Rosary for Peace on Papal Agenda at Pompeii
During Visit to Marian Shrine
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 23, 2003 (Zenit.org)
John Paul II will pray the rosary
for world peace during his Oct. 7 visit to a Marian shrine near Naples, Italy.
According to the program of the pastoral trip, issued today by the Vatican
press office, the Pope will travel by helicopter from the Vatican to Pompeii. He
will depart Vatican City at 9 a.m. for a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of the
Rosary of Pompeii. The one-hour flight will bring the Holy Father to a heliport
set up near the archaeological ruins of the ancient city, from where he will
travel by car to Bartolo Longo Square in Pompeii.
Following his arrival at 10:30 at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of
Pompeii, the Pope will recite the rosary for peace with the faithful gathered
outside the church, and will deliver a homily. He will then recite the
supplication to Our Lady as is traditionally done every year on May 8 and in
October, when thousands of faithful gather at the Shrine for the Feast of the
Supplication to petition favors and to offer thanksgiving for favors received.
After greeting the civil and religious authorities present at the shrine, the
Pope will return to the heliport. He is scheduled to leave at 12:30 p.m. for
Vatican City, arriving one hour later. His visit to Pompeii is one of the
highlights of the Year of the Rosary, which ends Oct. 19.
New Mysteries of Rosary Help Us See the Face of God, Says Pope
Reflects on the Luminous Events of Jesus' Life
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2003 (Zenit.org)
Contemplation of the luminous mysteries of Jesus' life reveals the face of God,
says John Paul II. At today's meeting with pilgrims before the praying of the
Angelus, the Pope continued his spiritual preparation for his pilgrimage to the
Shrine of Pompeii, near Naples, on Oct. 7. The Holy Father proposed the luminous
mysteries when he convoked the Year of the Rosary last October. That year ends
this Oct. 19.
These mysteries of Christ's life, which complement the traditional joyful,
sorrowful and glorious mysteries, present key moments in Jesus' public life: his
baptism, the wedding of Cana, the proclamation of the Kingdom, the
transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and the institution of the Eucharist.
They "are instances of revelation; indeed, luminous mysteries, which
reflect the splendor of the divine nature of God in Jesus Christ," the Pope
told the pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence.
"It was the time when Jesus, with the power of the word and works,
revealed fully the face of the heavenly Father, inaugurating his Kingdom of
love, justice and peace," he said.
Noting that the rosary proposes the contemplation of the love of Christ with
the eyes of the Blessed Virgin, the papal meditation focused on the second
mystery, the wedding at Cana, where Mary's presence is more evident.
"It is she, in fact, who points out to her Son that there is no more
wine; and when he replied that 'his hour' had not yet come, she insists with
maternal urgency, saying to the servants: 'Do whatever he tells you,'" the
"In this way she shows that she intuits more than anyone else the
profound intentions of Jesus. She knows him 'heart to heart' as, from the
beginning, she kept and pondered every gesture and word of his," he added.
The "Virgin is the first and principal teacher of Christian
prayer," he said. "In her school one learns to contemplate the face of
the Lord, to assimilate his sentiments and accept his values with generous
The papal meditation ended with an exhortation: "In these last weeks of
the Year of the Rosary, let us feel ourselves more united than ever in reciting
the holy rosary, in a particular way for families and for peace in the
Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before praying
the midday Angelus with pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Continuing with my spiritual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Pompeii where,
God willing, I hope to go Oct. 7, I would like to reflect today on the mysteries
of the rosary, called the "mysteries of light." They complement the
traditional periods of the infancy, passion and glory of Christ with others,
equally important, of his "public life" [see apostolic letter
"Rosarium Virginis Mariae," 19].
It was the time when Jesus, with the power of the word and works, revealed
fully the "face" of the heavenly Father, inaugurating his Kingdom of
love, justice and peace. The baptism in the Jordan, the wedding of Cana, the
proclamation of the Kingdom, the transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and the
institution of the Eucharist are all instances of revelation; indeed,
"luminous" mysteries, which reflect the splendor of the divine nature
of God in Jesus Christ.
