At midday today, solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, John Paul II appeared at the window of his study which overlooks St.  Peter's Square, in order to pray the angelus.


The Pope affirmed that the Blessed Virgin "invites us not to let our gaze linger upon her but to go deeper and penetrate the mystery in which she was conceived; in other words the mystery of the One Triune God, full of grace and faith."


After recalling that during the afternoon he would visit Rome's Piazza di Spagna for the traditional homage to the Virgin, he said, "to her I will again entrust the Church and humanity, at this uneasy moment in history."


In the afternoon the Pope travelled by popemobile to Piazza di Spagna where, on arrival, he blessed a basket containing 300 roses which was placed at the base of the column to Mary Immaculate.  The monument, which is being restored, is covered by sheeting upon which is an image of the column and of the statue of the Blessed Virgin.


Addressing the Virgin, the Pope said: "We ask you to present our prayer to He who clothed you in grace and delivered you from any shadow of sin.

Dark clouds gather on the horizon of the world.  Humanity, which greeted the dawn of the third millennium with hope, now feels threatened by new and distressing conflicts.  World peace is at risk.  For this reason we turn to you, Mary Immaculate, to ask that as a strong and understanding Mother you ensure that souls, freed from hatred, may open to mutual forgiveness, to constructive solidarity and to peace."


In recalling the missionary mandate that he entrusted to the Church of Rome for the occasion of the Great Jubilee, John Paul II requested that "the mission become the daily witness of each believer, each in their own life circumstances.  By this means, may the Christian face of Rome be renewed so that everyone may clearly see that faithfulness to Christ changes personal life and molds a peaceful future, a better tomorrow for everyone."


At the close of his homage, a unit of 75 sailors from the Spanish Navy frigate "Santa Maria" sang the "Salve Marinera" for peace in the world.


The Holy Father then travelled from Piazza di Spagna to the Basilica of St.  Mary Major where he blessed the new Holy Door and prayed before the image of the Mother of God "Salus Populi Romani."

JPII-IMMACULATE/.../...  VIS 20011210 (420)


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