Pope Sends Greetings to Monks of Monte Cassino

Cardinal Poupard Presides Over Mass in Abbey

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MONTE CASSINO, Italy, MARCH 21, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican official conveyed the Pope's greetings to the Benedictine monks of Monte Cassino as they celebrated a day for their founder, St. Benedict, the Holy Father's namesake.



Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue, conveyed Benedict XVI's greetings today to the monks of the historic monastery 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of Rome.

The Pope "has asked me to express to you his closeness in prayer, his spiritual participation in this celebration and his profound and continuous interest in the destiny of Europe and of the peoples who comprise it," the cardinal said during a Mass.

St. Benedict (c. 480-543) was proclaimed patron of Europe in 1964 by Pope Paul VI.

Although the Church celebrates the feast of St. Benedict on July 11, the Benedictine order celebrates his "birth" in heaven on the first day of spring.

The father of Western monasticism, St. Benedict wrote his monastic Rule, still in use today, in the Abbey of Monte Cassino, which he founded. The Rule has been one of the fundamental instruments for the evangelization and making of Christian civilization in Europe.

In his homily, Cardinal Poupard recalled that the saint made a reality "the new law of Christ, accepted with an authentically Christian spirit," namely, "the law of love, which touches man's heart to make it truly great and worthy of friendship with his Creator."

The cardinal added that the saint's "secret" is summarized in the Rule's expression, "Prefer nothing to the love of Christ."

This phrase, Cardinal Poupard stressed, "must touch the heart of every one, of all Christians and, I would say, of every citizen of Europe."