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1. Today is the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a feast intimately linked to the mystery of the Assumption, which last Sunday, August 15, I had the joy of celebrating in the Shrine of Lourdes.
While I again thank God and all those who helped me to make that pilgrimage, I return in thought and heart to that humble Grotto of Massabielle. And from that place of silence and prayer, where everything speaks of Mary, I turn to other Marian shrines, visited in these August days by crowds of Christians.
2. In fact, in the course of this month, the feast of many Marian shrines are celebrated. I will limit myself to recall, in Italy, the Shrines of the Virgin of Oropa in Biella, of the Guard in Genoa, and of Tears in Syracuse. Nor can I forget the Shrines of Czestochowa and Kalvaria in Poland, which I have visited so many times to invoke the maternal help of the Virgin for the Church and the world. May the Redeemer's heavenly Mother be ever more welcomed, loved and venerated by the Christian people!
3. In this context, I invite you to turn with me to the Virgin Mary venerated with the title Mother of God of Kazan. Her icon, which left Russia in the decade of the '20s of the last century, after prolonged stays in different places, arrived some years ago in the Pope's apartment, and since that moment, has watched over his daily work. Now I am happy to announce that a special delegation will take this icon, which is so dear to me, to His Holiness Alexy II, patriarch of Moscow and of All Russias.
Next Wednesday, August 25, in the general audience, we will recollect ourselves together with the faithful to pray before this icon. From now on we entrust to Mary, Mother of unity and love, our prayers for the good of the Church and of the whole human family.
[Translation by ZENIT]