Audiences 2005-2013 27100

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the eve of the Great Jubilee in anticipation of the Year 2000 the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II proclaimed St Bridget of Sweden Co-Patroness of the whole of Europe. This morning I would like to present her, her message and the reasons why — still today — this holy woman has much to teach the Church and the world.

We are well acquainted with the events of St Bridget's life because her spiritual fathers compiled her biography in order to further the process of her canonization immediately after her death in 1373. Bridget was born 70 years earlier, in 1303, in Finster, Sweden, a Northern European nation that for three centuries had welcomed the Christian faith with the same enthusiasm as that with which the Saint had received it from her parents, very devout people who belonged to noble families closely related to the reigning house.

We can distinguished two periods in this Saint's life.

The first was characterized by her happily married state. Her husband was called Ulf and he was Governor of an important district of the Kingdom of Sweden. The marriage lasted for 28 years, until Ulf's death. Eight children were born, the second of whom, Karin (Catherine), is venerated as a Saint. This is an eloquent sign of Bridget's dedication to her children's education. Moreover, King Magnus of Sweden so appreciated her pedagogical wisdom that he summoned her to Court for a time, so that she could introduce his young wife, Blanche of Namur, to Swedish culture. Bridget, who was given spiritual guidance by a learned religious who initiated her into the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very positive influence on her family which, thanks to her presence, became a true “domestic church”. Together with her husband she adopted the Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She generously practiced works of charity for the poor; she also founded a hospital. At his wife's side Ulf's character improved and he advanced in the Christian life. On their return from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which they made in 1341 with other members of the family, the couple developed a project of living in continence; but a little while later, in the tranquillity of a monastery to which he had retired, Ulf's earthly life ended. This first period of Bridget's life helps us to appreciate what today we could describe as an authentic “conjugal spirituality”: together, Christian spouses can make a journey of holiness sustained by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage. It is often the woman, as happened in the life of St Bridget and Ulf, who with her religious sensitivity, delicacy and gentleness succeeds in persuading her husband to follow a path of faith. I am thinking with gratitude of the many women who, day after day, illuminate their families with their witness of Christian life, in our time too. May the Lord's Spirit still inspire holiness in Christian spouses today, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived in accordance with the Gospel values: love, tenderness, reciprocal help, fruitfulness in begetting and in raising children, openness and solidarity to the world and participation in the life of the Church.

The second period of Bridget's life began when she was widowed. She did not consider another marriage in order to deepen her union with the Lord through prayer, penance and charitable works. Therefore Christian widows too may find in this Saint a model to follow. In fact, upon the death of her husband, after distributing her possessions to the poor — although she never became a consecrated religious — Bridget settled near the Cistercian Monastery of Alvastra. Here began the divine revelations that were to accompany her for the rest of her life. Bridget dictated them to her confessors-secretaries, who translated them from Swedish into Latin and gathered them in eight volumes entitled Revelationes (Revelations). A supplement followed these books called, precisely, Revelationes extravagantes (Supplementary revelations).

St Bridget's Revelations have a very varied content and style. At times the revelations are presented in the form of dialogues between the divine Persons, the Virgin, the Saints and even demons; they are dialogues in which Bridget also takes part. At other times, instead, a specific vision is described; and in yet others what the Virgin Mary reveals to her concerning the life and mysteries of the Son. The value of St Bridget's Revelations, sometimes the object of criticism Venerable John Paul II explained in his Letter Spes Aedificandi: “The Church, which recognized Bridget's holiness without ever pronouncing on her individual revelations, has accepted the overall authenticity of her interior experience” (n. 5). Indeed, reading these Revelations challenges us on many important topics. For example, the description of Christ's Passion, with very realistic details, frequently recurs. Bridget always had a special devotion to Christ's Passion, contemplating in it God's infinite love for human beings. She boldly places these words on the lips of the Lord who speaks to her: “O my friends, I love my sheep so tenderly that were it possible I would die many other times for each one of them that same death I suffered for the redemption of all” (Revelationes, Book I, c. 59). The sorrowful motherhood of Mary, which made her Mediatrix and Mother of Mercy, is also a subject that recurs frequently in the Revelations.