2. In general, the presence of Mary in these mysteries is in the background,
except for one: the wedding at Cana, where the role of the "Mother of
Jesus" is determinant. It is she, in fact, who points out to her Son that
there is no more wine; and when he replied that "his hour" had not yet
come, she insists with maternal urgency, saying to the servants: "Do
whatever he tells you" (John 2:5). In this way she shows that she intuits
more than anyone else the profound intentions of Jesus. She knows him
"heart to heart" as, from the beginning, she kept and pondered every
gesture and word of his (see Luke 2:19,51). Because of this, the Virgin is the
first and principal teacher of Christian prayer: In her school one learns to
contemplate the face of the Lord, to assimilate his sentiments and accept his
values with generous consistency.
3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us follow Christ in the way of his
mysteries of salvation with the ardent love of the Virgin Mary. In these last
weeks of the Year of the Rosary, let us feel ourselves more united than ever in
reciting the holy rosary, in a particular way for families and for peace in the
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the meeting, the Pope greeted the pilgrims in several
languages. In English, he said:]
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors who have prayed the
Angelus with us today. In a special way, on the occasion of the upcoming World
Maritime Day, I wish to extend my cordial greetings to seafarers of all nations.
May God bless you in your work, and may Our Lady, Star of the Sea, guide and
protect you and your loved ones.
The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research
Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature.
Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing
the secular press.
Believe It, Or Not [Source: The New York Times, 8/15/2003]
Today marks the Roman Catholics' Feast of the Assumption,
honoring the moment that they believe God brought the Virgin Mary into Heaven.
So here's a fact appropriate for the day: Americans are three times as likely
to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83 percent) as in evolution (28
So this day is an opportunity to look at perhaps the most fundamental divide
between America and the rest of the industrialized world: faith. Religion
remains central to American life, and is getting more so, in a way that is true
of no other industrialized country, with the possible exception of South Korea.
Americans believe, 58 percent to 40 percent, that it is necessary to believe in
God to be moral. In contrast, other developed countries overwhelmingly believe
that it is not necessary. In France, only 13 percent agree with the U.S. view.
(For details on the polls cited in this column, go to www..nytimes.com/kristofresponds.)
The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is
becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time. The percentage of
Americans who believe in the Virgin Birth actually rose five points in the
My grandfather was fairly typical of his generation: A devout and active
Presbyterian elder, he nonetheless believed firmly in evolution and regarded
the Virgin Birth as a pious legend. Those kinds of mainline Christians are
vanishing, replaced by evangelicals. Since 1960, the number of Pentecostalists
has increased fourfold, while the number of Episcopalians has dropped almost in
The result is a gulf not only between America and the rest of the
industrialized world, but a growing split at home as well. One of the most
poisonous divides is the one between intellectual and religious America.
Some liberals wear T-shirts declaring, "So Many Right-Wing Christians . .
. So Few Lions." On the other side, there are attitudes like those on a
Web site, dutyisours.com/gwbush .htm, explaining the 2000 election this way:
"God defeated armies of Philistines and others with confusion. Dimpled and
hanging chads may also be because of God's intervention on those who were
voting incorrectly. Why is GW Bush our president? It was God's choice."
The Virgin Mary is an interesting prism through which to examine America's
emphasis on faith because most Biblical scholars regard the evidence for the
Virgin Birth, and for Mary's assumption into Heaven (which was proclaimed as
Catholic dogma only in 1950), as so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap
of faith. As the Catholic theologian Hans Kung puts it in "On Being a
Christian," the Virgin Birth is a "collection of largely uncertain,
mutually contradictory, strongly legendary" narratives, an echo of virgin
birth myths that were widespread in many parts of the ancient world.
Jaroslav Pelikan, the great Yale historian and theologian, says in his book
"Mary Through the Centuries" that the earliest references to Mary
(like Mark's gospel, the first to be written, or Paul's letter to the
Galatians) don't mention anything unusual about the conception of Jesus. The
Gospels of Matthew and Luke do say Mary was a virgin, but internal evidence
suggests that that part of Luke, in particular, may have been added later by
someone else (it is written, for example, in a different kind of Greek than the
rest of that gospel).
