VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave at the end of today’s general audience to the people of France. The Pope will travel Friday-Monday to Paris and Lourdes.
His visit to the Marian shrine takes place in the context of the 150th anniversary of apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Next Friday I will begin my first pastoral journey to France as Successor of Peter. On the eve of my arrival, I wish to address a cordial greeting to the French people and to all the inhabitants of that beloved nation. I go as a messenger of peace and fraternity.
Your country is not unknown to me. On several occasions I have had the joy to visit it and to appreciate its generous tradition of hospitality and tolerance, as well as the solidity of its Christian faith and its lofty human and spiritual culture.
On this occasion, the reason for my trip is the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes. After visiting Paris, your country’s capital, I will have the great joy to join the crowd of pilgrims who are going to follow the stages of the jubilee journey, after St. Bernadette, to the Massabielle grotto.
My prayer will intensify at the feet of Our Lady for the intentions of the whole Church, in particular for the sick, the abandoned, as well as for peace in the world.
May Mary be for all of you, in particular for young people, the Mother always attentive to the needs of her children, a light of hope that illuminates and guides your ways!
Dear friends of France: I invite you to join me in prayer so that this trip will bring abundant fruits. In the joyous expectation of being among you soon, I invoke upon each one of you, on your families and communities, the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes. May God bless you![Translation by ZENIT]
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