In receiving these charisms, Bridget was aware that she had been given a gift of special love on the Lord's part: “My Daughter” — we read in the First Book of Revelations — “I have chosen you for myself, love me with all your heart... more than all that exists in the world” (c. 1). Bridget, moreover, knew well and was firmly convinced that every charism is destined to build up the Church. For this very reason many of her revelations were addressed in the form of admonishments, even severe ones, to the believers of her time, including the Religious and Political Authorities, that they might live a consistent Christian life; but she always reprimanded them with an attitude of respect and of full fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and in particular to the Successor of the Apostle Peter.

In 1349 Bridget left Sweden for good and went on pilgrimage to Rome. She was not only intending to take part in the Jubilee of the Year 1350 but also wished to obtain from the Pope approval for the Rule of a Religious Order that she was intending to found, called after the Holy Saviour and made up of monks and nuns under the authority of the Abbess. This is an element we should not find surprising: in the Middle Ages monastic foundations existed with both male and female branches, but with the practice of the same monastic Rule that provided for the Abbess' direction. In fact, in the great Christian tradition the woman is accorded special dignity and — always based on the example of Mary, Queen of Apostles — a place of her own in the Church, which, without coinciding with the ordained priesthood is equally important for the spiritual growth of the Community. Furthermore, the collaboration of consecrated men and women, always with respect for their specific vocation, is of great importance in the contemporary world. In Rome, in the company of her daughter Karin, Bridget dedicated herself to a life of intense apostolate and prayer. And from Rome she went on pilgrimage to various Italian Shrines, in particular to Assisi, the homeland of St Francis for whom Bridget had always had great devotion. Finally, in 1371, her deepest desire was crowned: to travel to the Holy Land, to which she went accompanied by her spiritual children, a group that Bridget called “the friends of God”. In those years the Pontiffs lived at Avignon, a long way from Rome: Bridget addressed a heartfelt plea to them to return to the See of Peter, in the Eternal City. She died in 1373, before Pope Gregory XI returned to Rome definitively. She was buried temporarily in the Church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna in Rome but in 1374 her children, Birger and Karin, took her body back to her homeland, to the Monastery of Vadstena, the headquarters of the Religious Order St Bridget had founded. The order immediately experienced a considerable expansion. In 1391 Pope Boniface IX solemnly canonized her. Bridget's holiness, characterized by the multiplicity of her gifts and the experiences that I have wished to recall in this brief biographical and spiritual outline, makes her an eminent figure in European history. In coming from Scandinavia, St Bridget bears witness to the way Christianity had deeply permeated the life of all the peoples of this Continent. In declaring her Co-Patroness of Europe, Pope John Paul II hoped that St Bridget — who lived in the 14th century when Western Christianity had not yet been wounded by division — may intercede effectively with God to obtain the grace of full Christian unity so deeply longed for. Let us pray, dear brothers and sisters, for this same intention, which we have very much at heart, and that Europe may always be nourished by its Christian roots, invoking the powerful intercession of St Bridget of Sweden, a faithful disciple of God and Co-Patroness of Europe. Thank you for your attention.

To special groups

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today. In particular, I extend greetings to the Bridgettine Sisters here for their General Chapter. Upon all of you, I invoke God's abundant blessings.

Lastly I address the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear friends, tomorrow we shall be celebrating the Feast of the Apostles St Simon and St Jude Thaddeus. May their glorious witness support all of you in responding generously to the Lord's call.

* * *


In the past few hours a new and terrible tsunami has hit the coasts of Indonesia, also struck by a volcanic eruption, causing a great many deaths and dispersing people. I assure the relatives of the victims of my most sincere condolences on the loss of their loved ones and I assure the entire Indonesian people of my closeness and prayers.

I am also close to the beloved population of Benin, stricken with continuous floods that have left many people homeless and in precarious situations of hygiene and health. I invoke the Blessing and comfort of the Lord upon the victims and upon the entire nation.

I ask the International Community to do their utmost to provide the necessary aid and to alleviate the hardship of all those who are suffering on account of these calamities.

Paul VI Hall

Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - Marguerite d’Oingt

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With Marguerite d'Oingt, of whom I would like to speak to you today, we are introduced to Carthusian spirituality which draws its inspiration from the evangelical synthesis lived and proposed by St Bruno. We do not know the date of her birth, although some place it around 1240. Marguerite came from a powerful family of the old nobility of Lyons, the Oingt. We know that her mother was also called Marguerite, that she had two brothers — Giscard and Louis — and three sisters: Catherine, Elizabeth and Agnes. The latter followed her to the Carthusian monastery, succeeding her as Prioress.

