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Liturgical Season 9/2/04 World News
New Resources  Marian Events  Mary in the Secular Press
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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 September 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 September.

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New Resources

A section on Marian Spiritualities has been added to our Resources index.  The latest addition was a paper by Brother John Samaha on Mary in Byzantine Spirituality.  Expect more articles to follow.

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

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

The Marian Library has received many valuable donations of religious art.  The most recent is a collection of the works of Alex Rapoport from his widow, Irina.  Many thanks to all our benefactors!

We have also revised the following pages: IMRI Dissertations and Kinds of Marian Icons.

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  News from the Marian Library

Alumni Update

Michael P. Duricy, webmaster for The Mary Page and IMRI graduate, was featured in U.D.'s print edition of Campus Report on 8/27/2004.

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Current Exhibit

Acts of Kindness: Posters by John Bach

A retrospective of 25 posters designed for The Marian Library Gallery Art Exhibitions over the past 15 years will be exhibited at the Marian Library through October 10, 2004.  All works are transparent watercolors.  For more information click into, Gallery.

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

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Fall 2004 semester will commence on October 18.  The course schedule through Fall 2005 is now available.

Also, Michael Duricy is scheduled to facilitate an on-line course on Mary geared to catechists which will be offered through U.D.'s Institute for Pastoral Initiatives.  The course will run from October 17 - November 20.  Registration for this course ends October 12.  For more information call 937-229-4654 or click into VLCFF.

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Marian Events

Marianist Award

Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., will receive this year's Marianist Award from the University of Dayton.  The Presentation and Address will be held at 4:30 p.m. on September 8, 2004 in the Kennedy Union Ballroom.  Cardinal Dulles will speak on "The Faith of a Theologian."  The event is open to the public.

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

From Zenit

Return of Image of Kazan Marked Progress in Relations With Orthodox Church

Interview with Cardinal Walter Kasper

MOSCOW, SEPT. 1, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is the interview of Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, given to Dr. Victor Khroul, editor-in-chief of the Russian Catholic weekly "Svet Evangelia," before his departure for Rome on August 30.

Q: Your Eminence, you were in Russia six months ago, in February 2004. Do you perceive a difference in the atmosphere between the previous visit and the current one? Is there any progress in the relations between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches?

Cardinal Kasper: My visit in February was a breakthrough: there was some hesitation on both sides, doubts regarding honesty, which were difficult to overcome. Since February, I think, we have taken a big step forward. The atmosphere now is much warmer and more cordial.

The main reason for this is also that the Holy Father himself supports the visit; he wanted it, and all the time he is spiritually with us.

So, we do have a progress. The climate is more open for further steps to be taken; it is very important for the future of our Churches, the future of Europe and for the world.

Q: Are there any evident signs of such a progress? What are your personal feelings?

Cardinal Kasper: The meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II was quite different from the very cold one I had with him in February. Now we agreed. His Holiness himself proposed that our two delegations have more meetings. He said: "When there are problems, we must resolve them immediately, otherwise they grow."

Q: Did he say this?

Cardinal Kasper: Yes, he did. This time he was very interested in having greater efforts made in solving problems. In February we decided to have a commission at the local level in order to solve concrete problems, and in May this commission had its first session in Moscow.

Q: Does this mean that the commission will work more intensively after your second meeting with the Patriarch?

Cardinal Kasper: Yes, the next meeting of the commission will be in September. And, within this commission, the Patriarch suggested that discussions be held on the possibility of having regular meetings at the higher level.

Q: At the level of the Patriarch and Pope, or at the level of bishops?

Cardinal Kasper: At the level of cardinals, metropolitan bishops (of the Orthodox Church) and bishops.

Q: Will local Catholic bishops in Russia be included as well in the negotiation process?

Cardinal Kasper: Of course, the local bishops and the archbishop of Moscow will be included.

I also suggested that if they were in agreement we could invite the delegation of the Moscow patriarchate to come to Rome and be in contact with us and our dicasteries.

So, we discussed a number of things, but did not take any decisions this time, as this was not included on our agenda.

Q: Has the date of the meeting of the joint commission been established?

Cardinal Kasper: Yes, it is scheduled for the end of September and will be announced later.

Q: What are the prospects for future relations between the Churches?

Cardinal Kasper: We will go ahead, and my hope is that Our Lady will help us. She is the main person in this meeting, not us. She knows how to make things work. She will help us attain the best future of our Churches.

However, it is also important to come together at our level. And I think this is the main difference between the meeting in February and the one in August. The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan touches people's hearts, that of normal people. So, this meeting was not just diplomatic. I hope it will greatly change the situation.

Q: Thank you, your eminence, for the Mass you celebrated in the Moscow cathedral. However, some of local Catholics told me after the Mass that they were somewhat disappointed that the icon had not been brought to the Cathedral for prayer on Friday night. They wanted very much to see the icon and pray to Our Lady of Kazan.

