DASSA-ZOUME, Benin, AUG. 26, 2002 (Zenit.org).- More than 20,000 pilgrims from Western Africa attended the consecration of the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace here.
Benin’s Cardinal Bernardin Gantin on Sunday presided over the Mass which attracted the president of Benin, members of the government, and other high state officials.
At the start of the Mass, characterized by typical Benin dances and songs accompanied by drums, a message was read sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, on behalf of John Paul II.
In the text, the Holy Father said that he hopes “this shrine, dedicated to the Mother of God, Virgin of Peace, will be for all Christians a call to live more profoundly the gift received at baptism to be each day living stones of the Church.”
In his homily, Cardinal Gantin urged Catholics of his country to live the mystery of the Eucharist and to imitate the charity of the Blessed Virgin.
“The Catholic Church in Benin, faithful to its mission of service and despite its limited means, wishes to continue its commitment in works of health care, education and social development,” said the cardinal, who is prefect emeritus of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.
The shrine, built on a rock, can seat 6,000 people. Even before the construction it was becoming one of the most important pilgrimage centers in Africa.