VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 9, 2009 ( One who does not love the cross of Christ does not love Christ, says Benedict XVI, citing St. Peter Damian.

The Pope recalled today this saying of the the 11th century saint when he continued his reflection on great figures of the Church during his general audience catechesis.

The Holy Father considered Peter Damian (1007-1072), pointing out his love for the cross and his insightful theological reflection.

Regarding the saint's love for the cross, the Pontiff noted that Peter Damian referred to himself as "Peter servant of the servants of the cross of Christ."

He continued: "Peter Damian addressed most beautiful prayers to the cross, in which he reveals a vision of this mystery that has cosmic dimensions, because it embraces the whole history of salvation:

"'O blessed cross,' he exclaimed, 'you are venerated in the faith of patriarchs, the predictions of prophets, the assembly of the apostles, the victorious army of the martyrs and the multitudes of all the saints.'"

The Holy Father thus exhorted the faithful to follow the example of St. Peter Damian in looking "at the cross as the supreme act of love of God for man, which has given us salvation."

Theological insight

Benedict XVI went on to consider Peter Damian's theological insight, particularly mentioning his understanding of the trinity, the figure of Christ, and the unity of the Church.

"His reflection on several doctrinal subjects led him to important conclusions for life," the Pope observed.

Particularly the saint's understanding of the communion of the Church led him to join with the popes of his time in working for reform.

Benedict XVI explained: "'The Church of Christ,' [Peter Damian] wrote, 'is united by the bond of charity to the point that, as she is one in many members, she is also totally gathered mystically in just one of her members; so that the whole universal Church is rightly called the only Bride of Christ in singular, and every chosen soul, because of the sacramental mystery, is fully considered Church.'

"This is important: Not only that the whole universal Church is united, but that in each one of us the Church in her totality should be present. Thus the service of the individual becomes 'expression of universality.'"

Hence, the Holy Father reflected, the saint "saw that it was not enough to contemplate, and [he] had to give up the beauty of contemplation to assist in the work of renewal of the Church. Thus he renounced the beauty of the hermitage and courageously undertook numerous journeys and missions."'

Finally, the Bishop of Rome said, Peter Damian "consumed himself, with lucid consistency and great severity, for the reform of the Church of his time. He gave all his spiritual and physical energies to Christ and the Church, always remaining, as he liked to call himself, 'Petrus ultimus monachorum servus,' Peter, last servant of the monks."