We have no information on her childhood, but from her writings it seems that she spent it peacefully in an affectionate family environment. In fact, to express God's boundless love, she valued images linked to the family, with particular reference to the figure of the father and of the mother. In one of her meditations she prays thus: “Most gentle Lord, when I think of the special graces that you have given me through your solicitude: first of all, how you took care of me since my childhood and how you removed me from the danger of this world and called me to dedicate myself to your holy service, and how you provided everything that was necessary for me: food, drink, dress and footwear (and you did so) in such a way that I had no occasion to think of these things but of your great mercy” (Marguerite d'Oingt, Scritti Spirituali, Meditazione V, 100, Cinisello Balsamo, 1997, p. 74).

Again from her meditations we know that she entered the Carthusian monastery of Poleteins in response to the Lord's call, leaving everything behind and accepting the strict Carthusian Rule in order to belong totally to the Lord, to be with him always. She wrote: “Gentle Lord, I left my father and my mother and my siblings and all the things of this world for love of you; but this is very little, because the riches of this world are but thorns that prick; and the more one possesses the more unfortunate one is. And because of this it seems to me that I left nothing other than misery and poverty; but you know, gentle Lord, that if I possessed a gentle thousand worlds and could dispose of them as I pleased, I would abandon everything for love of you; and even if you gave me everything that you possess in Heaven and on earth, I would not consider myself satiated until I had you, because you are the life of my soul, I do not have and do not want to have a father and mother outside of you” (ibid., Meditazione II, 32, p. 59).

We also have little data on her life in the Carthusian monastery. We know that in 1288 she became its fourth Prioress, a post she held until her death, 11 February 1310. From her writings, however, we do not deduce particular stages in her spiritual itinerary. She conceived the entirety of life as a journey of purification up to full configuration with Christ. He is the book that is written, which is inscribed daily in her own heart and life, in particular his saving Passion. In the work “Speculum”, referring to herself in the third person Marguerite stresses that by the Lord's grace “she had engraved in her heart the holy life that Jesus Christ God led on earth, his good example and his good doctrine. She had placed the gentle Jesus Christ so well in her heart that it even seemed to her that he was present and that he had a closed book in his hand, to instruct her” (ibid., I, 2-3, p. 81). “In this book she found written the life that Jesus Christ led on earth, from his birth to his ascension into Heaven” (ibid., I, 12, p. 83). Every day, beginning in the morning, Marguerite dedicated herself to the study of this book. And, when she had looked at it well, she began to read the book of her own conscience, which showed the falsehoods and lies of her own life (cf. ibid., I, 6-7, p. 82); she wrote about herself to help others and to fix more deeply in her heart the grace of the presence of God, so as to make every day of her life marked by comparison with the words and actions of Jesus, with the Book of his life. And she did this so that Christ's life would be imprinted in her soul in a permanent and profound way, until she was able to see the Book internally, that is, until contemplating the mystery of God Trinity (cf. ibid., II, 14-22; III, 23-40, pp. 84-90).

Through her writings, Marguerite gives us some traces of her spirituality, enabling us to understand some features of her personality and of her gifts of governance. She was a very learned woman; she usually wrote in Latin, the language of the erudite, but she also wrote in Provençal, and this too is a rarity: thus her writings are the first of those known to be written in that language. She lived a life rich in mystical experiences described with simplicity, allowing one to intuit the ineffable mystery of God, stressing the limits of the mind to apprehend it and the inadequacy of human language to express it. Marguerite had a linear personality, simple, open, of gentle affectivity, great balance and acute discernment, able to enter into the depths of the human spirit, discerning its limits, its ambiguities, but also its aspirations, the soul's élan toward God. She showed an outstanding aptitude for governance, combining her profound mystical spiritual life with service to her sisters and to the community. Significant in this connection is a passage of a letter to her father. She wrote: “My dear father, I wish to inform you that I am very busy because of the needs of our house, so that I am unable to apply my mind to good thoughts; in fact, I have so much to do that I do not know which way to turn. We did not harvest the wheat in the seventh month of the year and our vineyards were destroyed by the storm. Moreover, our church is in such a sorry state that we are obliged to reconstruct it in part” (ibid., Lettere, III, 14, p. 127).

