Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer yesterday at noon to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and Happy Feast of Our Lady.
Today the Church celebrates one of the most important feasts dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary: the Feast of Her Assumption. At the conclusion of Her earthly life, the Mother of Christ was raised in soul and body to Heaven, that is, in the glory of eternal life, in the full communion with God.
Today’s Gospel (Lk. 1, 39-56) presents us to Mary who, immediately after having conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, went to see her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who also miraculously awaits a son. In this meeting full of the Holy Spirit, Mary expresses Her joy with the canticle of Magnificat, because She has fully realized the meaning of the great things that are happening in Her life: through Her the expectation of Her people is fulfilled.
But the Gospel also shows us what is the true reason Mary’s greatness and blessedness: the reason is faith. In fact, Elizabeth greets Her with these words: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk. 1,45). Faith is the heart of the whole history of Mary; She is the believer, the great believer; she knows – and says – that the violence of the mighty, the pride of the rich, the hubris of the arrogant weighs down in history. Still, Mary believes and proclaims that God does not abandon His humble and poor children, but helps them with mercy, with care, overthrowing the mighty from their thrones, scattering the proud from the plots in their hearts. This is the faith of Our Mother; this is the faith of Mary!
The Canticle of Our Lady also lets us sense the full meaning of the story of Mary: if the mercy of the Lord is the motor of history, then He could not “allow Her who generated the Lord of life to know the corruption of the sepulchre” (Preface). All this is not only about Mary. The “great things” done in Her by the Almighty profoundly touches us, it speaks of our journey in life, it reminds us of the destination that awaits us: the house of the Father. Our lives, seen in the light Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, is not a wandering without meaning, but a pilgrimage that, with all its uncertainties and sufferings, has a sure destination: the house of Our Father, who awaits us with love. It is beautiful to think of this: that we have a Father who awaits us with love, and that also our Mother Mary is there and She awaits us with love.
Meanwhile, as life goes on, God shines “for his people, a pilgrim on earth, a sign of consolation and of assured hope” (ibid.). That sign has a face, that sign has a name: the luminous face of the Mother of the Lord, the blessed name of Mary, the one full of grace, because She believed in the word of the Lord: the great believer! As members of the Church, we are destined to share the glory of our Mother, so that, thanks to God, we too may believe in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and, through Baptism, we are inserted into this mystery of salvation.
Today all together we pray, so that, while our path on this earth unfolds, She May turn to us Ger merciful eyes, that She clear for us the way, that She show us the destination, and that She shows us after this exile Jesus, the blessed fruit of Her womb: And together we say: Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet Virgin Mary!
After the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:
My thoughts go out, in this moment, to the people of the city of Tianjin, in northern China, where several explosions in an industrial area have caused numerous deaths and injuries, and extensive damage. I assure my prayers for those who have lost their lives and for all those who are suffering from this disaster; May the Lord give them comfort and support to all those engaged in relieving their suffering.
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims from different countries! I entrust you to the maternal care of our Mother, who lives in the glory of God and always accompanies our path.
And how beautiful would it be if today you could go to visit Our Lady, the Salus Populi Romani, in Saint Mary Major: it would be a beautiful gesture. Thank you for coming and I wish you a Happy Feast of the Madonna. Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.
[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]