Liturgical Season 2/12/04 World News
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Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of February with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of February.

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New Resources

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has been added to our Resources index.  The latest added was Guyana.  Expect more countries to follow.

A section on Mary and Women is now under construction in our Resources index.  The latest addition was "Women in Sacred Scripture."  Expect more articles to follow.

We have reviews of the following Marian texts: Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints; Mary in the Church: A Selection of Teaching Documents; My Soul Magnifies the Lord: A Scriptural Journey with Mary; Should We Sing of Mary on the Fourth Sunday of Easter?; La Vraie Spiritualite de Saint Grignion de Montfort; and Mary in Vietnamese Piety and Theology.

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  News from the Marian Library

International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Fall 2003 semester concluded on Nov. 14.  The schedule of future IMRI courses will be posted on the Mary Page when available.

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Current Exhibit

Golden Madonnas

Straw Appliqué Madonnas by Marian Paskowicz will be on display in the Marian Library Gallery from January 15 to February 20, 2004.   The Gallery is open 8:30 am - 4:30 pm weekdays.  A virtual exhibit may be seen on our Gallery section under Current Exhibit.  For more information, or to arrange for viewing at another time, call (937) 229-4214.

New Crèches will also be on display in our museum through November 2004.

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Personal thoughts and reflections about Mary 
from our readers 

We've added a section to our Research and Publications section showing selected personal comments from our readers about the Virgin Mary.  Click here to see comments received within the past month.  From this page, feel free to submit your own personal thoughts on Mary.  

We also encourage our readers to submit their opinions on various styles of Marian Art through an on-line art survey.

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Marian Events

The Immaculate Conception and the Life of the Church

A Theological Symposium in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception will be held on February 20-21, 2004 at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

For questions, please call 413-298-2284 or email: jp2@marian.org

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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Prayer Corner Requests

You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look!  This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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News from Around the World



Addressing the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus today, Pope John Paul focused on the February 11th celebration of the World Day of the Sick and the 150th anniversary this year of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

"This Wednesday, February 11, liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes, we will celebrate the World Day of the Sick," said the Pope, who instituted this celebration, the first one of which took place in Lourdes on February 11, 1993. He added that "the principal events this year will take place in Lourdes where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, calling herself 'the Immaculate Conception'. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed by my venerated predecessor, Blessed Pius IX, whose feast day we celebrated yesterday.

"The link between Our Lady of Lourdes and the world of suffering and illness is very well known. At the shrine which grew from the grotto of Massabielle, sick people are always the protagonists and Lourdes has become, over the years, an authentic city of life and hope. How could it be otherwise? The Immaculate Conception of Mary is, in fact, the first fruit of the redemption fulfilled by Christ and the pledge of His victory over evil.

That spring of water rising from the earth, from which the Virgin Mary asked Bernadette to drink, reminds us of the power of the Spirit of Christ Who completely heals man and gives him eternal life."

The Holy Father said he had named Cardinal Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, as his special envoy to the celebrations at Lourdes.

After reciting the Angelus, John Paul II greeted steel workers from Terni, Italy who, he said, "have come on a pilgrimage to call attention to the crisis in this great industrial sector. I cannot forget that it was precisely there, on March 19, 1981, that I paid my first visit to an Italian factory. Dear workers, as I said then, I appreciate your firm desire to 'defend your work and its dignity'. I am close to you in your present difficulties and I hope that an equitable solution can be found for you and your families."




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 X 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."


From Zenit

How Lourdes Cures Are Recognized as Miraculous

Doctors Scrutinize Each Case

LOURDES, France, FEB. 11, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Each year more than 6 million pilgrims visit the Marian shrine at the town of Lourdes, renowned for its miracle cures. But who decides when a cure is a miracle?

The Catholic Church has officially recognized 67 miracles and some 7,000 inexplicable cures since the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Lourdes in February 1858, as attested in the book "The Doctor in the Face of Miracles" ("Il medico di fronte ai miracoli"), written by the Italian Doctors Association.