A Carthusian nun thus describes the figure of Marguerite: “Revealed through her work is a fascinating personality, of lively intelligence, oriented to speculation and at the same time favoured by mystical graces: in a word, a holy and wise woman who is able to express with a certain humour an affectivity altogether spiritual” (Una Monaca Certosina; Certosine, in the Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione, Rome, 1975,
Col 777). In the dynamism of mystical life, Marguerite valued the experience of natural affections, purified by grace, as a privileged means to understand more profoundly and to second divine action with greater alacrity and ardour. The reason lies in the fact that the human person is created in the image of God and is therefore called to build with God a wonderful history of love, allowing himself to be totally involved in his initiative.

The God-Trinity, the God-love who reveals himself in Christ fascinated her, and Marguerite lived a relationship of profound love for the Lord and, in contrast, sees human ingratitude to the point of betrayal, even to the paradox of the Cross. She says that the Cross of Christ is similar to the bench of travail. Jesus' pain is compared with that of a mother. She wrote: "The mother who carried me in her womb suffered greatly in giving birth to me, for a day or a night, but you, most gentle Lord, were tormented for me not only for one night or one day, but for more than 30 years!... How bitterly you suffered because of me throughout your life! And when the moment of delivery arrived, your work was so painful that your holy sweat became as drops of blood which ran down your whole body to the ground" (ibid., Meditazione I, 33, p. 59). In evoking the accounts of Jesus' Passion, Marguerite contemplated these sorrows with profound compassion. She said: “You were placed on the hard bed of the Cross, so that you could not move or turn or shake your limbs as a man usually does when suffering great pain, because you were completely stretched and pierced with the nails... and... all your muscles and veins were lacerated.... But all these pains... were still not sufficient for you, so much so that you desired that your side be pierced so cruelly by the lance that your defenceless body should be totally ploughed and torn and your precious blood spurted with such violence that it formed a long path, almost as if it were a current”. Referring to Mary, she said: “It was no wonder that the sword that lacerated your body also penetrated the heart of your glorious Mother who so wanted to support you... because your love was loftier than any other love” (ibid., Meditazione II, 36-39.42, p. 60f).

Dear friends, Marguerite d'Oingt invites us to meditate daily on the life of sorrow and love of Jesus and that of his mother, Mary. Here is our hope, the meaning of our existence. From contemplation of Christ's love for us are born the strength and joy to respond with the same love, placing our life at the service of God and of others. With Marguerite we also say: “Gentle Lord, all that you did, for love of me and of the whole human race, leads me to love you, but the remembrance of your most holy Passion gives unequalled vigour to my power of affection to love you. That is why it seems to me that... I have found what I so much desired: not to love anything other than you or in you or for love of you” (ibid., Meditazione II, 46, p. 62).

At first glance this figure of a Medieval Carthusian nun, as well as her life and her thought, seems distant from us, from our life, from our way of thinking and acting. But if we look at the essential aspect of this life we see that it also affects us and that it would also become the essential aspect of our own existence.

We have heard that Marguerite considered the Lord as a book, she fixed her gaze on the Lord, she considered him a mirror in which her own conscience also appeared. And from this mirror light entered her soul. She let into their own being the word, the life of Christ and thus she was transformed; her conscience was enlightened, she found criteria and light and was cleansed. It is precisely this that we also need: to let the words, life and light of Christ enter our conscience so that it is enlightened, understands what is true and good and what is wrong; may our conscience be enlightened and cleansed. Rubbish is not only on different streets of the world. There is also rubbish in our consciences and in our souls. Only the light of the Lord, his strength and his love, cleanses us, purifies us, showing us the right path. Therefore let us follow holy Marguerite in this gaze fixed on Jesus. Let us read the book of his life, let us allow ourselves to be enlightened and cleansed, to learn the true life. Thank you.

To special groups:

As I welcome all the English-speaking visitors this morning, I am especially pleased to greet the delegation from the Anti-Defamation League, as well as the representatives of Pittsburgh’s Jewish and Catholic communities. Upon them and upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially the pilgrim groups from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America, I invoke the Almighty’s abundant blessings of grace and peace.

Paul VI Hall

Wednesday, 10 November 2010: Apostolic Journey to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona

Greetings to the pilgrims in the Vatican Basilica

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like, with you, to think back to the Apostolic Journey to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona which I had the joy to make last Saturday and Sunday. I went there to strengthen my brethren in the faith (cf.
Lc 22,32); I did so as a witness of the Risen Christ, as a sower of the hope that does not disappoint or deceive because it stems from God's infinite love for all humanity.

