The 19th Public Session of the Pontifical Academies was held Nov. 20 in Rome. It was organized this year by the International Marian Pontifical Academy on the theme: “Mary, Icon of God’s Infinite Beauty. The Marialis Cultus, and the Marian-Mariological Teaching of Blessed Paul VI. “

The works were opened by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Council of Coordination between the Pontifical Academies.

In the course of the Session, and before awarding the Prize of the Pontifical Academies and the Medal of the Pontificate to this year’s winners, the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, read a Message sent by the Holy Father Francis.

Here is a translation of the text of the Message.

* * *

To the Venerable Brother

Lord Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi,

President of the Council for Culture and of

The Council of Coordination between the Pontifical Academies

I give my cordial greeting to all those taking part in the 19thPublic Session of the Pontifical Academies, dedicated to the theme “Mary, Icon of the Infinite Beauty of God. The Marialis Cultus and the Marian-Mariological Teaching of Blessed Paul VI.”

Your meeting, prepared by the International Marian Pontifical Academy, recalls the unforgettable figure of my Venerable Predecessor, Blessed Paul VI, and his great love for the Virgin Mary, expressed in so many instances of his Pontificate as well as in numerous Documents.

In fact, after following attentively the passage of the formulation of Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which established the conciliar reflection on Our Lady, contemplated “in mysterio Christi et Ecclesiae,”  he wished to dedicate to the Mother of God, and to the devotion addressed to her also as Mater Ecclesiae, two Encyclical Letters, the Mense Maio and the Christi Matri, as well as three Apostolic Exhortations dedicated to Mary: Signum Magnum, Recurrens Mensis October and, finally, Marialis Cultus, document that you have opportunely recalled forty years after its publication.

Then on the eve of the 50thanniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, fixed by Paul VI not accidentally on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8, 1965), it is truly lovely that you wish to hear his voice again, proposing the film with the homily in which he entrusted to Mary the destiny of the Church, profoundly renewed in the conciliar . On that solemn and historic occasion, Blessed Paul VI wished to point out Mary to the whole Church as “the Mother of God and our spiritual Mother.” And he added, “Is it not, perhaps, by fixing our gaze on this humble woman, our Sister as well as our Heavenly Mother and Queen, clear and sacred mirror of the infinite Beauty, that our conciliar spiritual ascension and this final greeting can end? Does not this beauty of Mary Immaculate become an inspirational model for us?   -- a comforting hope?” Ten years later, on May 16, 1975, the same Pontiff, intervening in the Marian-Mariological Congress called at Rome by the International Marian Pontifical Academy, on the occasion of the Holy Year, wished to be the promoter -- be it in the ambit of Mariological research, be it in that of popular piety --, of the via pulchritudinis, the research itinerary that begins with the discovery and devout admiration of Mary’s beauty, grasped as reflection of the infinite beauty of God Himself.

In crucial and difficult moments for the Church and for humanity, Paul VI always turned to Mary, exhorting the People of God to request her intercession and protection. From her he invoked above all the gift of peace. The heartbroken words of the Encyclical Letter Mense Maio sound all the more timely: “To Mary, therefore, we raise our supplications, to implore with growing fervor and trust her graces and favors. She knew the sorrows and tribulations of down here, the effort of daily work, the hardships and lacks of poverty, the sorrows of Calvary, may she help, therefore, the needs of the Church and of the world; may she hear kindly the invocations of peace raise to her from every part of the earth; may she illumine those who govern the fate of peoples, obtain from God, who controls the winds and tempests, to also calm the tempests of opposing human hearts and give us peace in our time, true peace, that peace founded on the firm and lasting basis of justice and love” (n. 11).


On the day after the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I also entrusted the Church’s journey to the maternal and solicitous intercession of Mary, reminding all believers that, “there is a Marian style in the Church’s evangelizing activity. Because, every time we look at Mary we again believe in the revolutionary force of tenderness and affection. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong, who do not need to mistreat others to feel important. This dynamic of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and of going out to others, is what makes her an ecclesial model for evangelization” (n. 288).

Therefore, we must not tire of learning from Mary, of admiring and contemplating her beauty, of allowing ourselves to be guided by her who always leads us to the original source and the fullness of the authentic, infinite beauty of God, revealed to us in Christ, Son of the Father and Son of Mary.

Wishing to encourage and support all those committed to making a serious and valid contribution to Mariological research, particularly that which follows and deepens the via pulchritudinis, I am happy to award the Prize of the Pontifical Academies to the Italian Inter-Disciplinary Mariological Association, especially for the publication, now more than 20 years old, of the Theotokos Review. As a sign of encouragement for the precious work carried out with passion at the pastoral level, I award the Medal of the Pontificate, then, to the Marian Center of Cultural Diffusion, of the Servants of Mary working in Mexico.

Finally, I wish for the Academicians and all those present a fruitful commitment in their respective fields of research and I entrust each one to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, the Tota Pulchra, while I impart from my heart a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, November 20, 2014


[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]