Yet despite the lack of scientific or historical evidence, and despite the
doubts of Biblical scholars, America is so pious that not only do 91 percent of
Christians say they believe in the Virgin Birth, but so do an astonishing 47
percent of U.S. non-Christians.
I'm not denigrating anyone's beliefs. And I don't pretend to know why America
is so much more infused with religious faith than the rest of the world. But I
do think that we're in the middle of another religious Great Awakening, and
that while this may bring spiritual comfort to many, it will also mean a
growing polarization within our society.
But mostly, I'm troubled by the way the great intellectual traditions of
Catholic and Protestant churches alike are withering, leaving the scholarly and
religious worlds increasingly antagonistic. I worry partly because of the time
I've spent with self-satisfied and unquestioning mullahs and imams, for the
Islamic world is in crisis today in large part because of a similar drift away
from a rich intellectual tradition and toward the mystical. The heart is a
wonderful organ, but so is the brain.
Skeptics, believers flock to statues; Mary, Jesus figures'
eyes leave some in awe; others just scoff [Source: Plain Dealer (Cleveland,
The show starts at dusk, promised Tony Valvas, his eyes fixed
on the Blessed Virgin Mary statue affixed to the bell tower at St. Joseph the
Provider Catholic Church.
Stand at the corner of the neatly trimmed hedge next to the church's school, he
instructed. Then gaze up into the statue's eyes.
Into its glowing eyes.
"There's something happening here," said Valvas, 37, who lives two
blocks from the church. "I don't know what it is, and I can't explain it.
But there's something happening."
Is it a miracle or a mirage?
Nobody knows for sure, but plenty of people are making a pilgrimage to the
church at 633 Porter Ave. in Campbell in search of an answer.
Thousands have flocked to the town south of Youngstown since the statues on the
bell tower--the Virgin Mary to the west, Jesus Christ to the east--seemingly
flickered to life 10 days ago. The flow of faithful only increases as word
Small groups wander across the now-trampled grass outside the church during the
day, when the glow is somewhat visible. The watchers shield their eyes from the
sun as they look skyward, trying to catch a glimpse.
The throngs come at night, their parked cars clogging the streets. Many come
from more than an hour away, and they stay until all hours of the night. Last
night, about 1,000 crowded a courtyard outside the church, singing hymns and
taking pictures of the mysterious illumination.
There's a spiritual energy present among the crowd, and many go inside the
church to pray. Candles--many more than normal--provide a heavenly light
inside the chapel.
"Sometimes, God uses ordinary things to speak to us," said the Rev.
Mike Swierz, who oversees the 500-family church. "Maybe that's what this
is all about."
Apparition reports of the Virgin Mary date to the third century, according to a
Web site by the International Marian Research Institute at the University of
Sightings have spiked in recent years, according to the institute.
In June, a report that the Virgin Mary's image graced a window at Milton
Hospital south of Boston attracted more than 20,000 people on a single weekend.
"People are straining to find anything to give meaning to their
lives," said the Rev. Thomas Thompson, director of the Marian Library at
the University of Dayton. "That's why they reach out to these things. It's
a tribute to their belief."
"But few sightings qualify as miracles, and most can be explained," Thompson
said. "The image on the hospital window, for instance, is believed to be water
marks caused by a broken window seal."
Skeptics outside St. Joseph say the glow there may be related to gold leaf put
on statues in the 1970s. No investigation is planned, church officials said.
"Don't close your mind to the possibilities," Thompson said.
"But don't be gullible and naive, either."
Naysayers and believers gathered at St. Joseph yesterday. Many toted binoculars
to better view the glowing eyes and hearts on the statues. Others used
videocameras to capture the image.
A group gasped as they watched a closeup of one tape that showed what appeared
to be pupils in the eyes of both statues.
"Nobody paints eyeballs that way," said Leticia Gonzalez, 46.
Others noted what appeared to be stains underneath the statue of Jesus,
speculating that it may be blood. Valvas, for one, said the stains appeared
Even a flock of birds circling overhead attracted interest as a possible
George Mottle listened to it all shaking his head.
"If there was something here, the pope would be here right now. On his
knees," said Mottle, 59, of Boardman.
"It's just the light, an illusion," echoed his father-in-law, Harry
Dilisio, 82, who grew up in Campbell.