My first stopover was Santiago. From the Welcome Ceremony I could feel the affection of the people of Spain for the Successor of Peter. I was truly welcomed with great enthusiasm and warmth. In this Compostelian Holy Year, I wanted to go as a pilgrim with all those who went in great numbers to that famous Shrine. I was able to visit the “House of the Apostle James the Greater”, who continues to repeat to those who come in need of grace that in Christ God came into the world to reconcile it to himself and not to blame men and women for their sins.

In the impressive Cathedral of Compostela, giving the traditional embrace to the Saint with emotion, I thought of how this gesture of welcome and friendship is also a way of expressing adherence to his word and participation in his mission. It is a strong sign of the desire to be conformed to the apostolic message. On the one hand this commits us to being faithful custodians of the Good News that the Apostles passed on, without giving in to the temptation to change it, diminish it or adapt it to suit other interests, and on the other, it transforms each one of us into tireless heralds of faith in Christ, with words and the witness of our lives in all sectors of society.

In seeing the number of pilgrims present at the solemn Holy Mass at which I had the joy of presiding in Santiago, I thought about what it is that impels so many people to leave their daily occupations to set out on the penitential journey to Compostela, a way at times long and arduous. It is the desire to reach Christ's light which they yearn for in the depths of their heart, although they are often not very good at expressing it in words.

At moments of confusion, of seeking, of difficulty, as well as the aspiration to strengthen their faith and live in a manner more consistent with it, pilgrims to Compostela embark on a profound process of conversion to Christ who took upon himself the weakness, the sin of humanity, the wretchedness of the world, taking them to where evil has no more power, where the light of goodness illuminates all things.

It is a people of silent walkers from every part of the world, who rediscover the ancient medieval and Christian tradition of the pilgrimage as they pass through small towns and cities steeped in Catholicism.

In that solemn Eucharist, experienced by so many of the faithful, present with intense participation and devotion, I asked fervently that all who go on pilgrimage to Santiago may receive the gift of becoming true witnesses of Christ, whom they have rediscovered at the crossroads of the evocative routes that lead to Compostela.

I also prayed that the pilgrims, following in the footsteps of many Saints down the ages who walked the “Way of Santiago”, may continue to keep alive its genuine religious, spiritual and penitential significance, without giving in to banality, distractions or trends. This way, a grid of routes that run across vast regions forming a network throughout the Iberian Peninsular and Europe, was and continues to be a place of encounter for men and women of the most varied provenance, united in the search for faith and truth about themselves that inspires profound experiences of sharing, brotherhood and solidarity.

It is precisely faith in Christ that gives meaning to Compostela, a spiritually extraordinary place that continues to be a reference point for contemporary Europe in its new configurations and prospects.

To preserve and reinforce openness to the transcendent and likewise fruitful dialogue between faith and reason, between politics and religion, between economy and ethics, will make it possible to build a Europe which, faithful to its indispensable Christian roots, will fully respond to its own vocation and mission in the world; therefore, certain of the immense possibilities of the European Continent and confident of its future of hope, I asked Europe to be ever more open to God, thereby encouraging the prospects of an authentic and respectful encounter in solidarity the peoples and civilizations of other continents.

Then, on Sunday, in Barcelona I had the truly great joy of presiding at the Dedication of the Church of the Sagrada Família which I declared a Minor Basilica. In contemplating the grandeur and beauty of this building that invites one to lift one's gaze and one's mind to the Highest, to God, I mentioned the great religious buildings such as the cathedrals of the Middle Ages which profoundly marked the history and the traits of Europe's principal cities. That splendid work — full of religious symbols, delicate in the interlacing of its forms, fascinating in its play of light and colour — as it were an immense sculpture in stone, the result of profound faith, of the spiritual sensitivity and artistic talent of Antoni Gaudí, derives from to the true sanctuary, the place of real worship, Heaven itself, which Christ entered to appear before God on our behalf (cf. He 9,24).

In that magnificent church the brilliant architect was able to portray marvelously the mystery of the Church, in which the faithful become incorporated by Baptism into living stones for the building of a spiritual edifice (cf. 1P 2,5). Gaudí conceived of and projected the Church of the Holy Family as a profound catechesis on Jesus Christ.

In Barcelona I also visited the “Nen Déu” Home, a charitable work started over 100 years ago, very closely connected with the Archdiocese. Here, children and young people with certain developmental challenges are cared for in a professional way and with love. Their lives are precious in God's eyes and are a constant invitation to us to emerge from our selfishness. In that home I shared in the joy and the deep and unconditional love of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, the generous work of doctors, educators and of so many other professionals and volunteers who work in this Institution with praiseworthy dedication. I also blessed the first stone of a new Residence that will be part of this same institution, where everything speaks of charity, of respect for the person and his or her dignity and of deep joy, because human beings are valuable for what they are and not only for what they do.

