On Paul VI's Marian Devotion
"He Placed his Priesthood Under the Protection of the Mother of Jesus"
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BRESCIA, Italy, NOV. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus after he had celebrated Mass in the birthplace of Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.
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At the end of this solemn celebration, I would like to offer cordial thanks to those who were responsible for the liturgical animation and those who in various ways helped with the preparation and realization of my pastoral visit here in Brescia. Thanks to all! I also greet those who are following us on radio and television, along with those in St. Peter’s Square, and in a special way the numerous volunteers of the L’Unione Nazionale Pro Loco of Italy.
In this Angelus I would like to recall the profound devotion that the Servant of God Giovanni Battista Montini had for the Virgin Mary. He celebrated his first Mass in the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the marian heart of your city, not far from this piazza. In this way he placed his priesthood under the protection of the Mother of Jesus, and this connection accompanied him his whole life.
As his ecclesial responsibilities grew, he developed a broader and more organic vision of the relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the mystery of the Church. In this perspective, his Nov. 21, 1964, address at the closing of the third session of the Second Vatican Council is memorable. During that session of the Council the Constitution on the Church, “Lumen Gentium,” was promulgated. The document had, as Paul VI noted, “an entire chapter dedicated to the Madonna as its apex and crown.” The Pope noted that it contained the largest synthesis of marian doctrine ever elaborated by an ecumenical council, with the purpose of “manifesting the countenance of the Church to which Mary is intimately joined” (“Enchiridion Vaticanum,” Bologna 1979, p. , nos. 300-302). In that context he proclaimed Mary Most Holy “Mother of the Church” (cf. ibid., no. 306), underscoring with lively ecumenical sensitivity that “devotion to Mary … is a means essentially ordained to orient souls to Christ and thus join them to the Father, in the love of the Holy Spirit” (ibid., no. 315).
Echoing the words of Paul VI, we too today pray: O Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to you we commend this Church of Brescia and all the people of this region. Remember all your children; bring their prayers before God; keep their faith firm; strengthen their hope; make their charity grow. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary (cf. ibid., nos. 317, 320, 325).
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]