VATICAN CITY, MAR 14, 2001 (VIS) - The theme of John Paul II's catechesis
for today's general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, was: "Mary,
Eschatological Icon of the Church." As he entered the hall, the Pope passed
slowly through the atrium and the center aisle, stopping frequently to
greet those present.

In his catechesis the Pope observed that St. John's Book of Revelation
tells of a Child's birth, which "represents the coming of the Messiah, and
the woman evidently personifies the people of God, both the biblical Israel
and the Church. ... Against Mary and the Church rises the dragon
representing Satan and evil. ... Mary, her Son, and the Church, represent
the seeming weakness and smallness of love, truth, and justice. Against
them is unleashed the enormous destructive energy of violence, deceit, and

"The time of distress, persecution and trial," he continued, "is not,
therefore, indefinite: at the end liberation will come and it will be the
hour of glory."

John Paul II affirmed that, "contemplating this mystery in a marian
perspective, we can state that
'Mary, at the side of her Son, is the most
perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the

"We fix, then, our gaze upon Mary," the Pope added, "icon of the pilgrim
Church in the desert of history, but stretched out towards the glorious
goal of the heavenly Jerusalem

The Pope concluded the catechesis:
"In her glorious Assumption into
Mary is the image of the creature called by the risen Christ to
attain, at the end of history, the fullness of communion with God in the
resurrection for a blessed eternity.
For the Church which often feels the
weight of history and the siege of evil, the Mother of Christ is the
luminous emblem of a humanity redeemed and transformed by the grace that

During a brief ceremony at the end of the audience, the Holy Father
received from BMW Italy a gift of a BMW 740i Protection and eight BMW C1
models for his use and that of Vatican City State.
AG/MARY:ICON:CHURCH/... VIS 20010314 (350)

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