Pope to Pray for World at Feet of Our Lady

Says He Visits France as a Messenger of Peace

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will pray at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes for the Church, the sick and for peace in the world when he visits the Marian shrine this weekend.



The Pope said this at the end of today's general audience in a message directed to the people of France. The Pope will travel Friday-Monday to Paris and Lourdes. His visit to the Marian shrine takes place in the context of the 150th anniversary of apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous.

"I go as a messenger of peace and fraternity," he said in the message. "Your country is not unknown to me. On several occasions I have had the joy to visit it and to appreciate its generous tradition of hospitality and tolerance, as well as the solidity of its Christian faith and its lofty human and spiritual culture."

The Pontiff underlined that he is traveling to France to visit Lourdes as a pilgrim: "After visiting Paris, your country's capital, I will have the great joy to join the crowd of pilgrims who are going to follow the stages of the jubilee journey, after St. Bernadette, to the Massabielle grotto.

"My prayer will intensify at the feet of Our Lady for the intentions of the whole Church, in particular for the sick, the abandoned, as well as for peace in the world."

"May Mary be for all of you," he added, "in particular for young people, the Mother always attentive to the needs of her children, a light of hope that illuminates and guides your ways."

"I invite you to join me in prayer," the Holy Father said, "so that this trip will bring abundant fruits."