In a letter sent to Bishop Vittorio Lupi of Savona (Italy), Pope Francis said that Our Lady’s message of “Mercy, not justice” is an “exhortation that is more valid than ever in our age.”
Bishop Lupi’s diocese is home to the Shrine of Our Lady of Savona. The shrine is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the coronation of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Pope Pius VII on May 10th, 1815.
On March 18th, 1536, the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant by the name of Antonio Botta, following the subjugation of the town by the Republic of Genoa.
In his message, the Holy Father recalled the difficult circumstances overcome by his predecessor to honor the Virgin Mary.
“In such a dramatic moment in the history of Europe, Pope Pius VII, kidnapped by Napoleon and imprisoned in Savona, was able to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy and he vowed that, once freed, he would return there to crown her,” he wrote.
“This took place on May 10th, 1815, and on May 24th he instituted the feast of Mary Most Holy, Help of Christians. Indeed, the Mother of Mercy is always close and helps all her children when they find themselves in danger, or, as is often the case in our times, they suffer discrimination and persecution.”
Concluding his message, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the upcoming Extraordinary Holy Year will enable the Church to spread its “trust in the Mother of Mercy, who in this land gave a perennial sign of her tenderness and her closeness to the pilgrim People of God in this world.”