August 15, 2000

Dearest Brothers and Sisters!

1.  Today the Church rejoices in celebration of the glorious Assumption
of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. Guided by Revelation and
Tradition, the people of God have always believed that the Mother of
Christ was associated with the victory of her Son over death, and
venerates her, assumed into glory in soul and body. Chosen by God as the

purest abode to "come and dwell in" in the midst of people, Mary was
taken immediately to heaven at the end of her earthly existence. Because

of this, the Christian community joyfully sings her praises in a famous
hymn and invokes her thus: "Hail, powerful support of the faithful /
Hail, splendid standard of grace... / Hail, O key to the Kingdom of
Christ / Hail, hope of eternal treasures... / Hail, through you the
heavens exult with the earth / Hail, through you the earth rejoices with

the heavens"

The feast of the Assumption, celebrated almost everywhere according to
country custom, coincides [in Italy] with "Ferragosto," synonym for
summer vacation. I exhort all, especially those who are on vacation, to
rediscover the Christian meaning of today's feast, by taking part in the

Eucharistic celebration and praying with devotion to our heavenly

The Assumed One reminds us that Heaven is our true homeland and offers
us her maternal help to prepare for our final encounter with Christ, at
the end of our pilgrimage on earth.

2.  This year, August 15, at the heart of the Holy Year, is also the
beginning of the world meeting of youths. Many of them have arrived over

the past days, and this afternoon the official opening of the 15th World

Youth Day will take place, with the ceremony of the rite of welcome,
first at St. John Lateran, and then in St. Peter's Square. I am grateful

to the organizers and the numerous volunteers for all they have done and

will do over the next few days to insure the success of the Great
Jubilee of Youths. I am especially grateful to the families, parishes,
schools, and institutes, which have opened their doors to welcome the
young pilgrims from all over the world. It could be said that, from
today until next Sunday, Rome will be the capital of the world's youth!

3.  We invoke the Most Holy Virgin's maternal protection on this Jubilee

event. We invoke her, counting on the intercession of St. Maximilian
Kolbe, priest and martyr, whose feast we celebrated yesterday. May the
Queen of Heaven, so loved by him, continue to follow us on the earthly
road as a caring Mother of her children, especially of the new
generations, and remind all of the glorious end, where she has preceded
us and awaits us.
(ZENIT Translation)

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