S. John Paul II Homil. 869


Sunday, 17 May 1998

1. “The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14,26).

During the Last Supper, before undergoing the dramatic events of his passion and death on the Cross, Jesus promises the gift of the Spirit to the Apostles. The Holy Spirit will have the task of “teaching” and “bring to remembrance” his words to the community of the disciples. At the moment he is about to return to the Father, the incarnate Word foretells the coming of the Spirit, who will help the disciples to understand the Gospel thoroughly, to interiorize it in their lives and to make it living and active by their personal witness.

Since then, believers have continued to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Through his action, they understand the revealed truths with ever greater comprehension. This is what the Second Vatican Council stresses regarding the living tradition of the Church, which “with the help of the Holy Spirit ... is always advancing towards the plenitude of divine truth, until eventually the words of God are fulfilled in her” (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum DV 8).

2. “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Ac 15,28).

From the very beginning, the apostolic community of Jerusalem feels responsible for faithfully preserving the patrimony of truth it has received from Jesus. It also realizes that it can rely on the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides its steps; for this reason it docilely calls on him in every circumstance. We also see him in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. After reflecting on the obligations to be laid on the pagans who were converted to Christianity, the Apostles wrote to the Greek communities: “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Ac 15,28).

Peter, James, Paul and the other Apostles are very aware of the task that the Lord has entrusted to them. They must continue his saving mission with generous docility to the Holy Spirit, so that the Gospel, the seed of a new humanity, may be spread everywhere. This is an indispensable condition if God’s kingdom is to advance on the paths of history.

3. Dear brothers and sisters of St Mary of the Assumption in Tufello, I am very pleased to be with you today and to become acquainted with your community and your neighbourhood. Thank you for your warm welcome. Your parish, situated on the city’s outskirts, has many things in common with that of St Stephen Protomartyr in Tor Fiscale, which I visited last 26 April. Unfortunately, there are considerable concerns and social problems here, too.

I am thinking, for example, of the lack of meeting places, of the high rate of unemployment, of the presence of so many elderly people who need care and assistance, of the sad phenomenon of drugs, for which there are no local programmes of prevention or for the rehabilitation of the drug-dependant. In this context, the efforts you are making to meet these challenges with practical interventions motivated by generous dedication assume even greater value.

870 Today I have come among you to express to you my appreciation for all you are doing in communion with the whole diocesan community, and I encourage you to persevere in your social and pastoral commitments. I respectfully greet the Mayor and the authorities present.

I cordially greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop of this area, and your young parish priest, Fr Rosario Matera, who in a few days’ time will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood: we can see and hear that he is young. I wish him a generous and fruitful ministry. My affectionate thoughts also go to the priests who collaborate in parish activities and to the former parish priest, Mons. Luigi Carletti, who guided your parish family for 21 years.

I greet the women religious of the Holy Family of the Sacred Heart, who offer their valuable service to the elderly in the retirement home they run, and the Sisters of the Angels, Adorers of the Blessed Trinity, who, in addition to working zealously in parish activities, conduct a kindergarten and a The Holy Father celebrates Mass at St Mary of the Assumption primary school. My greetings also go to all the members of the various parish groups, who I know are deeply committed to ensuring that the parish gives ever better expression to its identity as a “family of families”, a gathering place for the whole neighbourhood, where increasing attention is paid to the needs of individuals and where the Gospel is proclaimed with courage, fostering the encounter with Christ the Lord.

4. Dear brothers and sisters, to achieve these apostolic goals, your community has rightly made the message of Christ the centre and fulcrum of its missionary activity to inspire and nourish faith; you have done the same with the liturgy, so that it may be celebrated joyfully, and with charity, in order to bear active witness to it.

I know that, thanks to the City Mission, at least 120 missionaries in your parish have gone from house to house and 300 listening centres have been organized, thus preparing for the pastoral visit to every family which the parish priest intends to make next year. I am delighted and I congratulate you on this flurry of spiritual programmes which has been encouraged by the City Mission! Continue your grass-roots efforts in the area with an authentic missionary spirit. Be an entirely missionary community, which gives rise, like leaven, to hope in the neighbourhood.