The woman next to them quickly chimed in.
"It's not an optical illusion," said Kathy Garchar, 46, of Struthers,
who attends St. Joseph. "It's never done this before."
Garchar is convinced she's seeing a miracle, if only in the surge of people
making the pilgrimage to her church to feed their faith.
Joanna Sims, for one, said she saw the light yesterday. The 50-year-old
Youngstown woman said the piercing statue eyes touched her soul.
Sims then quickly excused herself and headed to her car. There was no time to
talk, she said.
"I'm going home," Sims said. "I've got a Bible to read
Milk Thistle [Source: The Age (Melbourne), 8/11/2003]
Milk thistle is touted as the alcoholic's antidote. Exploited
as a liver tonic for centuries, much has been made of its ability to protect
the liver against alcoholic overindulgence and diseases such as hepatitis.
Also known as St Mary's thistle or Silybum marianum, legend has it that the
Virgin Mary spilled a drop of breast milk onto a milk thistle leaf, creating
its characteristic long, white streaks.
Historically, the root was eaten like a parsnip, the leaves like an artichoke
and the seeds were roasted to create herbal "coffee".
Today, the seeds can still be ground and infused in hot water but the herb is
normally taken in supplement form. The standard dose is 200-400 milligrams
Milk thistle has been used as a remedy for liver disorders for at least 2000
years. The Greek herbalist, Dioscorides, said milk thistle tea was the perfect
antidote for a poisonous snakebite.
In Roman times, Pliny the Elder mixed the plant juice with honey to cleanse the
body of bile - thought to induce a state of melancholy.
The English 18th-century herbalist Culpepper also reported milk thistle to be
an excellent liver tonic. He even recommended its use for breaking up liver
stones and curing jaundice.
Modern medicine, however, remains to be entirely convinced of its therapeutic
properties. A number of studies undertaken to prove its effectiveness in
tackling liver disease have been contradictory.
In 1989 a group of patients suffering from cirrhosis of the liver--some due to
long-term alcohol abuse--reported significant improvement after taking milk
But another study carried out in 1998 showed the opposite. Milk thistle
appeared to have no effect whatsoever on the patients' "pickled"
Other research has in turn proved and disproved its ability to tackle
long-standing liver disease and improve liver function.
Herbalists insist, however, that research does show milk thistle does have a
role to play in protecting the liver against chemical damage, and may help the
body to fend off the effects of viruses such as Hepatitis C.
Research carried out in Germany--the world's biggest producer of milk thistle
remedies and among the herb's most loyal consumers--indicates that it helps
the liver to cleanse itself of toxic waste and coats liver cells with a
But, like any herb, milk thistle does carry a cautionary footnote. Its ability
to increase the flow of bile from the liver means it can cause nausea and
But in small, supervised doses it is considered safe. Even breastfeeding
mothers are sometimes advised to take the herb, advised that--as its name
suggests--it promotes secretion of milk from the breast.
Cloth relic from Mexico draws hundreds to pray at Basilica;
Catholics believe cloak from 1531 was imprinted with Virgin Mary's image
[Source: The Baltimore Sun, 8/11/2003]
Miranda Pakulski wept as she left the small relic hanging from
a chain around a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Basilica of the Assumption
"I can't even begin to explain," said Pakulski, 26, of Highlandtown,
who believes the Virgin Mary helped her recover from a chronic case of hives
two years ago. "It's just so moving. It's a matter of faith."
Pakulski and about 400 others came to the Basilica yesterday to attend Mass and
see the relic, a half-inch piece of cloth from a tilma, or cloak, that Roman
Catholics believe was imprinted with Mary's image more than four centuries ago
The relic, which is on a seven-month Tilma of Tepeyac Tour of the United
States, meant different things to the dozens of Catholics who waited in line
after Mass to kneel before it. Some took photographs and were awed by the
relic's history; many prayed for forgiveness or for relatives in poor health.
Charlotte and Michael Janssen brought two foster children to see and pray over
the relic. They hoped it might help 13-year-old Gan as he battles scoliosis,
mental disabilities and other severe ailments.
