More than 60,000 gather
for Pope's 'Regina caeli' today
VATICAN CITY, May 3 (AGI) - More than 60,000 people gathered today in St. Peter's Square for the noontime Regina caeli led by the Pope, causing him to do this from his study window as usual, instead of on the front steps of the Basilica, as he usually does when the Angelus or Regina caeli follows a Papal Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
He started his pre-prayer message with an apology for arriving 15 minutes late. This was in part because the preceding ordination event in the Basilica lasted longer than planned, as Benedict XVI took time afterwards to greet the new priests and their families individually.
"I am late because we have just finished celebrating the ordination of 19 new priests, for which we are very happy," the Pope said, to enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
Here is what he said in English after the prayers:
The only pictures available so far are the thumbnails from Vatican Radio which cannot be enlarged much more than they are above..
As usual, the wire-service stories completely ignored the Pope;s homily at the Ordination Mass, preferring to rely on the English-language synthesis contained in the Vatican handout. The AFP story below typifies what the other wire services reported:
Pope asks faithful to pray
To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Regina Caeli, I extend a warm welcome. I pray that as you follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, you will grow ever closer to the Risen Lord and share his Gospel with all those you encounter.
This Friday I leave for my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where men and women first heard the voice of the Good Shepherd. I ask you all to join me in praying for the afflicted peoples of that region. In a special way I ask that you remember the Palestinian people who have endured great hardship and suffering.
May the Lord bless them and all those who live in the Holy Land with the gifts of unity and peace. Upon all of you visiting Rome during this Easter Season, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
for 'afflicted' Middle East
as he prepares to leave for
the Holy Land on Friday
VATICAN CITY, May 3 (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday he was travelling to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories this week to ask God to bless all those who live in the Holy Land with the gifts of unity and peace.
"This Friday I leave for my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where men and women first heard the voice of the Good Shepherd," the head of the Roman Catholic Church said after his traditional Angelus [Regina caeli
"I ask you all to join me in praying for the afflicted peoples of that region.
"In a special way I ask that you remember the Palestinian people who have endured great hardship and suffering.
"May the Lord bless them and all those who live in the Holy Land with the gifts of unity and peace."
Benedict XVI will travel to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories May 8-15.
He will thus become only the third Pope after Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 2000 to visit what Christians, Jews and Muslims refer to as the Holy Land.
On Saturday, he said he was going to the Middle East as a pilgrim of peace in a region plagued by violence and injustice, mistrust, uncertainty and fear.
THE POPE'S MESSAGES TODAY
Dear brothers and sisters:
I am late because we have just finished celebrating the ordination of 19 new priests, for which we are very happy.
[The original sentence in the written text was:
We concluded shortly before now the Eucharistic celebration at St. Peter's Basilica during which I consecrated 19 new priests of the Diocese of Rome.]
Once more, I chose this fourth Sunday of Easter, for such a happy event, because it is characterized by the Gospel on the Good Shepherd (cfr Jn 10,1-18), and thus offers a particularly appropriate context.
For the same reason, the Church marks today the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In my annual message for this occasion, I proposed "Faith in God's initiative and the human response' as the theme for reflection.
Indeed, trust in the Lord, who continuously calls all of us to holiness and some in particular to a special consecration, is expressed in prayer. Both individually and in community, we must pray hard for vocations, so that the grandeur and beauty of God may attract more to follow Christ on the path of priesthood and the consecrated life.
We must pray also for saintly couples who are capable of showing their children, by example most of all, the high horizons towards which they must project their freedom.
The saints, male and female, whom the Church proposes for the veneration of all the faithful, testify to the mature fruit of that linkage between divine calling and the human response. Let us entrust our prayers for vocations to their heavenly intercession.
There is another intention which today I ask you all to pray for: the trip to the Holy Land which I will undertake, God willing, from Friday May 8, to Sunday, May 15.
In the footsteps of my venerated predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II, I will be a pilgrim to the principal holy places of our faith.
I hope, with this visit, to confirm and encourage the Christians of the Holy Land who must daily face not a few difficulties. As Successor of Peter, I will make them feel the closeness and the support of the entire body of the Church.
Moreover, I will be making a pilgrimage of peace, in the name of the one God who is the Father of all. I will bear witness to the commitment of the Catholic Church to all those who strive to carry out dialog and reconciliation in order to reach a stable and lasting peace in justice and reciprocal respect.
Finally, this trip cannot but have a noteworthy ecumenical and inter-religious significance. Jerusalem is, from this point of view, the city-symbol par excellence: there, Christ died in order to reunite all the dispersed children of God (cfr Jn 11,52).
Turning now to the Virgin Mary, we invoke her as the Mother of the Good Shepherd so that she may watch over the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, and so that in all the world, numerous holy vocations
of special consecration to the Kingdom of God may flourish.
After the prayers, he had special words for the Spanish-speaking pilgrims:
I affectionately greet the Spanish-speaking faithful who are taking part in this Marian prayer. I wish to express my closeness and assure my prayers for the victims of the influenza virus that is affecting Mexico and other nations.
Dear brothers in Mexico, stay firm in the Lord - he will help you overcome this difficulty. I ask you to pray as a family during this time of trial. May our Lady of Guadalupe assist and protect you always.
In Polish, he had a special greeting for pilgrims gathered in Jasna Gora:
I join in spirit the bishops and faithful gathered in Jasna Gora who, today, with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone presiding, render glory to Mary, Queen of Poland.
I pray that the Mother of Christ protect the Church in Poland, that she may teach and help all to do what her Son says, and to ask for all the nation the gift of peace and everything good. God bless you.