LOURDES, France, AUG. 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the greeting John Paul II addressed to the sick on Saturday, when he arrived at the Grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, after drinking water from the spring which was offered to him by the shrine’s rector, Father Raymond Zambelli.
The address was read on the Pope’s behalf by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
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Here at this Grotto of Massabielle, I wish first of all to greet the sick who come in ever greater numbers to this shrine, those who have accompanied them, their caregivers and their families.
I am here with you, dear brothers and sisters, as a pilgrim to Our Lady. I make my own your prayers and your hopes. With you I share a time of life marked by physical suffering, yet not for that reason any less fruitful in God’s wondrous plan. With you I pray for all those who trust in your prayers.
In carrying out my apostolic ministry I have always trusted greatly in the offerings, prayers and sacrifices of the suffering. During this pilgrimage I ask you to join me in offering to God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, all the intentions of the Church and of the world.
Dear brothers and sisters who are sick, how I would like to embrace each and every one of you with affection, to tell you how close I am to you and how much I support you. I now do so in spirit, entrusting you to the maternal love of the Mother of the Lord and entreating her to obtain for all of us the blessings and consolations of Jesus her Son.
[Translation of French original issued by Vatican press office]