The time of grace offered by the City Mission guides your evangelizing activity wherever people live, study and work, in places of joy and suffering, on holiday and in the course of daily events.

Do not be discouraged, if at times your forces seem to you to be limited or insufficient for the breadth of the mission. In today’s Gospel, Jesus assures us that the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, sent from the Father in the name of Jesus, is always with us. He is the principal agent of the work of the new evangelization. He teaches everything to the disciples and therefore to all of us, and reminds us of all that Jesus said.

5. “Its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (
Ap 21,22).

The vision of the heavenly city described in the Book of Revelation directs our gaze to the goal to which all humanity is striving: perfect communion with God.

Dear brothers and sisters, sustained by this hope and drawn by the radiance of the divine light, let us hasten our steps on our spiritual journey to the Lord. As the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 approaches, in this year dedicated in a particular way to the Holy Spirit, let us faithfully invoke his living presence and support.

May the Holy Spirit illumine us all, especially your parish community; may he prepare it to receive his seven holy gifts, courageous and fearless in joyfully proclaiming to everyone Jesus, who died and rose, the salvation of all who turn to him with trust.

871 May Mary, who in this month of May became a pilgrim in your parish homes through the visit of her revered image, protect you with her motherly help. May she make you disciples who are more and more conformed to her divine Son, and may she transform your parish into a community of brothers and sisters who are ready to witness to the Gospel with their lives.





(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.

872 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.

873 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!




(MAY 23-24, 1998)



Saturday, 23 May 1998

"To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days" (Ac 1,3).

1. Forty days! The Solemnity of Christ's Ascension into heaven ends the 40-day period that began on the Sunday of the Resurrection. There is a significant liturgical parallel between the seasons of Lent and Easter, a unique spiritual convergence that opens up new horizons for Christian life: Lent leads to the Resurrection; the 40 days after Easter are a preparation for the Ascension.

Thematically linked with Israel's 40- year journey to the promised land, Lent highlights in the New Covenant the journey of believers towards the paschal mystery, the culmination and keystone of human history and the economy of salvation. The 40 days which precede the Ascension symbolize the Church's pilgrimage on earth towards the heavenly Jerusalem, which she will eventually enter with her Lord.

In the paschal events Jesus reveals the fullness of immortal life. On the cross, he overcomes death and through his sacrifice sheds new light on all human existence. This is emphasized in the liturgical texts for the Solemnity of the Ascension, and especially in the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews which we have just heard: "It is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgement" (9:27). The risen Christ is transfigured in glory as the Eternal Priest of the New Covenant; he does not enter "into a sanctuary made with hands ... but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (He 9,24).

874 This awareness grows in contemplation of the sacred mysteries and gives a new meaning to daily life, directing it constantly to the ultimate, eternal realities. Heaven is our definitive dwelling place and we are called to build it already on earth, as the Apostle Paul suggests: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Col 3,1-3).

2. Fr Secondo Pollo, whom I have the joy of raising to the glory of the altars this evening, did precisely this. He is one of the many witnesses to the presence and action of the risen Jesus in the history of the world.

Fr Secondo is the model of a courageous priest who in his short lifetime was able to reach the peak of holiness. On the eve of his priestly ordination, the new blessed already showed with clear determination his intention to accept without reservation the demanding programme of the Gospel in his own life. "Make me holy" became his ideal and daily commitment. Guided by this intention, he actively carried out his priestly ministry, diligently seeking and following God's will.

Providence summoned him to many demanding duties connected with the Church of Vercelli. Endowed with a fine pedagogical sense, he taught in the diocesan seminaries, where he was a lecturer and spiritual director. He first made himself a disciple and diligent servant of God's word through assiduous study of the sacred disciplines and the intense activity of preaching. He was a generous dispenser of divine mercy in administering the sacrament of forgiveness. He enthusiastically worked with young people as a chaplain to Catholic Action, even following them into the tempest of war as a chaplain in the Alpine regiment. It was precisely in the heroic exercise of charity that this young priest from Vercelli gave up his soul to God, leaving to military chaplains the world over an example of how to love and serve their brethren in the army, and to the Alpini, a model and protector in heaven.

