as she was among the first disciples in Jerusalem. Through her intercession, in this second year of immediate preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, let us together ask for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this young Diocese, that it may always hear God's Word and put it into practice, that it may be ever richer in faith, hope and love in addition to its natural beauty. “As a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Is 61,10)!

Blessed are you, Church in Chiavari, if you hear the Word of God and strive to keep it (cf. Lk Lc 11,28).

May you be the garden of which the prophet Isaiah speaks: may the Lord God make justice spring up among you, which will earn you “praise before all the nations” (cf. Is Is 61,11).


At the end of Mass the Holy Father said extemporaneously:

We have celebrated the Holy Eucharist against this wonderful panorama of the Ligurian coast, a panorama which has accompanied so many centuries and so many generations of Chiavari's residents. I now hope that it will also accompany you, young people, in being courageous and faithful as were your ancestors. Carry on this beautiful tradition of your land and your country. Praised be Jesus Christ!




(SEPTEMBER 18-20, 1998)






Sunday, 20 September, 1998

1. “Peter, do you love me?” (cf Jn 21,15).

At this solemn Eucharistic celebration which closes the centenary of the birth of the Servant of God Paul VI, the Gospel was proclaimed in which Christ asks Peter if he loves him. Before entrusting him with the office of Head of the Apostolic College and the mission of being the cornerstone of the Church’s unity, Christ questions Peter about love: “Do you love me?”. He does so because the service to which he intends to call him is a loving service to God, to the Church, to humanity.

In the first reading we heard words from the book of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of God ... has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted” (Is 61,1). They call to mind the Gospel witness of Giuseppe Tovini, who today I had the joy of raising to the honours of the altar. He died the same year that Giovanni Battista Montini was born. The future Pope would testify again and again that his father and family friends told him many episodes about Tovini’s commitment to Catholicism and the initiatives promoted by him with other courageous Brescians. I am pleased that the beatification of this outstanding figure has taken place during the closing of the centenary celebration of Paul VI’s birth.

906 I affectionately greet you all, dear brothers and sisters taking part in this solemn Eucharistic assembly. I greet dear Archbishop Bruno Foresti, Cardinal Martini and all the Bishops of Lombardy and the other visiting Bishops. I extend a special greeting to Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re, born in this land and educated in the seminary of Brescia. With him I also greet Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, who for so many years was the private secretary of Pope Paul VI. I also extend my respectful greetings to the representative of the Government and all the authorities present.

With deep affection I greet you, city of Brescia, so rich in works of Christian inspiration; I greet your priests, religious and the many lay people who in their various ecclesial and civil offices have distinguished themselves by their religious, social and cultural commitment.

2. “Peter, do you love me?”. We can say that Paul VI’s life was a response to Christ’s question: a great proof of love for God, the Church and mankind. He loved God as a gracious and caring Father, and during the important moments of his life, especially those burdened with difficulties and suffering, he displayed a very strong sense of the divine fatherhood.

When, as Archbishop of Milan, he decided to hold a popular mission to instil new energy in the city’s Christian tradition, he chose as his basic theme: God is Father. Then on 6 August, 20 years ago, as he neared the end of his earthly life at Castel Gandolfo, he wanted to recite the Our Father as his last prayer.

And what can be said of his passionate love for Christ? His was an essentially Christocentric spirituality. In the homily to mark the beginning of his Pontificate, he explained that he had chosen the name of Paul because the Apostle “loved Christ supremely, because he greatly wanted and strove to bring the Gospel of Christ to all nations, because he offered his life in Christ’s name” (30 June 1963, in Insegnamenti I, [1963],
PP 24-25). On another occasion he added that it is impossible to leave Christ out of consideration, “if we want to know something certain, full, revealed about God; or rather, if we want to have a living, direct and authentic relationship with God” (General Audience, 18 December 1968; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 26 December 1968, p. 3).

3. To his love for God the Father and for Christ the Teacher, Paul VI joined an intense love for the Church, for which he spent all his physical, intellectual and spiritual energies, as the touching confession he made in Pensiero alla morte testifies: “The Church ... I could say that I have always loved her; ... and that I think I have lived for her and for nothing else” (cf. Pubblicazione dell’Istituto Paolo VI, Brescia 1988, PP 28-29).

Flowing spontaneously from this love for Christ and for the Church was his pastoral passion for man, with an acute insight into the sufferings and expectations of the contemporary age. Few have known, as he, to interpret the anxieties, desires, toils and aspirations of the men of our century. He wished to walk at their side; to do this he made himself a pilgrim on their roads, meeting them where they lived and struggled to build a world of greater attention and respect for the dignity of every human being.

