Pope Entrusts His Mission to Mary

At a Shrine He’s Known Since Boyhood

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KRAKOW, Poland, AUG. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II entrusted to the Virgin Mary the fulfillment of his mission to the end, as he celebrated Mass in one of the shrines most important in his life.

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, located 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Krakow, was the pilgrimage center Karol Wojtyla frequented as a child with his father. He also went there as archbishop of Krakow, when faced with difficult decisions.

«Most Holy Mother,» he prayed at the end of his homily today, «Our Lady of Calvary, obtain also for me strength in body and spirit, that I may carry out to the end the mission given me by the risen Lord.»

«To you I give back all the fruits of my life and my ministry,» he said. «To you I entrust the future of the Church; to you I offer my nation; in you do I trust and once more to you I declare: Totus Tuus, Maria!»

The Latin phrase («All thine») — the motto of John Paul II’s pontificate — was inspired by the words of French theologian St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort (1673-1716).

The Holy Father was visibly moved. Before the Mass, in the presence of 500 people who crowded the church, he was profoundly recollected in prayer before an image of the Blessed Virgin. About 20,000 people followed the event from the square next to the shrine.

Karol Wojtyla came to this church as a boy, accompanied by his father, one year after his mother’s death. He last visited the shrine in 1979, during his first visit to Poland as Pope.

In his prayer, the Holy Father also entrusted to Mary «the needs of the poor and the suffering.» He asked the Mother of God to «enable the unemployed to find an employer,» adding «help those who are poverty-stricken to find a home. Grant families the love which makes it possible to surmount all difficulties. Show young people a way and a horizon for the future.»

«Cover children with the mantle of your protection, lest they be scandalized,» John Paul II continued.

«Confirm religious communities with the grace of faith, hope and love. Grant that priests may follow in the footsteps of your Son by offering their lives each day for the sheep. Obtain for bishops the light of the Holy Spirit, so that they may guide this Church to the gates of your Son’s Kingdom by a single, straight path,» the Holy Father added.

At the end of John Paul II’s prayer, prolonged applause broke out in the church and in the surrounding area.

Following the Mass, the Pope lunched with the community of Friars Minor, also known as Bernardines, who oversee the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Shrine.

The Pope left Poland this afternoon, ending the 98th international pilgrimage of his pontificate.

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