The secrets of Fr Secondo's ascent to the peaks of holiness were two: continual rootedness in God through prayer, and the most tender devotion to our heavenly Mother, Mary. His remarkable pastoral charity, which appears as the highest and most distinctive synthesis of his priestly ministry, drew its strength from assiduous dialogue with God and his filial love for Our Lady. He lived entirely for his brothers and sisters, ending his earthly life on St Stephen's day, almost in imitation of that ardent witness, "full of the Holy Spirit", mentioned in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 7:55).

Let us give thanks to the Lord for the gift of this blessed and for all the saints and blesseds who, in Christ the one Mediator of salvation, build a "bridge" between God and the world by reflecting and radiating heaven's brightness upon humanity making its pilgrim way on earth.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, I am pleased to be with you on this festive day for the Archdiocese of St Eusebius and to celebrate this solemn Eucharist for you. I greet everyone present and, in particular, the Pastor of your Archdiocese, dear Archbishop Enrico Masseroni. With him I greet his predecessor, dear Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone. I greet the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and other prelates in attendance. I greet the priests, the men and women religious and the representatives of the ecclesial associations and movements. I extend a respectful greeting to the Government's representative and to the civil and military authorities, with special thanks to those who have generously helped with the organization of my Pastoral Visit. At this time I would also like to recall Archbishop Albino Mensa, who for many years was the zealous and appreciated Pastor of your Church, and was called to his eternal reward at the beginning of this year. I know how vividly you remember his apostolic service, imbued with love of the Eucharist. "I can truthfully say", he wrote in his "spiritual testament", "that as a sacrifice and a sacrament, the Eucharist has illumined and gradually transformed my life as a priest and a Bishop"! May the Lord welcome him into his kingdom of peace and grant him that just reward which he promises to his faithful servants.

4. Dear brothers in the priesthood, I would like to speak to you in a special way today, which we can consider your day, in a certain sense, because of the beatification of one of your confrères, Fr Pollo. Fr Secondo is a friend and example to each of you: a concrete example of that holiness which can be reached through the daily toil of the ministry, a model of docility to the Holy Spirit who enables even the most ordinary actions of your pastoral mission to be accomplished in an extraordinary way.

Fr Secondo Pollo is also a model for all Christians, especially to the faithful of your Archdiocese. He reminds everyone that holiness is communion with God, fidelity to the Gospel, love for our brothers and sisters. Holiness is the vocation of the entire People of God. Our blessed testifies that following Jesus is a demanding task, but also a source of thrilling joy, because through the Cross we are able to share the joy of the Resurrection. The life of Fr Secondo, sacrificed in the violence of war, today becomes a pressing appeal for peace, which must be a commitment shared by all peoples and all nations.

5. And how can we forget that this courageous priest, formed in the school of the Gospel, was a devoted son of Mary? He nourished his love for the Blessed Virgin at the source of the ageold Marian devotion which is the golden thread of Vercelli's Christian tradition. Proof of this are the great shrines of Oropa and Crea, which from beyond their confines look down on your community from above, almost as if to represent physically our Mother's watchful gaze upon her devoted children. Proof of this is given by the numerous Marian shrines and the many churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin scattered throughout the Vercelli area.

The new blessed invites your ecclesial community to renew its trust in Mary, Queen of All Saints and Mother of the Church. May it be she who disposes each heart to listen docilely to the Holy Spirit, especially during this year dedicated to him. Indeed, he urges everyone to look forward to the approaching Great Jubilee with a desire for an authentic renewal of personal and community life.

875 6. Let us return to the Ascension. "While he blessed them, [Jesus] parted from them, and was carried up into heaven" (Lc 24,51).

The meeting of the risen Christ with his disciples ends with two actions, which Luke has left to the last lines of his Gospel, while he recounts what happened at the Ascension: the Lord's farewell blessing and the Apostles' attitude.

The blessing of the glorious Christ instils adoration and joy in his disciples. The mystery of the Ascension is thus permeated with the solemn tone of a dignified liturgy. The disciples recognize Jesus as the Lord who is victorious over death and, at the same time, they understand the deep meaning of his mission.