Dr. Patrick Thiellier, director of the medical office established at the shrine to scientifically examine alleged cases of healing, collaborated in the book.

In 1905, Pope Pius X asked that all cases of alleged miracles or cures recorded in Lourdes be analyzed scientifically.

At the shrine's French-language Web page ( www.lourdes-france.com) the medical office explains that its objective is to be able to declare a cure "certain, definitive and medically inexplicable."

To do so, it applies four criteria:

--"the fact and the diagnosis of the illness is first of all established and correctly diagnosed";

--"the prognosis must be permanent or terminal in the short term";

--"the cure is immediate, without convalescence, complete and lasting";

--"the prescribed treatment could not be attributed to the cause of this cure or be an aid to it."

The sick who come to Lourdes with a pilgrimage group are accompanied by a doctor who is furnished with a medical file describing their present condition.

This file forms the basis from which to work when a pilgrim declares that he has been cured. The file, and the pilgrim who claims to have been cured, are presented to the medical office. A doctor based there will then gather the members of the medical profession present in Lourdes on that day who wish to participate in the examination.

No definite conclusion is given at the end of this examination. The person who claims to have been cured will be invited to meet the medical commission the following year and possibly for many subsequent years.

Finally, after many successful examinations, the file of the cure will be sent, if three-quarters of the doctors present so wish, to the Lourdes International Medical Committee.

This second level of enquiry has existed since 1947. At first it was the Lourdes National Medical Committee; in 1954 it took on the "International" name.

The committee comprises 30 specialists, surgeons and professors or heads of department, from various countries, who meet once a year. The current president is professor Jean-Louis Armand-Laroche.

It allows an assessment to continue over several years in order to observe the development of the patient.

If the International Medical Committee gives a favorable opinion, the file is then sent to the competent Church authorities.

When the file is sent to the bishop of the place where the cured person lives, the case is already recognized as extraordinary by science and medically inexplicable.

It remains for the Church, through the intermediary of the bishop, to make an announcement on the miraculous character of the cure.

To do this, the bishop gathers together a diocesan commission made up of priests, canonists and theologians. The rules that guide the procedures of this commission are those defined in 1734 by the future Pope Benedict XIV in his treatise "Concerning the Beatification and Canonization of Servants of God" (Book IV, Part I, Chapter VIII No. 2).

In sum, the rules demand that there must not be found in the cure any valid explanation, medical or scientific, natural or usual. This is the case for the cures that have taken place at Lourdes. Having established this, it remains for the diocesan commission to determine that the cure comes from God.

Furnished with conclusions reached by the commission, it is up to the bishop to make a definitive pronouncement and to suggest to his diocese and to the world that this cure is seen as a "sign from God."


John Paul II Sees Profound Link Between Mary and the Sick

A World Day Puts Focus on Lourdes

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

The observance of World Day of the Sick is an effort to rediscover the "profound relation" that exists between the Virgin Mary and the sick, says John Paul II.

Before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square today, the Pope noted that the World Day events, which culminate Wednesday, will have as their center the Marian shrine at Lourdes in France.

This year the World Day is also celebrating the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

"The close link is noted that exists between Our Lady of Lourdes and the world of suffering and illness," the Holy Father said. "In the shrine that arises near the grotto of Massabielle, the sick are always the protagonists and, in the course of the years, Lourdes has become a genuine bastion of life and hope."

He continued: "The Immaculate Conception of Mary is, in fact, the first fruit of the redemption accomplished by Christ and the pledge of his victory over evil. That spring of water gushing from the earth, which the Virgin invited Bernadette to drink, brings to mind the power of the Spirit of Christ, which heals man completely and gives him eternal life."

Finally, the Pope commended to the Blessed Virgin the events taking place in Lourdes over the next few days.

The observance of World Day of the Sick will begin Monday, when representatives of episcopal conferences will meet to promote and renew health-care ministry in Europe.

An international meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, for theological reflection on bioethical issues and on "the special relation between the Immaculate Virgin and the sick," as the Pope said during the Angelus.