Cardinal Kasper: Yes, of course, I understand these reservations and regrets. But the icon was given to me to bring directly to the patriarch; we could not do otherwise. We could have done so, but decided not to, as a sign of respect for the Russian Orthodox Church.

I understand the regrets of our Catholic faithful, I would have been happy to comply, but the schedule was fixed by the Holy Father, the patriarch and the nuncio in Moscow.

Q: Local Catholics also complained that Catholics in Rome had an opportunity to see the icon of Our Lady of Kazan and pray for a whole day in St. Peters Basilica, but Moscow Catholics were not given such an opportunity; some had hard feelings.

Cardinal Kasper: I understand this, of course, but you must also understand that we have to respect the sensitivity of the other side. It also means sacrifice from Russian Catholics, it is true. I ask Catholic believers in Russia to sacrifice, to understand, that there is no forgiveness, no reconciliation without sacrifice. This is the life of the Church.

Q: During your February visit, the Moscow Orthodox seminary and academy asked you for support in the renovation of the library and implementation of some other projects. Has this support been given to our Orthodox brothers?

Cardinal Kasper: This aid has been promised by "Renovabis," and a delegation from this German organization will come to Russia next week. I also promised to send books from Rome. They have already arrived to Moscow. We will also help the seminary and academy with electronic equipment.

I hope that the exchange of professors and students will also be fruitful for both sides. Salesians and Augustinians in Rome are ready to come here to teach; it is only a question of dates and terms. After my February visit four Orthodox students came to Rome to study.

So, we are already seeing the first fruits of our talks. And we must not underestimate the climate, the atmosphere of our relations: there was distrust from the beginning, now it is much better. Our patience is needed to make it warmer and more cordial.

Q: Some time ago it was announced in the Vatican, that Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, official of the Vatican State Secretariate, has been named the Secretary of the Permanent Interdicasterial Commission for the Church in East Europe. Does it mean that this commission will work more intensively, especially in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity?

Cardinal Kasper: We are friends with Archbishop Lajolo. Formerly, he was nuncio in Germany. He is a very intelligent, open person, and I hope we will collaborate very well.

Q: Have you already discussed some problems with him?

Cardinal Kasper: We already had a very good meeting. After our visit, I hope we will meet once more to see what materialized and what can be done.

Q: Are attempts being made by your Pontifical council and the commission to update the 12-year old document on ecumenism, issued by the commission now headed by Archbishop Lajolo?

Cardinal Kasper: To date, there has been no plan for this. Such an attempt would create suspicions, so care must be taken. We will try to find other solutions.

Q: Your Eminence, did you understand the words of the patriarch and Father Vsevolod Chaplin about concrete and significant steps that the Moscow patriarchate expects from the Vatican? These steps should convince the Orthodox side of our immediate intentions to improve relations. I have already spoken to Father Chaplin about this, but his answer was very general, with no specific details. Do you understand their requests?

Cardinal Kasper: I understand that the commission we established must discuss their complaints about our so-called "proselytism." We asked for concrete facts, and will investigate their veracity, and will change if it is true. These are the only concrete steps possible.

The other question was so-called "Uniatism." It is a very difficult question, because we also have to recognize the legitimate decisions of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. But, in the meantime, the Holy Father made a very clear statement regarding this case, and for the Holy Father it was not easy.

Q: Sometimes we hear demands to withdraw missionary religious orders and congregations from Russia, to close children's centers run by Catholics. Are these demands acceptable for the Holy See?

Cardinal Kasper: Up to now we have not received such demands officially. If we are taking care of the children of the streets we can not put them back on the streets; it is impossible. The only thing we can do is to confirm once more to the Orthodox Church that we do not want to make people Catholics by force. In every case a solution can be found, which is acceptable to both sides. Take fore for example in Moscow where Catholic sisters take children to Orthodox churches every Sunday and holiday, and invite Orthodox priests to prepare children for the sacraments.

Q: Your Eminence, have you already fixed the date of your next visit to Russia?

Cardinal Kasper: No, we have not. It will depend a lot on the work of the joint Catholic-Orthodox commission in Moscow.

Return of Icon of Kazan Encourages Reconciliation

Patriarch Alexy II Sends Letter of Gratitude to Pope

MOSCOW, AUG. 31, 2004 (Zenit.org)

The gesture of returning the Icon of the Mother of God to Russia is one that encourages reconciliation, said Patriarch Alexy II in a message of gratitude to John Paul II.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican delegation formed by the Holy Father for the purpose of returning the icon to Russia, fulfilled the Pope’s mandate on Saturday in a solemn liturgy held in the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Kremlin.

