VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2004 ( The 160th anniversary of the publication of "True Devotion to Mary" has given John Paul II the chance to recall the doctrine of its author, St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort.

It is to the saint that the Pope owes his episcopal motto, "Totus Tuus," an expression of his total belonging to Jesus through Mary.

In his youth, Karol Wojtyla received "a great help" from the work.

"I found the answer to my perplexities due to the fear that the devotion to Mary, if excessive, might end by compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ," the Pope said in his message to the religious of the Montfort family, which the Vatican press office published today.

"Under the wise guidance of St. Louis-Marie, I understood that, if one lives the mystery of Mary in Christ, such a risk does not exist," the Pope said in his letter dated Dec. 8, solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

St. Louis-Marie wrote "True Devotion to Mary" at the start of 1700, but the manuscript was practically ignored until it was rediscovered in 1842 and published a year later.

Re-read in the light of the Second Vatican Council, the Montfort doctrine retains "its substantial validity," the Holy Father said.

"As is known, in my episcopal coat of arms [...] the motto 'Totus Tuus' is inspired by the doctrine of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary," John Paul II explained.

"'Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt,' St. Louis-Marie wrote; and he translates: 'I am all yours, and everything of mine belongs to you, my beloved Jesus, through Mary, your holy Mother,'" the Pope said.

According to the saint's thought, Mary "accompanies us in our pilgrimage of faith, hope and charity toward an ever more intense union with Christ, only Savior and Mediator of salvation," the Holy Father said.

For St. Louis-Marie, true Marian devotion is Christ-centered and becomes a privileged means "to find Jesus Christ perfectly, to love him tenderly, and to serve him faithfully."

In this connection, Mary becomes the faithful echo of God, the Pope said: "Every time that you honor Mary, Mary praises and honors God with you."

The Holy Father continued: "St. Louis-Marie contemplates all the mysteries beginning with the Incarnation, which takes place at the moment of the Annunciation," in such a way that in the treatise "Mary appears as 'the true earthly paradise of the New Adam,' the 'virgin and immaculate earth' from which he has been formed."

"She is also the New Eve," John Paul II added, "associated to the New Adam in the obedience that repairs the original disobedience of man and woman. Through this obedience, the Son of God enters into the world. The cross itself is already mysteriously present in the instant of the Incarnation."

St. Louis-Marie wrote: "All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. ... Now, from Mary being the creature most conformed to Jesus Christ, one learns that, among all the devotions, the one that most consecrates and conforms a soul to Our Lord is devotion to Mary, his holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more consecrated it will be to Jesus Christ."

The cross, the Pope said, is the culminating moment of Mary's faith: "Through this faith, Mary is perfectly united to Christ in his despoliation. ... This is, perhaps, the most profound kenosis of faith in the history of humanity."

For more information, see