The celebrations will culminate in Lourdes on Wednesday with a concelebrated Mass presided over by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, and John Paul II's special envoy to the event.

The World Day of the Sick is observed every Feb. 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, under the auspices of the pontifical council.

Book Looks at the Cures of Lourdes

ROME, FEB. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

A book, new to Italian bookstores, says the Church has officially recognized 67 miracles and some 7,000 inexplicable cures since the 1858 apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes.

"Il Medico di Fronte ai Miracoli" ("The Doctor in the Face of Miracles," St. Paul Publishers) is written by the Italian Doctors Association with the collaboration of Patrick Thiellier, director of the Medical Bureau, the center established at the French shrine to scientifically examine the alleged cases of healing.

The book, discussed today on Vatican Radio, includes the norms indicated by John Paul II governing the recognition of miracles in the causes of saints.

It also includes the "Instruction on Prayers for Healing" published in 2000 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Vatican and Germany to Issue Stamp for Youth Day

BERLIN, FEB. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Germany and Vatican City State plan to issue jointly a special stamp to celebrate the 20th World Youth Day, to be held in Cologne next year.

A spokeswoman of the Finance Ministry in Berlin confirmed the news Thursday. The stamp will be available shortly before World Youth Day, according to the KNA agency.

Some 800,000 young people are expected to attend the Aug. 16-21, 2005, event. John Paul II is scheduled to be at the closing Mass.

For 2005, the Finance Ministry has 52 special issues planned, among them, commemorative stamps of the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Berlin cathedral and of the re-consecration of the Frauenkirche in Dresden.

Our Lady of Lourdes and Those Who Suffer

Papal Reflection in Preparation for World Day of the Sick

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today praying the Angelus at midday with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Next Wednesday, February 11, liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick will be held. The principal events will take place in Lourdes itself, where Mary Most Holy appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, introducing herself as "the Immaculate Conception." This year, moreover, is the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed by my venerated predecessor, Blessed Pius IX, whose feast we celebrated yesterday.

2. The close link is noted that exists between Our Lady of Lourdes and the world of suffering and illness. In the shrine that arises near the grotto of Massabielle, the sick are always the protagonists and, in the course of the years, Lourdes has become a genuine bastion of life and hope. How could it be otherwise? The Immaculate Conception of Mary is, in fact, the first fruit of the redemption accomplished by Christ and the pledge of his victory over evil. That spring of water gushing from the earth, which the Virgin invited Bernadette to drink, brings to mind the power of the Spirit of Christ, which heals man completely and gives him eternal life.

3. May Our Lady watch over all those who will take part in the events planned at Lourdes in the next few days: the meetings on health care ministry in the countries of Europe and on the special relation between the Immaculate Virgin and the sick. Above all, let us commend to the Holy Virgin the solemn Eucharistic celebration which will be presided over by my special envoy, Cardinal Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

Encouragement on World Day of the Sick

Gospel Reveals Meaning of Suffering, Says John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave at today's general audience, on World Day of the Sick.

* * *

1. Today we go in thought to the famous Marian Shrine of Lourdes, located in the Pyrenees Mountains, which continues to attract crowds of pilgrims from all over the world, among whom are so many sick people. The principal events of this year's World Day of the Sick are taking place there, an event that, by a now consolidated custom, coincides precisely with the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes.

This shrine was chosen not only because of the intense relation that links it to the world of illness and the agents of health pastoral ministry. Thought was given to Lourdes above all because 2004 marks the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which took place on December 8, 1854. Fours years later, in 1858 in Lourdes, the Virgin Mary, appearing in the Grotto of Massabielle to Bernadette Soubirous, introduced herself as "the Immaculate Conception."

