Pope Francis looked out from the balcony of the papal apartment to greet some 35,000 people Photo: Vatican Media

Mary, Mother of Silence (and a tribute to mothers around the world): Pope’s brief meditation as 2024 begins

Allocution on the occasion of the recitation of the Angelus on Monday, January 1, 2024, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 01.01.2024).- At the conclusion of Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica, Pope Francis looked out from the balcony of the papal apartment to greet some 35,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square. With them he prayed the Angelus and, moments before, he gave the address that usually precedes the recitation of the Marian prayer. We offer the English translation of the Pope’s words.


On this day, when we celebrate Mary, Mother of God, we place the new time given to us under her caring gaze. May she watch over us this year.



Today the Gospel reveals to us that the greatness of Mary does not consist in performing some extraordinary deed; rather, while the shepherds, having received the announcement from the angels, hurry towards Bethlehem (cf. Lk 2:15-16), she remains silent. The Mother’s silence is a beautiful feature. It is not a simple absence of words, but a silence filled with wonder and adoration for the wonders that God is working. “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart”, Saint Luke notes. (2:19). In this way she makes room within herself for the One who was born; in silence and adoration, she places Jesus at the centre and bears witness to Him as Saviour.

Thus, she is Mother not only because she carried Jesus in her womb and gave birth to him, but because she brings him into the light, without occupying his place. She will remain silent even beneath the cross, in the darkest hour, and will continue to make room for Him and generate Him for us. A twentieth-century religious and poet wrote: “Virgin, cathedral of silence / […] you bring our flesh into paradise / and God into the flesh” (D.M. TUROLDO, Laudario alla Vergine. “Via pulchritudinis”, Bologna 1980, 35). Cathedral of silence: it is a beautiful image. With her silence and humility, Mary is God’s first “cathedral”, the place where He and man can meet.



But our mothers too, with their hidden care, with their thoughtfulness, are often magnificent cathedrals of silence. They bring us into the world and then continue to attend to us, often unnoticed, so that we can grow. Let us remember this: love never stifles; love makes room for the other. Love lets us grow.

Brothers and sisters, at the beginning of the new year, let us look to Mary and, with a grateful heart, let us also think of and look at mothers, to learn that love that is cultivated above all in silence, that knows how to make room for the other, respecting their dignity, leaving the freedom to express themselves, rejecting every form of possession, oppression and violence. There is so much need for this today, so much! There is so much need for silence to listen to each other. As the Message for the World Day of Peace today reminds us, “Freedom and peaceful coexistence are threatened whenever human beings yield to the temptation to selfishness, self-interest, the desire for profit and the thirst for power”. Love, on the other hand, consists of respect, it consists of kindness: in this way, it breaks down barriers and helps us to live fraternal relationships, to build up more just, more humane, more peaceful societies.

Let us pray today to Mary Mother of God, and our Mother, that in the new year we may grow in this meek, silent and discreet love that generates life, and open paths of peace and reconciliation in the world.


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