VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2006 ( Benedict XVI urges the faithful to experience "an authentic epiphany," which means that all must first open their hearts to Christ.

The Holy Father expressed this today when addressing 50,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus on the feast of the Epiphany.

The Pope recalled the World Youth Day, which brought together more than one million young people in Cologne last August, under the motto "We Have Come to Worship Him," the words expressed by the three Wise Men in reference to Jesus.

"That memorable event," said the Pontiff recalling his first international apostolic trip, was "an authentic 'epiphany,'" which in Greek means "manifestation."

The Holy Father extended to the whole Church the message he proposed on Aug. 18 to young people gathered along the Rhine River: "Open your hearts wide to God, let yourselves be astonished by Christ!"

"Open the doors of your freedom to his merciful love!" he exhorted. "Show Christ your joys and sorrows, allowing him to illuminate your minds with his light and touch your hearts with his grace.

"I would like the whole Church to breathe, as in Cologne, the atmosphere of 'epiphany' and of genuine missionary commitment, aroused by the manifestation of Christ, light of the world, sent by God the Father to reconcile and unify humanity with the force of love."