VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II plans to go on pilgrimage this year to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii, near Naples, Italy, to pray for world peace.
Before bidding farewell to the thousands of pilgrims who attended today’s general audience, the Pope said that he, and all believers, are living “with our heart oppressed by the news coming from Iraq which is in war, without forgetting the other conflicts that rage on earth.”
“How important it is that during this Year of the Rosary we persevere in praying the rosary to implore peace!” he added. “I ask that you continue to do so, especially in Marian shrines.”
He added: “To Mary, Queen of the Rosary, I now entrust my intention to go to her shrine in Pompeii next Oct. 7 on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. May Mary’s maternal intercession obtain justice and peace for the entire world.”
The shrine is one of the major centers of Marian devotion in Italy. Construction on the church began in 1876.
John Paul II proclaimed the Year of the Rosary last October. The year will close this coming October.
Addressing pilgrims from the Netherlands and Belgium in Dutch, the Pope said: “Let us raise our prayers to God that love may conquer hatred, that peace, justice and solidarity may grow in every corner of the earth, in the spirit of the Gospel.”