While I was in Barcelona, I prayed intensely for families, the vital cells and hope of society and of the Church. I also remembered those who are suffering, especially in these times of serious financial difficulty. At the same time, I kept in mind the young people — who accompanied me throughout my Visits to Santiago and Barcelona with their enthusiasm and their joy — that they might discover the beauty, value and commitment of Marriage, in which a man and a woman form a family that is generously open to life and nurtures it from its conception until its natural end. Everything done to support marriage and the family, to help the neediest people, everything that increases the greatness of the human being and his inviolable dignity contributes to perfecting society. In this regard no effort is in vain.

Dear friends, I give thanks to God for the full days I spent in Santiago de Compostela and in Barcelona. I renew my thanks to the King and Queen of Spain, to the Prince and Princess of the Asturias and to all the Authorities.

I once again address my grateful and affectionate thoughts to my esteemed Brother Archbishops of those two Particular Churches and to their collaborators, as well as to all those who generously made every effort to ensure that my Visit to those two marvellous Cities was fruitful.

These were unforgettable days, which will remain impressed upon my heart! In particular, the two Eucharistic celebrations — carefully arranged and with the intense participation of all the faithful and with hymns taken both from the Church's great musical tradition and from the genius of modern composers — were moments of real inner joy.

May God reward everyone as he alone can; may the Most Holy Mother of God and the Apostle St James continue to guide and protect them on their way. Next year, please God, I shall go to Spain once again, for the World Youth Day in Madrid. From this moment I entrust to your prayers this provident project, so that it may be an opportunity for growth in the faith for a great number of young people.

To special groups

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially those form England, Denmark, Sweden, Japan and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke Almighty God's Blessings of joy and peace.

My thoughts now turn to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds.

In yesterday's Liturgy we celebrated the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St John Lateran, “caput et mater omnium ecclesiarum”. Along with this Anniversary let us also remember the churches in which your communities are gathered and those that are still waiting to be built in Rome and in the world. Dear young people, those suffering from illness and Christian spouses, I urge you to collaborate with the whole People of God and with all people of good will to construct the Home of the Lord.

May you always be “living stones” in the spiritual edifice that is the Church, journeying on together at the service of the Gospel, in offering up prayers and in sharing charity.

Greetings to the pilgrims in the Vatican Basilica

To Italian-speaking pilgrims:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to greet you and to address my warm welcome to each one of you. In particular I greet you, the faithful from Carpineto Romano who have gathered here with your Pastor, Bishop Lorenzo Loppa, to reciprocate the brief but full Visit which I had the joy to make to your region last September, on the occasion of the bicentenary of Pope Leo xiii's birth.

Dear friends, I would like to renew my cordial thanks to you all for the warm welcome you gave me on that occasion. I am thinking of the availability of the Civil Authorities, especially of the Mayor and the Municipal Council, as well as of the prompt commitment of your Bishop, the Parish Priest and their collaborators, especially in the preparation of the Eucharistic Celebration, so well organized and in which so many took part. May the memory of that event, charged with ecclesial and spiritual significance, revive in each and every one the wish to deepen their life of faith following the path of the teachings of your illustrious fellow-citizen, Pope Leo xiii, whose courageous pastoral action inspired a provident renewal of the commitment of Catholics to society.

To Czech-speaking pilgrims

I cordially greet you pilgrims from the Czech Republic who have gathered her, so numerous, to reciprocate the Visit I had the joy to make to your country last year. Dear friends, welcome! I cherish a dear and grateful memory of my pleasant Journey in your beautiful country. I am thinking in particular of the respectful courtesy of the various Authorities; of the courteous welcome I received from my venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, from the priests, the consecrated people and all the faithful who wanted to express their faith enthusiastically, gathered round the Successor of Peter.

I was also struck by the attentive consideration given to me even by those who although they are distant from the church are nevertheless seeking authentic human spiritual values of which the Catholic community itself wishes to be a joyful witness I ask the Lord to bring to fruition the graces of that journey and I express the hope that the Christian people of the Czech Republic may continue with a fresh impetus to bear a courageous Gospel witness everywhere. I impart to you all a special Apostolic Blessing which I also extend to your families and to your entire country.

Audiences 2005-2013 27100