He wanted to be the servant of Church which evangelized the poor, called with every person of goodwill to build that “civilization of love” in which not only the crumbs of economic and civil progress go to the poor, but where justice and solidarity should reign.

4. The roots of Pope Montini’s particular sensitivity to the great social questions of our century are sunk deep in his Brescian origins. In his own family and then during the years of his youth in Brescia, he breathed that atmosphere, that fervour of activity which made Brescian Catholicism one of the significant landmarks of the Catholic presence in the social and political life of the country. Addressing his fellow citizens at the beginning of his Pontificate, Paul VI expressed this debt of gratitude: “Brescia! The city which not only gave me birth but is such a part of the civil, spiritual and human tradition, teaching me as well the meaning of life in this world and always offering me a framework which, I think, will withstand future experiences ordained over the years by divine Providence” (cf. Address to a Pilgrimage from Milan and Brescia, 29 June 1963, in Insegnamenti I [1963], p. 647).

5. Bl. Giuseppe Tovini was certainly a great witness of the Gospel incarnated in Italy's social and economic history in the last century. He is resplendent for his strong personality, his profound lay and family spirituality, and for his generous efforts to improve society. Between Tovini and Giovanni Battista Montini there is — as a matter of fact — a close, profound spiritual and mental bond.

In fact, the Pontiff himself wrote of Tovini: “The impression he left on those I first knew and esteemed was so vivid and so real that I frequently heard comments and praise of his extraordinary personality and his many varied activities; astonished, I heard admiring expressions of his virtue and sorrowful regrets at his early death” (cf. Preface by Giovanni Battista Montini to the biography of Giuseppe Tovini by Fr Antonio Cistellini in 1953, p. I).

907 6. Fervent, honest, active in social and political life, Giuseppe Tovini proclaimed the Christian message, always in fidelity to the guidance of the Church’s Magisterium. His constant concern was to defend the faith, convinced that — as he said at a congress — “without faith our children will never be rich; with faith they will never be poor”. He lived at a sensitive time in the history of Italy and the Church, and it was clear to him that one could not respond fully to God’s call without being generously and selflessly involved in social problems.

His was a prophetic vision and he responded with apostolic daring to the needs of the times, which in the light of new forms of discrimination required of believers a more incisive leadership in temporal affairs.

Aided by the legal skills and rigorous professionalism that distinguished him, he promoted and directed many social organizations, and also held political office in Cividate Camuno and Brescia in the desire to make Christian doctrine and morality present among the people. He considered commitment to education a priority, and prominent among his many initiatives was his defence of schools and the freedom of teaching.

With humble means and great courage he laboured tirelessly to preserve for Brescian and Italian society what was most particuarly its own, that is, its religious and moral heritage.

Tovini’s honesty and integrity were rooted in his deep, vital relationship with God, which he constantly nourished with the Eucharist, meditation and devotion to the Blessed Virgin. From listening to God in daily prayer, he drew light and strength for the great social and political battles he had to wage to safeguard Christian values. The Church of St Luke, with its beautiful image of the Immaculata and where his mortal remains now rest, is a witness to his piety.

On the threshold of the third millennium, Giuseppe Tovini, whom today we contemplate in heavenly glory, spurs us on. I invite you in particular, dear lay faithful of Brescia and Italy, to look to this great social apostle, who was able to give hope to those without voice in the society of his time, so that his example will be an incentive and encouragement to everyone to work generously today and always to defend and to spread the truth and the demands of the Gospel. May he protect you from heaven and sustain you by his intercession.

Dear Brescians, you have received a great religious and civil heritage: treasure it as an incomparable patrimony, and bear active witness to it with that ingenuity and integrity, that fidelity and perseverance which distinguished Paul VI and Giuseppe Tovini.

7. “I have fought the good fight.... The Lord stood by me” (
2Tm 4,7) These words from the second reading of the Mass summarize the spiritual experience of the two figures we recall today with devout admiration. We thank God for their witness: it is a precious gift, not only for Brescia, but for Italy and for all humanity. Their memory must not fade with the passing of time. In different fields and with different responsibilities, they sowed so much good; they fought the good fight: the fight for Truth and the civilization of Love.

May Mary, Mother of the Church, help us take up their legacy and follow in their footsteps so that we too will be allowed to answer Christ like the Apostle Peter: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21,17). Amen!

S. John Paul II Homil. 899