Their heart is filled with astonishment and praise: not, therefore, the sadness of a farewell, but joy at the certainty of a renewed presence. Jesus disappears from his disciples' physical sight to be present to the eyes of their hearts; he frees himself from the limits of space and time to become present to the people of every time and every place, and to offer everyone the gift of salvation.

Like the Apostles, like St Eusebius, like the host of blesseds of this illustrious Church to which Fr Secondo Pollo is added today, we too are certain of his presence.

Yes, Christ is with us and within us; he is with us every day, until the end of the world.





(MAY 23-24, 1998)





Solemnity of the Ascension, 24 May 1998

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses” (Ac 1,8).

1. Jesus speaks these words before his Ascension into heaven. With them he outlines for his Church her future programme, her mission, and calls those who have been his witnesses to carry it out.

First of all, the Apostles who had “seen” the events of the Passion: they had been overcome with fear when he was crucified, and later rejoiced at his Resurrection. In the paschal mystery, Christ thus expresses the whole truth of his divine sonship and his messianic mission. On the road to Emmaus, he explains to the two disciples that the Messiah had to bear all these things in order to enter into the Father’s glory (cf. Lk Lc 24,26). Now, at the moment when he is leaving the world to return to heaven, he asks “his” followers to bear witness to these events in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

876 The teaching they must spread is not an abstract system of ideas, but the Word about a living reality. And it is precisely by virtue of this Word that the Church will spread throughout the world.

This Word, taken beyond the borders of Palestine by the first witnesses, has given rise to countless throngs of other witnesses in every corner of the globe, most of whose names we do not know; but the Church retains a vivid memory of others. This is the case, for example, of those who are proclaimed blessed here in Turin today: Teresa Bracco, Giovanni Maria Boccardo and Teresa Grillo Michel.

2. Fr Giovanni Maria Boccardo was a man of deep spirituality and, at the same time, a dynamic apostle, a promoter of the religious life and the laity, ever attentive to discerning the signs of the times. Through prayerful listening to the God’s word, he developed a faith that was profound and very much alive. He wrote: “Yes, my Lord, whatever you want, I want too”.

What can be said of his tireless zeal for the poorest? He cared for every form of human misery with the spirit of St Cajetan of Thiene, a spirit which he instilled in the women’s congregation he founded to care for the elderly and the suffering and for the education of youth. He made his own the Gospel motto: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (cf. Mt
Mt 6,33).

Like the holy Curé of Ars, to whom he was devoted, he showed his parishioners the way to heaven by word and especially by example. On the day he entered Pancalieri as parish priest, he said to the faithful: “I come to you, dear friends, to live like one of you, as your father, brother and friend, and to share with you life’s joys and pains’.... I come to you as the servant of you all and each of you can consider me at your disposal, and I will always count myself fortunate and happy to be able to serve you, with no other desire than to do good to all”.

He always declared himself a devoted son of Our Lady and turned to her with constant trust. To anyone who asked him: “Is it very difficult to gain paradise?”, he answered: “Be devoted to Mary, who is its ‘Gate’, and you will enter”. His example is still vivid in the memory of the people who from this day on can call upon him as their intercessor in heaven.

3. Teresa Grillo Michel is another shining witness of Gospel charity. She was called by the Lord to spread love especially among the very poor, through the congregation of the Little Sisters of Divine Providence which she founded.

From a well-to-do aristocratic family, she first embraced the marital vocation, being wedded to Giovanni Battista Michel, a captain of the Bersaglieri. However, widowed at the age of 36 and without children, she felt spurred to devote herself totally to the service of the lowliest. Thus she became a mother to so many of the abandoned: orphans, the elderly, the sick. When she began her work in Alessandria, the city of her birth, she said: “The poor are increasing faster than I can manage, and I wish I could open my arms further to welcome so many under the wings of divine Providence”.

The Eucharist was the heart of her spiritual life and that of her sisters, and she wanted its image to be seen on their religious habit. From prolonged prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Teresa drew inspiration and support for her daily dedication, as well as for her courageous missionary projects which several times took her as far as Brazil.

