Papal Address at Presentation of Apostolic Letter on Rosary

General Audience on the 24th Anniversary of His Pontificate

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2002 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II’s address at today’s general audience, in which he celebrated the 24th anniversary of his election as Pope by presenting the apostolic letter «Rosarium Virginis Mariae.» He also proclaimed the «Year of the Rosary.»

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. During my recent trip to Poland, I addressed Our Lady with the following words: «Most Holy Mother, […] obtain also for me the strength of body and spirit, so that I will be able to fulfill to the end the mission assigned to me by the Risen One. I give to you all the fruits of my life and of my ministry, I entrust to you the future of the Church; […] I trust in you and to you I say once again: ‘Totus tuus, Maria! Totus tuus!’ Amen» (Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Aug. 19, 2002). Today I repeat these same words, giving thanks to God for the 24 years of my service to the Church in the See of Peter. On this special day, I entrust once again to the hands of the Mother of God the life of the Church and that of sorely tried humanity. To her I also entrust my future. I place everything in her hands, so that with a Mother’s love, she will present it to her Son, «to the praise of his glory» (Ephesians 1:12).

2. Christ, Redeemer of man, is at the center of our faith. Mary does not obfuscate him, nor does she obfuscate his salvific work. Assumed into heaven in body and soul, the Virgin, the first to enjoy the fruits of the passion and resurrection of her own Son, is she who in the surest way leads us to Christ, the ultimate end of our actions and of all our existence. Therefore, addressing the whole Church in the apostolic letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte,» I added to the exhortation of Christ to «put out into the deep,» «On this journey we are accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom […] in the presence of a great number of bishops […], I entrusted the third millennium.» (No. 58). And in inviting believers to contemplate the face of Christ incessantly, I have greatly desired that in this contemplation Mary, his Mother, be the teacher for all.

3. Today I wish to express this desire with greater clarity through two symbolic gestures. In a few moments I will sign the apostolic letter «Rosarium Virginis Mariae.» Moreover, together with this document, dedicated to the prayer of the rosary, I proclaim the year, which extends from October 2002 to October 2003, the «Year of the Rosary.» I do so, not only because this is the 25th year of my pontificate, but also because it is the 120th anniversary of the encyclical «Supremi Apostolatus Officio,» with which on Sept. 1, 1883, my venerated predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, began the publication of a series of documents dedicated specifically to the rosary. There is, moreover, another reason: In the history of the Great Jubilees the good custom existed that, after the Jubilee Year dedicated to Christ and to the work of the Redemption, one was proclaimed in honor of Mary, as if imploring her help for the fruition of the graces received.

4. Is there, perhaps, a better instrument than the prayer of the rosary for the demanding but extraordinarily rich endeavor to contemplate the face of Christ together with Mary? To do so, however, we must rediscover the mystical profundity enclosed in the simplicity of this prayer, so dear to popular tradition. Indeed, in its structure, this Marian prayer is above all a meditation on the mysteries of the life and work of Christ. By repeating the invocation of the «Hail Mary,» we can reflect profoundly on the essential events of the mission of the Son of God on earth, which were transmitted to us by the Gospel and by Tradition. In order that this synthesis of the Gospel be more complete and offer greater inspiration, in the apostolic letter «Rosarium Virginis Mariae» I have proposed that another five mysteries be added to those already contemplated in the rosary, and I have called them «mysteries of light.» They include the public life of the Savior, from the baptism in the Jordan to the beginning of the Passion. The purpose of this suggestion is to expand the horizon of the rosary, so that the one who recites it with devotion and not mechanically will be able to penetrate even more profoundly in the content of the Good News and conform his own existence ever more to that of Christ.

5. I thank all of you here present, and those who in this special day are united to me spiritually. Thank you for the good will and especially for the assurance of the constant support of prayer. I entrust this document on the holy rosary to the pastors and faithful of the whole world. The Year of the Holy Rosary, which we will live together, will certainly produce beneficial fruits in the hearts of all, it will renew and intensify the action of grace of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and will become a source of peace for the world.

May Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary, which we see exhibited here in the beautiful image venerated at Pompeii, lead the children of the Church to the fullness of union with Christ in his glory!

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father addressed the English-speaking peoples as follows:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the beginning of the 25th year of my Pontificate, I once again entrust to the Blessed Virgin Mary my ministry and the needs of humanity. Today, in honor of Mary, I sign the Apostolic Letter «Rosarium Virginis Mariae,» which presents the Rosary as an outstanding means of contemplating the face of Christ. I propose five additional mysteries — the Mysteries of Light — which expand the Rosary to include Christ’s public ministry. Today I also announce the beginning of a Year of the Rosary. Through renewed devotion to the Rosary, may all the faithful, in union with Mary, grow in understanding of the Gospel and conform their lives ever more fully to Christ.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors from England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Australia, the Philippines, Japan, and the United States of America. Commending you and your families to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I invoke upon you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

[original English text distributed by Vatican Press Office]

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