"It gave me a glow, maybe we can do something for this child yet,"
said Michael Janssen as he pushed Gan in a wheelchair.
The Janssens, who drove to Florida several years ago to see what some said was
an image of the Virgin Mary in a bank window, also prayed that they might keep
8-month-old Christopher, also a foster child.
The relic dates to December 1531, when an Aztec peasant named Juan Diego passed
Tepeyac Hill, in what is now a northern neighborhood of Mexico City, on his way
According to Roman Catholic tradition, Diego suddenly heard birds singing and
saw the Virgin Mary, who asked Diego to tell the local bishop to erect a church
on the hill in her honor. The bishop told Diego that he doubted the claim and
asked for a sign. Mary appeared to Diego again and told him to gather roses
blooming on the hill and wrap them in his tilma.
When Diego opened his cloak for the bishop and others, they were not just
surprised by the roses, which were growing in the middle of winter. The bishop
and several witnesses dropped to their knees when they realized the cloak bore
an image of the Virgin Mary.
The cloak with her image is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
in Mexico City. Juan Diego was canonized last year.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese received the half-inch piece of cloak in 1941 after
the city's archbishop led a pilgrimage to the shrine. The tour is being
organized by the Apostolate for Holy Relics and is being co-sponsored by the
Knights of Columbus Supreme Council in New Haven, Conn.
Andrew Walther, vice president of the Apostolate for Holy Relics, said the
small piece of cloth has drawn hundreds of pilgrims throughout its tour. Noting
that the cloak survived a bombing attempt in the 1920s and that its
poor-quality fibers should have disintegrated years ago, Walther said,
"It's sort of miraculous from beginning to end."
Yesterday, many said they visited the Basilica to soak in that history and
feeling. "We may never get a chance to go to Mexico City," said Marie
La Valle, 75, who traveled from Annapolis with a friend to see the relic.
"This is a chance of a lifetime to see a relic and honor her."
A farewell Mass, where the relic will be on display, has been scheduled for
12:10 p.m. today at the Basilica.
Catholics hail icon of Mary ; Hondurans thank church for
charity [Source: The Houston Chronicle, 8/9/2003]
"Viva la Virgen de Suyapa!" rang out through Holy
Ghost Catholic Church in Bellaire Friday night as hundreds of Hondurans
joyously received a miraculous statuette image of the Virgin Mary, considered
the patroness of Honduras.
The visit of the image is the first outside of Honduras since it began to be
venerated in 1747. Accompanying the image was Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Madriage
"This is the first time the mother of Honduras visits the children of
another country," said Cardinal Rodriguez, a revered Latin American church
leader often mentioned as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II.
Rodriguez also said the visit was in gratitude to the Catholic Church of Texas,
which helped the Central American country after Hurricane Mitch in 1988. More
then 15,000 Hondurans were killed and the country was devastated, said Oscar
Castaneda, an officer of the Honduran Consulate in Houston.
The visit of the image is also in gratitude for the U.S. government's allowing
Hondurans to immigrate to the country to help alleviate the Central American
The visit drew hundreds of Hondurans as well as Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and
other Hispanic groups.
The virgin's image will be on display from 2 to 4 p.m. today at St. Vincent de
Paul Catholic Church and at 1 p.m. Sunday during a Mass celebrated by Cardinal
Rodriguez (SEE CLARIFICATION)
Rodriguez, who speaks seven languages, is a former president of the Latin
American bishops conference and a relentless crusader for human rights, said
Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston.
He is the first Honduran cardinal, which allows him to vote for the next pope
"He is highly influential in Latin America and one of the most influential
men in Europe," Fiorenza said.
But the feature attraction was the small half-foot image of the virgin, which
was brought into the church in a large glass enclosure.
"We feel far from our country," said Dilcia Pineda who came to see
the image. "This restores our faith. This is a great favor from the
When she learned the image was coming, Pineda said, she was emotionally
overcome, feeling joyous and hopeful.
CORRECTION-DATE: August 10, 2003
CLARIFICATION: The final appearance of the image of the Virgin of Suyapa will
be at 1 p.m. Sunday at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 625 Nottingham Oaks
Trail with a Mass to be celebrated by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga. This
story failed to mention the St. John Vianney site.
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