Benedict XVI Echoes the Fatima Message

Emphasizes a Note of Hope for Fateful Anniversary

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI presented the message of hope given by Our Lady of Fatima, whose image visited Rome for the 25th anniversary of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.



"'In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,'" said the Pope during his Regina Caeli address on Sunday, recalling the words uttered by the "lady in white" to the little Portuguese shepherds in 1917.

On May 13, 1981, "the Servant of God, John Paul II, felt that he had been saved miraculously from death by the intervention of a 'maternal hand,' as he himself said, and all his pontificate was marked by what the Virgin had announced in Fatima," explained Benedict XVI.

The message the Blessed Virgin entrusted to Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia, "in continuity with that of Lourdes, was an intense call to prayer and conversion," recalled the Pontiff in the presence of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

According to the Holy Father, it was a "truly prophetic" announcement, "especially if one considers that the 20th century was scourged by unheard-of destructions, caused by wars and totalitarian regimes, as well as by widespread persecutions against the Church," he continued.

"Although anxieties and sufferings have not been lacking, and there are still reasons for apprehension about the future of humanity, what the 'Lady in white' promised to the little shepherds is consoling: 'In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,'" Benedict XVI acknowledged.

The statue of Our Lady of Fatima arrived from Portugal on Friday and was received by the contemplative community of the Benedictine Sisters of the Mater Ecclesiae Convent.

In procession

Then, at 5 p.m. that day, the statue was carried in procession to the Pope's private chapel; he was able to pray before it during the night and the following Saturday morning.

Later, the statue was carried in procession to the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians, which is in the Vatican, and afterward to Paul VI Hall, for a meeting promoted by the Roman Work of Pilgrimages.

In the afternoon, the statue was taken by helicopter to Castel Sant'Angelo, where it was received by some 20,000 pilgrims, led by Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, India, who took it in procession on the Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square.

The procession paused on the site where John Paul II fell after being shot by Mehmet Ali Agca in 1981. On the occasion of the anniversary, a stone was placed on that site with John Paul II's coat of arms and the date of the attack, in Roman numerals.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for Rome, then presided over Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

In his homily, Benedict XVI recalled the poem "Stanislaw," written by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla shortly before he was elected Pope: "If the word has not converted, it will be blood that converts."

At the end of the Mass, a message from Benedict XVI was read by Cardinal Ruini, in which he expressed the hope that "the message of Fatima be increasingly accepted, understood and lived in every community."