On the evening of 7 October, the First Saturday of the month, the Holy Father led the recitation of the Rosary in St Peter's Square. Joining the Pope in the Marian devotion were the Bishops who had come to Rome for their Jubilee celebration. The prayer service was enhanced by the presence of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima, which was carried in procession to the esplanade in front of the basilica, as the Litany "Sancta Maria Regina" was sung. The recitation of the glorious mysteries of the Rosary was interspersed with passages from Sacred Scripture and various Church documents, hymns and special prayers. The fifth decade was led by Sr Lucia dos Santos and the community of the Carmelite monastery in Coimbra, who were linked by radio
and television with St Peter's Square. The service concluded with three Portuguese shepherd children laying a bouquet of flowers at the feet of Our Lady's statue, as the antiphon Salve Regina was sung. Before the conclusion of the Marian devotion, the Holy Father gave the following address in Italian. Here is a translation.
1. At the end of this intense moment of Marian prayer, I wish to offer a cordial greeting to all of you, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, and I gladly extend it to the many faithful who are with us this evening here in St Peter's Square or have joined us by radio and television.
As we gathered in Rome for the Jubilee of Bishops, the First Saturday of the month of October could only prompt us to pray together at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, whom the People of God venerate this day with the title Queen of the Holy Rosary.
In particular, our prayer this evening takes place in the light of the "message of Fátima", whose content helps us to reflect on the history of the 20th century. To reinforce this spiritual perspective, we are fortunate to have in our midst the revered image of Our Lady of Fátima, which I have the joy of welcoming back to the Vatican, in this solemn setting, with my Brothers in the Episcopate and with so many priests, religious and faithful who have gathered this evening in this square.
2. We have meditated on the "glorious mysteries". From heaven where the Lord has taken her, Mary ceaselessly directs our gaze to the glory of the Risen Christ, in whom the victory of God and of his loving plan over evil and death is revealed. As Bishops, who share in Christ's sufferings and glory (cf. 1 Pt 5: 1), we are the first witnesses to this victory, the basis of sure hope for every individual and for the whole human race.
Jesus Christ, the Risen One, has sent us into the whole world to proclaim his Gospel of salvation, and in the course of 20 centuries the message has spread from Jerusalem to the five continents. This evening our prayer has spiritually united the human family around Mary, Regina Mundi.
3. In the context of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, we wanted to express the Church's gratitude for the motherly care that Mary has always shown to her children on their pilgrimage through time. There is no century or people in which she has not made her presence felt, bringing light, hope and comfort to the faithful, especially the lowly and the poor.
Trusting in her motherly care, at the end of our Eucharistic concelebration tomorrow we will collegially make our "Act of Entrustment" to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This evening, while meditating on the glorious mysteries of the Holy Rosary, we prepared inwardly for this act, taking the attitude of the Apostles in the Upper Room, gathered with Mary in unanimous and united prayer.
For each of you, dear Brothers, and for your ministry I have invoked and am invoking the special intercession of the Mother of the Church. May she always assist you in the difficult yet exhilarating task of bringing the Gospel to every part of the world, so that every human being, beginning with the lowliest and the poorest, will receive the Good News of Christ the Saviour.