This generous daughter of Piedmont follows in the steps of the saints and blesseds who, down the centuries, have brought to the world the message of divine love through active service to their needy brethren. Let us thank God for the living witness given by the holiness of this woman who enriches your region and the whole Church.

4. If in Giovanni Maria Boccardo and Teresa Grillo Michel it is the virtue of charity which is especially brilliant, in Teresa Bracco it is the virtue of chastity that shines out, and she was its champion and witness to the point of martyrdom. She was 23 years old when, during the Second World War, she chose to die rather than yield to a soldier who was threatening her virginity. That courageous stance was the logical consequence of a firm desire to remain faithful to Christ, in accordance with the intention she had several times expressed. When she learned what had happened to other young women in that time of turmoil and violence, she exclaimed without hesitation: “I would rather die than be violated!”.

877 That is what happened during a round-up. Martyrdom crowned her journey of Christian maturation, developed day after day with the strength she drew from daily Eucharistic Communion and a deep devotion to the Virgin Mother of God.

What a significant Gospel witness for the young generations who are approaching the third millennium! What a message of hope for those who are striving to run counter to the spirit of the world! To young people in particular, I hold up this young woman whom the Church is proclaiming blessed today so that they may learn from her clear faith, witnessed to in daily commitment, moral consistency without compromises and the courage of sacrificing even life if necessary, in order not to betray the values that give it meaning.

Thinking of the rural environment in which Teresa grew up, I am pleased to address an affectionate word to the farmers who have come in large numbers from the Langhe and the entire Piedmont to honour her and to entrust themselves to her intercession. I would also like to send my greetings to the nuns of the Trinity Charterhouse, which stands near the place of Teresa’s martyrdom. Faithful to the Rule that commits them to prayer and contemplation in solitude and silence, these sisters of ours are physically absent but spiritually present at this solemn celebration.

5. The figures of the new blesseds direct our thoughts toward that heaven which the Lord entered in the mystery of his Ascension. The Letter to the Hebrews has spoken of it in strongly evocative terms, putting before our eyes Christ who has entered like a High Priest not “into a sanctuary made with hands ... but into heaven itself ... to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (
He 9,24). This perspective enables us to understand better the message of the Shroud, a moving icon of Christ’s Passion. I thank the Lord who has given me the opportunity to return to Turin once again, to contemplate this extraordinary testimony to Christ’s suffering.

I am pleased once again to greet everyone present, starting with the Archbishop of Turin, dear Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, together with the Bishops of Piedmont and the civil authorities present, including the representative of the Italian Government, to whom I extend a special greeting. I greet the clergy, the religious, the committed laypeople and all those present, especially the pilgrims who have come with devotion to pay homage to the Shroud.

The Shroud! What an eloquent message of suffering and love, of death and immortal life! It enables us to understand the conditions Jesus wished to endure before ascending into heaven. In its dramatic eloquence, this most precious Linen offers us a most significant message for our life: the source of all Christian life is the redemption won for us by the Saviour, who for our sake took on our human condition, suffered, died and rose again. The Holy Shroud speaks to us of all these things. It is a unique witness.

6. The blesseds we are venerating for the first time today accepted this saving message and made it their own. In contemplating them, the Church rejoices. She rejoices in the Spirit, because in them she already glimpses the heavenly homeland, that glorious house of God where we are all expected. “In my Father’s house there are many rooms ... I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn 14,2), Jesus had said to his disciples on the eve of his Passion. The new blesseds have reached the place prepared for them by Christ after ascending into heaven.

The task now passes to us, who are still pilgrims on our earthly way. After Jesus’ Ascension, two angels asked the Apostles: “Why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus ... will come in the same way” (Ac 1,11). The question is also addressed to us: we are now in the time of active and watchful waiting for Christ’s glorious return.

Enlivened by keen hope, our spirit rejoices and cries out: “Come, Lord Jesus!”. The response, given to us in the book of Revelation, fills our heart and that of every believer with joy: “‘Surely I am coming soon’. Amen” (cf. Rv Ap 22,20).

S. John Paul II Homil. 869