2. We now go in spiritual pilgrimage to the feet of the Immaculate Conception of Lourdes, to participate in the prayer of the clergy and faithful, and especially of the sick gathered there. The World Day of the Sick is a strong call to rediscover the important presence of those who suffer in the Christian community, and to increasingly value their precious contribution. From a simply human point of view, pain and illness might appear as an absurd reality: however, when we allow ourselves to be enlightened by the light of the Gospel, we succeed in appreciating its profound salvific meaning.

From the paradox of the Cross, I underlined in the message for today's World Day of the Sick, springs the answer to our most worrying questions. Christ suffers for us. He takes upon himself the sufferings of everyone and redeems them. Christ suffers with us, enabling us to share our pain with him. United to the suffering of Christ, human suffering becomes a means of salvation" (No. 4).

3. I now turn to all those who are feeling the weight of suffering in body and in spirit. To each of them I renew the expression of my affection and of my spiritual closeness. At the same time, I would like to remind you that human existence is always a gift of God, even when it is marked by physical sufferings of all kinds; a 'gift' to be valued by the Church and by the world.

Certainly, whoever suffers must never be left alone. In this connection, I am happy to address a word of profound appreciation to those who, with simplicity and a spirit of service, are by the side of the sick, seeking to relieve their sufferings and, insofar as possible, to free them of illness thanks to the progress of medicine. I am thinking especially of health agents, doctors, nurses, scientists and researchers, as well as hospital chaplains and volunteers. It is a great act of love to take care of those who suffer!

4. 'Sub tuum praesidium ...,' we prayed at the beginning of our meeting. 'We seek refuge under your protection,' Immaculate Virgin of Lourdes, who are for us the perfect model of creation according to the original plan of God. To you we entrust the sick, the elderly, persons who are alone: relieve the pain, dry the tears, and obtain for each one the necessary strength to accomplish the divine will.

Be the support of all those who alleviate the pains of brothers every day. And help us all to grow in knowledge of Christ, who with his death and resurrection has defeated the power of evil and death.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the following summary was read in English:]

As we remember the annual observance of the World Day of the Sick, our hearts turn to the famous Marian sanctuary of Lourdes, which continues to draw pilgrims from throughout the world and is the principal location for today's celebration. Kneeling at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes, we are spiritually united with all those who have gathered together in prayer at that holy place.

Believing that those who suffer should never be left alone, he [the Holy Father] offers a word of gratitude to all who with simplicity and a spirit of service assist the sick. He prays that through the intercession of Mary, we may grow in our knowledge of Christ who has forever conquered the power of evil and death.

[The Pope then greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at this audience, especially those from Ireland, Denmark and the United States of America. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the Lord's blessings of health and joy.

From L’Osservatore Romano

Not posted this week.

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Mary in the Secular Press

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.

Gospel Chorus [Source: The Guardian (London), 1/10/2004]

Your reviewer, Rupert Shortt ("A question of faith", December 20), writes of the story of Jesus's nativity: "almost the only substantial points on which they" (Matthew and Luke) "agree are that Joseph and the Virgin Mary travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem before Jesus's birth in a stable". Matthew's text tells us nothing of a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus, nor of a stable. Your reviewer betrays the difficulty which most people have in distinguishing what the Gospel texts say.

Canon Peter J Winstone


THE MIRACLE DETECTIVE: An Investigation of Holy Visions [Source: Kirkus Reviews, 1/15/2004]

What is a miracle? And who gets to decide? Here's a look inside the process. Sullivan's background is in true-crime reporting (Labyrinth, 2002, etc.), but when he learned of an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a Washington State trailer park, he felt compelled to investigate. Thus began a long trip that led him inevitably to the Vatican, then to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where, since 1981, the Virgin has regularly appeared to six inhabitants of the little town of Medjugorje. Sullivan describes the events surrounding the initial apparition: six Croatian children-the oldest a girl of 16-saw a shining young woman on a hill outside the town: the Virgin Mary. Word of the apparition spread rapidly, and the visionaries were soon relaying Mary's messages of love, peace, and understanding to all who would listen. In spite of oppression by the communist government of then-Yugoslavia, and harsh skepticism by the local bishop, the visions became a sensation in the Catholic world. Visiting a dozen years later, Sullivan found the country in the throes of a brutal civil war, yet Medjugorje remained a magnet for pilgrims from all corners of the world. Others came to play their parts, whether to marvel at the miracle, investigate it, or extract money from the thousands of visitors. Sullivan himself experienced a sort of vision, which he reports candidly. He examines the Medjugorge apparition from all angles, comparing it to Lourdes, Fatima, and other miraculous visions of recent times, including one in Arizona that church authorities finally rejected. The author concludes with a visit to Father Groeschel, a New York-based scholar of the miraculous whose comments put Medjugorge into context. In the end, it is clear that something powerful has happened; exactly what it is, or why it has happened, remain mysteries. Almost always absorbing and thought-provoking.

