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Welcome, Holy Father, to Częstochowa!

2016-07-28 / Franciszek


Today, Thursday, July 28, Pope Francis visited the Jasna Góra shrine in Czestochowa, where he was acclaimed by hundreds of thousands of young Catholics. Here he celebrated a Holy Mass to mark this year's 1050th anniversary of Poland's conversion to Christianity in front of the Polish bishops and many authorities, among whom were President Andrzej Duda and his wife.

The pope mobile made its way through the acclaiming crowd, which Francis greeted with visible emotion. The field in front of the Monastery was immediately covered by a colorful wave of pilgrims while the speaker greeted the Pope, “Welcome, Holy Father!”

Once in the shrine, Pope Francis sweetly greeted a group of ill and disabled people and blessed them. Then, he went to the chapel of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Jasna Gora to venerate the icon of the Black Madonna. Francis prayed in silence for a few minutes in front of the image – which is shown to the public twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. At the end the Pope offered Mary a silver rose on a pink marble pedestal. This is an exclusive gift that popes traditionally offer to Marian Sanctuaries. The Black Madonna is a very important symbol for Poland. It permeated the history of this nation, shaped its culture, and strengthened its faith. Still today Polish people are known as the guardians of Catholic Orthodoxy.

Francis' homily focused specifically on the figure of Mary, on her humility and on the concrete project of Divine Salvation. “Mary is a Mother who takes people’s problems to heart and acts. She recognizes moments of difficulty and handles them discreetly, efficiently, and decisively. She is neither imperious nor intrusive, but a Mother and a handmaid.” Pope Francis speaks about humility, littleness, simplicity and concreteness. God manifests himself “in a small village, a simple miracle takes place and brings joy to the wedding of a young and completely anonymous family.” “God saves us, then by making himself little, near and real. God is real,” says Francis. “The Lord does not want to be feared like a powerful and aloof sovereign, he becomes flesh, is born of a mother, is born under the law, has friends and goes to a wedding party.” There was no triumphant entrance or striking epiphany of the Almighty. “He did not reveal himself as a brilliant rising sun, but entered the world in the simplest of ways, as a child from his mother.”

Francis reminds us that it is in fact exquisitely divine “to give oneself to others, eliminating distances, dwelling in littleness and living in the reality of one’s everyday life.” Jesus loves, especially the little ones, “because they are opposed to the pride of life that belongs to the world. The little ones speak his own language, that of the humble love that brings freedom. So he calls the simple and receptive to be his spokespersons; he entrusts to them the revelation of his name and the secrets of his heart”.

Francis invites the faithful to entrust themselves to Mary. In her, he assures, “we will find complete conformity to the Lord. Mary is that space, preserved free from sin, where God chose to mirror Himself. She is the stairway God took to descend and draw near to us.” In the afternoon, the Pope will return to Krakow, where he will receive the symbolic key to the city. He will then take a tram to Błonia park. On his way to Błonia, the Pope will be accompanied by a group of young disabled people.

Daniele Sebastianelli

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