Pope Prays That God Helps Him "To Fulfill The Mission Faithfully"

Address Prior to Singing of the "Regina Caeli"

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address John Paul II delivered at midday on the occasion of his 83rd birthday, before the conclusion of the canonization of four new saints.



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1. Before concluding this solemn celebration, I address a cordial greeting to you, dear Brothers and Sisters, who enriched it with your devout and joyful participation. I thank the cardinals and bishops present, the priests, and so many women religious, especially all those who belong to the institutes founded by the new Saints -- and all the faithful from Italy, Poland, and other countries.

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to each one of you for the affectionate sentiments you wished to manifest to me on this my birthday. In a special way, I thank Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who at the beginning of the Holy Mass, making himself the interpreter of common sentiments, congratulated me on behalf of all. I address deferent and grateful greetings to the Authorities, who wished to be present on this occasion. And I would like my 'thank you' to extend to those who, in so many ways, have sent congratulatory messages to me and testimonies of their esteem. I ask each and every one to continue to pray so that God will help me to fulfill faithfully the mission He has entrusted to me.

2. [Speaking in Polish, the Pope continued saying]

I wish to cordially thank my fellow countrymen for their presence in this liturgy. I am happy that our new saints have gathered such a large number of Poles here. May their protection and intercession accompany you always. I invoke this protection and intercession above all for their spiritual daughters: the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony. Dear Sisters, propagate extensively the veneration of your founders for the glory of God and the spiritual good of the faithful.

I thank Mr. President and the persons accompanying him for their eloquent presence today. I greet the Church in Poland, together with the Primate and all my fellow countrymen.

My heartfelt thanks to you for your kind remembrance and above all for your prayers for my intentions and my service to the Church. May God reward you!

3. [Speaking again in Italian, the Holy Father concluded]

We now turn to Mary, in spiritual union with the Saints just canonized, who always entrusted themselves to her with filial confidence. Grateful for the gift of life, today I again entrust to the Virgin my life and the ministry that Providence has called me to fulfill. To you, dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask that you sustain me with prayer, while I invite you to invoke the Holy Virgin with the singing of the Regina Caeli.

[Translation of the Italian and Polish original by ZENIT]