Pompei (Fides Service) – “The call of the Rosary rising from Pompei, a crossroads of people of all cultures attracted to the shrine and to the archaeological site, evokes also commitment by Christians, in collaboration with all people of good will, to be builders and witnesses of peace” said Pope John Paul from Pompei’s Marian Shrine where he went for a few hours on Tuesday 7 October, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Pope set out from the Vatican by helicopter and landed at a heliport inside the ancient Roman sports arena of ancient Pompei, where he was welcomed by local civil and religious authorities. In front of the Basilica dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary the Holy Father led the recitation of the Marian prayer, for peace in the world.
At the end of the Rosary the Pope gave a speech in which he recalled the reason for his pilgrimage: “This visit crowns in a way the Year of the Rosary. I thank the Lord for the fruits of this year which has produced a significant reawakening of the prayer, simple yet profound, which goes to the heart of the faith and is more than ever valid in the face of the challenges of the third millennium and the urgent need for new evangelisation”.
Referring to the ruins of the ancient Roman city, buried under lava and ashes in 79 AD, the Pope said the ruins pose “the decisive question on the destiny of mankind”: “Today, as in the time of ancient Pompei, it is necessary to proclaim Christ to a society which is drawing away from Christian values losing even their memory…on the backdrop of ancient Pompei, the proposal of the rosary acquires a symbolic value for renewed impulse to the Christian proclamation of our times”.
The rosary is: a “compendium of the Gospel” since it “leads us back to the main scenes of Christ's life, almost as if to help us breathe his mystery; “privileged path for contemplation” and also a particular path for peace. “We have meditated on the mysteries of the light, almost as if to project the light of Christ on the present conflicts, tensions and tragedies on all five continents – the Holy Father said -. In the apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I explained why the rosary is a prayer oriented by nature towards peace. It is such not only because it helps us invoke peace, strengthened by the intercession of Mary, but also because it helps us assimilate, together with the mystery of Jesus also his plan for peace…Blessed Bartolo Longo had a prophetic intuition when he decided to give the basilica dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary a facade as a monument to peace. The validity initiative is all the more obvious at the beginning of this millennium already shaken by winds of war, and furrowed with blood in many regions of the world”.
The Holy Father then urged the local church and community to welcome the message of peace. “Be builders of peace following the footsteps of Blessed Bartolo Longo who united prayer with action, making this Marian town, a little city of charity”. At the end of his speech the Pope prayed the Supplication to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the traditional prayer recited at Pompei and then left by helicopter for Rome. SL (Fides Service 7/10/2003 EM lines 42Words: 592)