VATICAN CITY, FEB 11, 2004 (VIS) - Today, liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes and 12th World Day of the Sick, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, celebrated Mass at 4:30 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica for the ill and for the pilgrims of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi and UNITALSI. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, Pope John Paul came to the basilica to bless the sick and speak to them and those who care for them.
"With great affection I greet you," said the Pope. "Since this morning my prayers have been dedicated in a special way to you and now I am delighted to meet with you." He noted that "20 years ago, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I published the Apostolic Letter 'Salvifici doloris' on the Christian meaning of human suffering. I chose that date thinking of the special message that the Virgin imparted from Lourdes to the sick and suffering."
He pointed out that today especially we think of Mary and the Lourdes grotto, "where the words 'I am the Immaculate Conception' are written' . because in this basilica, 150 years ago Blessed Pope Pius XI solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, . a truth which introduces us to the heart of the mystery of creation and the Redemption."
"Looking at Mary," added the Holy Father, "our hearts are open to hope because we see the great things that God realizes when, with humility, we open ourselves to fulfilling His will. Mary Immaculate is a stupendous sign of the victory of life over death, of love over sin, of salvation over every type of sickness of body and spirit. . May contemplating this ineffable mystery fill you with comfort, dear sick people; may it illuminate your work, dear doctors, nurses and health care workers; and may it sustain your precious activity, dear volunteers, as you are called to recognize and serve Jesus in every needy person."
AC/WORLD DAY SICK/RUINI VIS 20040212 (340)