ROME, DEC. 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- During a traditional homage for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, John Paul II entrusted to Mary’s hands the peace of the world.
“Pray, O Mother, for all of us. Pray for humanity that suffers poverty and injustice, violence and hatred, terror and war,” the Pope said in a strong voice when he delivered the meditation he composed for today’s occasion.
Before the 30-meter-high (100 foot) bronze statue of the Immaculate Conception in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna, the Holy Father, wearing his red cape, continued praying to the Virgin: “Help us to contemplate with the holy rosary the mysteries of him who ‘is our peace,’ so that we will all feel involved, in a specific effort of service for peace.”
The Pontiff then prayed for the Middle East. “Look with special attention upon the land in which you gave birth to Jesus, a land that you loved together and that is still so tried today.”
“Pray for us, Mother of hope! Give us days of peace, watch over our way. Let us see your Son full of joy in heaven,” he added.
Later, the Pope made a brief private visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, to venerate the ancient icon of the Blessed Virgin, “Salvation of the Roman People,” protectress of the Eternal City.
The Dec. 8 homage in the Roman piazza is a tradition started by Pope Pius XII in 1957. The statue of the Virgin was placed there in 1857 by Pope Pius IX to commemorate the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which he proclaimed three years earlier.
At his Angelus address earlier in the day at the Vatican, John Paul II summed up the sense of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception this way: “The humble maiden of Nazareth, who with her ‘yes’ to the angel changed the course of history, was preserved from her conception from every stain of sin.”
He added: “We are invited to imitate her: Mary was pleasing to God because of her docile humility. […] ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.’ It is with these same interior dispositions that believers are called to accept the divine will in every circumstance.”