ROCCA DI MEZZO, Italy, AUG. 19, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI spent this year’s Feast of the Transfiguration following Christ’s example in a particular way: He went into the mountains, where he visited a Marian shrine that marked its 1,400th anniversary this summer.
On Aug. 6, the Pope made a one-day pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin of the Needy (Madonna dei Bisognosi), in the Abruzzo region of Italy, which suffered a severe earthquake in 2009.
The Holy Father went to the small shrine located in the mountains, on the border between the Italian regions of Lazio and the Abruzzi, to pray with his collaborators, explained Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office.
The Pontiff’s one-day trip also included dinner with religious communities and 94-year-old Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.
In the afternoon, he and his private secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, went to Rocca di Mezzo. Accompanied there by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, he met with the parish priest, the mayor and other municipal authorities.
Benedict XVI also visited the Church of St. Leucio, damaged by the April 2009 earthquake.
L’Osservatore Romano reported on the shrine, which marked its 14th centenary in June: “It was built on Mount Serrasecca, which separates the cities of Pereto and Rocca di Botte, in the province of L’Aquila.
“Since the year 610 — when the wooden statue of the Virgin that gives its name to the shrine was allegedly transported from Seville to the mountain of Carsoli — up to today, this Marian place also houses a very ancient wooden crucifix and frescoes of great artistic value.”
“Popes have honored this shrine, a destination for faithful and devotees, granting it numerous indulgences,” continued the Vatican newspaper. “St. Francis in 1216 and Alexander IV in 1250 were two of the visitors that arrived to honor the Madonna dei Bisognosi.”
Among others who have visited this shrine are Mother Teresa of Calcutta in July of 1990.
This is Benedict XVI’s second visit to the shrine, since he also went in 2003 before his election to the See of Peter.