VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Mary, conceived without sin, is a “masterpiece” who reflects “the beauty of God who is all love, grace and self-giving,” Pope Francis said on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square Dec. 8, Pope Francis focused on the feast day that celebrates how Mary was conceived in the womb of St. Ann without original sin.
(See a related video.)
Several hours after the noon prayer, the pope joined thousands of people near the Spanish Steps in central Rome to pay homage to the Immaculate Conception at a Marian statue atop a tall column. The statue was erected in 1857 to commemorate Pope Pius IX’s declaration three years earlier of the dogma that Mary was conceived without sin.
Early in the morning each Dec. 8, Rome firefighters using a truck and tall ladder, hang a ring of flowers from the statue’s outstretched arm. Throughout the day, individuals and organizations leave flowers at the base of the statue.
As is his custom, Pope Francis did not read a speech by the statue but recited a prayer he wrote for the occasion.
Nine days before his 83rd birthday, the pope told Mary that “the further we go on in life, the more our gratitude to God increases for having given us sinners a mother like you.”
“You, Mother, remind us that yes, we are sinners, but we are no longer slaves to sin,” he said.
The pope offered special prayers for everyone in Rome or around the world who feels oppressed, burdened and discouraged by their sins, those “who think that there is no longer hope for them, that their faults are too many and too great and that God certainly has no time to waste on them.”
Mary is a mother who “never stops loving her children,” he said. And in the darkest night and in the darkest souls, she can reflect the light of Christ, who alone “breaks the chains of evil, liberates from the strongest dependencies, dissolves the most criminal bonds, softens the most hardened hearts.”
Earlier, in his address before the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis said that God always wanted Mary to be “full of grace, that is, full of his love.”
When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would bear God’s son, she “didn’t lose herself in all sorts of arguments,” Pope Francis said. “She immediately put her whole being and her whole personal story at God’s disposition.”
“Corresponding perfectly to God’s plan for her, Mary became the ‘all beautiful,’ ‘all holy,’ but without the slightest shadow of self-satisfaction,” the pope said. “She is humble. She is a masterpiece, but remains humble, small, poor. In her is reflected the beauty of God who is all love, grace and self-giving.”
Pope Francis prayed that the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception would “help us make our whole lives a ‘yes’ to God, a ‘yes’ comprised of adoration of him and daily gestures of love and service” to those in need.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Australian government revising religious discrimination legislation
NEXT: Catholic NGOs can boost efforts with formation, pope says
Share this story