Sibling priests walk for world peace [Source: Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT), 2/1/2004]

When it comes to praying for world peace, a local Catholic priest not only talks the talk, he walks the walk.

The Rev. Matthew Bernelli, pastor of St. Mary Roman Catholic Church on the East Side, has been making old-fashioned walking pilgrimages for world peace at holy sites in Western Europe since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 2001, terrorist attacks.

They are long walks, hundreds of miles, such as the journey from Turin, Italy, to Lourdes, France.

The Italian city is where the famous Shroud of Turin is located. Lourdes is the site where children once reported they had seen visions of the Virgin Mary.

"You can curse the dark, or you can light a candle," Bernelli said recently at the St. Mary rectory, where he leads one of the city's predominantly Hispanic parishes.

The long walks are as close to old-fashioned Medieval-type pilgrimages as you can get in the modern world, Bernelli said.

"It's a silent testimony," Bernelli said of the walks. The participants don't carry signs calling for world peace and an end to terrorism, and they don't stop to address crowds about the topic.

But people get the message.

"It makes you appreciate simplicity," said Bernelli, who is 66, but has the energy and forcefulness of a much younger man.

Bernelli is known in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport for his pilgrimages, for which he trains by taking long walks throughout the region, for example from Bridgeport to Monroe, said diocesan spokesman Joseph McAleer.

McAleer said Bernelli is an inspiration in the diocese.

"Father Bernelli is one of our most energetic pastors in the Diocese of Bridgeport, in more ways than one," McAleer said. "His walks for [world peace] are an inspiration, a remarkable expression of the gospel message of reaching out to help your neighbor, no matter how high the obstacle

or, in this case, mountaintop."
That's no joke about mountaintops. The pilgrimages typically begin in mountainous northern Italy, where Bernelli's brother, the Rev. Franco Bernelli, also a Catholic priest, arranges them.

Franco Bernelli, who was visiting his brother Matthew in Bridgeport recently, said he began the walking tours after Sept. 11, 2001, because walking is something people of all ages can do together.

Previously, he said, he had arranged bicycle tours of holy sites for many years, but there are more people interested in walking. When the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred, Pope John Paul II called for creative solutions for peace, and Franco, 49, got the idea for the pilgrimages.

"It was a way in the modern era of experiencing the meaning of pilgrimage," Franco said through an interpreter. "We discovered what pilgrimages really are; they are a sacrifice."

The walks are a sacrifice because of the physical discomfort, as well as the discipline of eating lightly

on the run, so to speak. Participants pray about five times a day, typically with Rosary beads.

The travel group does not camp out, though, instead staying in hotels for the night.

Mornings begin with Mass, before 7 a.m., and the group can put in a good 20 miles a day on foot. They all wear T-shirts that proclaim to passers-by who they are and what they're doing.

They make the pilgrimages in April.

"You see the scenery and you enjoy the beauty of nature," Franco Bernelli said.

"The simplest things in life are the ones that make you happy," he said. "We're out there with a couple of sandwiches in a backpack. You don't need to bring a lot of baggage with you."

And does it really help the cause of world peace?

Well, it couldn't hurt, said Matthew Bernelli.

"If you light enough candles, you can see a light, a way out of the darkness," he said.

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