In an emotive homage to the image of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza de Spagna, in the heart of Rome, the Pope entrusted to the Blessed Virgin the future of the Church. The day also marked the 40th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council.
\"I bring the anxieties and hopes of humanity of our time and place them at the feet of the heavenly Mother of the Redeemer,\" he began, in his tribute to the Mother of God.
More than 10,000 people from Rome and abroad attended the floral homage that Benedict XVI dedicated to Mary, following the tradition of his predecessors on this public holiday.
\"Yes, we wish to thank you, Virgin Mother of God and our most beloved Mother, for your intercession for the Church,\" the Pope said.
He prayed in particular to the Mother of God \"that we might feel her closeness in every instant of life, above all in moments of darkness and trial.\"