Addressing some 250,000 people gathered today in the Montorso esplanade near the national Marian shrine of Loreto, the Pope included in the list of the beatified the Catalan doctor and priest Pere Tarrés i Claret (1905-1950); Italian laymen Alberto Marvelli, engineer and politician (1918-1946); and Pina Suriano, consecrated laywoman and apostle of youth (1915-1950).
The three belonged to Catholic Action, as did the majority of the faithful present, who with this beatification Mass culminated the first World Forum of their association since the Second Vatican Council.
In his homily at the Mass, the Holy Father summarized the message he brought with these words: "Through the beatification of these three Servants of God, the Lord says to you today: Holiness is the greatest gift you can give the Church and the world."
The atmosphere was festive. Some 60,000 youths of Catholic Action spent the night in the Montorso esplanade, awaiting the arrival of John Paul II. The youths participated in a meeting of prayer and testimony.
At the Mass the Pope seemed tired. He read the homily with the help of aides, but presided over the whole celebration, which was longer than anticipated. He ended the ceremony with the recitation of the Angelus.
To the faithful who constantly interrupted him with applause, he said: "Carry in your hearts what the Church carries in her heart: that many men and women of our time be conquered by the attraction of Christ."
May his Gospel "shine again as a light of hope for the poor, the sick, those hungry for justice," the Holy Father continued.
"May Christian communities be ever more lively, open, attractive; may our cities be welcoming and livable for all; may humanity be able to follow the ways of peace and fraternity," the Pope added.
It corresponds to the laity to "witness to the faith through the virtues that are specific to you," among them, "fidelity and tenderness in the family, competence in work, tenacity in serving the common good, solidarity in social relations, creativity in undertaking works that are useful to evangelization and human promotion," he said.
"It corresponds [to the laity] also to show, in close communion with pastors, that the Gospel is timely, and that faith does not remove the believer from history, but submerges him more profoundly in it," the Pope said.
John Paul II's last words to Catholic Action were: "May the Lord guide your journey of renewal!" He added that the "Immaculate Virgin of Loreto accompanies you with tender solicitude; the Church looks to you with confidence; the Pope greets you, supports you, and gives you his heartfelt blessing."
Catholic Action dates back to 1867, to the Society of Italian Catholic Youth, approved the following year by Pope Pius IX. It was established with its present name and configuration by Pope Pius XI.
According to tradition, the Shrine of Loreto, located near the Adriatic coast, preserves the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary, transported from Nazareth in 1294.