Pontiff Presents Mary as Road to Peace

During Homage to the Immaculate Conception

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ROME, DEC. 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- On the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI presented Mary as the guide toward peace.

During his visit Saturday to the image of the Immaculate Conception in Rome's Piazza de Spagna, the Pope proclaimed a "message of light and hope" to humanity.

After having been welcomed by the applause and cheers of the rain-soaked crowd of around 10,000, the Pontiff said that Mary "reminds us that we are all brothers and that God is our Creator and our Father."

"Without him, or still worse, against him," the Holy Father explained, "we men cannot find the road that leads to love, we cannot defeat the power of hate and of violence, we can never build a stable peace."

Benedict XVI invited "men of every nation and culture" to welcome "this message of light and hope": "They receive it from the hands of Mary, Mother of all humanity."

"If life is a journey, and this journey is often dark, difficult and wearisome, what star can illuminate it?" the Holy Father asked.

Citing his encyclical "Spe Salvi," published Nov. 30, the Pope spoke of Mary as the Star of Hope: "On our common voyage on the ocean of history we need 'lights of hope,' people who draw light from Christ 'and who thus offer light for our passage.'

"And who better than Mary can be for us 'Star of hope?'

"With her 'yes,' with her generous offering of the freedom received from the Creator, consented to the hope of millennia becoming reality, its entering into this world and its history. Through her God became flesh, he became one of us, he pitched his tent among us."

The Pontiff concluded his words with a prayer addressed to Mary: "Show us the way that leads to peace, the way to the Kingdom of Jesus."

At the end when the rain stopped, Benedict XVI spoke in French, addressing the pilgrims gathered in the Marian shrines of Lourdes and Fourvière in France on the occasion of the jubilee year of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary in the grotto of Massabielle.