Pope Highlights Mary as Solemnity Nears

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI presented to youth the Immaculate Virgin Mary as a guide on one's journey in life.

Before taking leave of those assembled in Paul VI Hall for the general audience, the Pope addressed a particular greeting to the youth, the sick and the newly married, in anticipation of the Dec. 8 solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

"May she guide you, dear young people, on your path of adherence to Christ," said the Pope.

Speaking afterward to the "dear sick people," some in wheelchairs, he wished that Mary might "be a support in suffering and sustain in you a renewed hope."

Finally, the Holy Father greeted the newlyweds present, some of whom came dressed in their wedding attire, and expressed his desire that they look to Mary to help them "discover more and more the love of Christ."

On Friday, Benedict XVI will preside over the traditional tribute to Mary on the eve of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in the Piazza di Spagna at 4 p.m.

That same day, the jubilee year marking the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous will begin in the French town.