"The transfer of this holy icon, brought over by your envoys, is seen by the Plentitude of the Russian Orthodox Church as both an act of the restoration of justice and an act of good will on the part of Your Holiness," the Russian patriarch stated in his letter, published on Tuesday by the Vatican press office.

The image, considered among the most precious by the Russian Orthodox, was given to John Paul II in 1993. The Blue Army, a Catholic organization dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, had acquired the image from an auction and in turn gave it to the Holy Father.

"I believe that your decision to hand over the icon points to the sincere desire to overcome the difficulties existing in relations between our two Churches," the patriarch acknowledged.

"May this event become our common contribution to the overcoming of negative consequences of the 20th century history, marked with persecution against the faith of Christ unprecedented in scale," the patriarchal letter continued.

The love that both Catholics and Orthodox feel for the Mother of God "brings us back to the times of the early Church when there were no divisions between East and West so visible, regretfully, in our days," the patriarch added.

"The Russian Orthodox Church, always, even in her most difficult moments in her relations with the Roman Catholic Church, has invariably stated her willingness to develop these relations in the spirit of sincere cooperation," Alexy II wrote.

"We see in the transfer of the Kazan icon a step in the right direction in the belief that in the future everything that is possible will be done to settle certain problems standing between our Churches," he continued.

The patriarch believes that the "preaching of Christian values to the secularized society will be successful only if all Christians fulfill the Savior's commandment of love."

"Openness in relations among Christians of various confessions presupposes respect for one another, knowledge of their common history, and sensitivity in carrying out any actions in territories where another Christian tradition has existed for centuries," he said.

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Catholic Action Looking Towards the Future

Contemplates Growth in U.S.

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2004 (Zenit.org)

"'Duc in altum' Catholic Action, Have the Courage of the Future!" is the theme of the 1st International Congress on Catholic Action held to relaunch the parish-based Catholic institution.

Italian Catholic Action is organizing the congress, which will be held in Rome and Loreto from Aug.31-Sept. 5, in cooperation with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, headed by Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko.

When presenting the event on Tuesday, the archbishop said that "the moment has arrived to re-launch Catholic Action." Speaking in the Vatican press office, Archbishop Rylko highlighted Catholic Action's progress in recent years in the dialogue with the world and society, adding that the Pope "is a great friend of Catholic Action."

Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, general assistant of Italian Catholic Action, said that "Catholic Action is a protagonist of this new spring in the Church," and that at present it is experiencing a "rebirth" and a "return to the sources and the initial charism."

Bishop Lambiasi explained that the congress and pilgrimage to Loreto will focus on the place to where it is traditionally believed that the Holy House of the Virgin Mary was transported from Nazareth in 1294. Catholic Action is going there "to listen to Mary, meet Peter, to come together again as an association, and to communicate with society."

"Mary serves to anchor God on earth: without her, Christianity would be disincarnated and would be an ideology. Ideas do not have need of a mother. Believers, on the other hand, do," he said.

"Catholic Action was born with an indispensable reference to the Pope," the bishop stressed, adding that "Catholic Action needs the Church and the Pope, just as the Church needs Catholic Action."

The Loreto meeting is intended to be "a great family experience," a "unitary event, not of a tendency but of Catholic Action in its totality," Bishop Lambiasi explained.

Moreover, Beatriz Buzzetti Thomson, coordinator of International Forum Catholic Action (IFCA) said in her address delivered in Spanish, that the "Holy Father's magisterium has pointed out in a particular way the charism of Catholic Action as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church of the third millennium."

Thomson reported that it is not present in some countries as an institution, such as in the United States. She mentioned that the U.S. bishops conference is interested "in starting Catholic Action groups at the national level."

At present, Thomson continued, there are groups in California that were established by immigrants who belonged to Catholic Action in their own countries.

Other countries that do not have organized groups of Catholic Action, but do have individuals or small groups of interested individuals, include Sierra Leone and Albania. There are also delegations of youth from Toronto, Canada, and Cologne, Germany, locations of the last and next World Youth Days, respectively.

Catholic Action dates back to 1867, the year when two youths established the Italian Catholic Youth Society, adopting as their program the motto "Prayer, Action, Sacrifice." Pope Pius IX approved the association in 1868. It was established with its present name and structure by Pope Pius XI in 1931.

Catholic Action's international congress may be followed on the IFCA website.

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2004 (Zenit.org)

With his apostolic visit to the Marian shrine of Loreto, Italy, John Paul II will participate in the first worldwide meeting of Catholic Action since Vatican Council II.

Paola Bignardi, president of Italian Catholic Action, said on Tuesday to the Vatican press office that they expect 100,000 people for the closing events.

The Holy Father will be accompanied by 177 cardinals and bishops, and 1,450 celebrant priests. The chorus and orchestra total 220 members, while 1,000 volunteers are responsible for the organization.

Among other "curiosities," Bignardi said that one million bottles of water will be distributed among the participants.

Five thousand families have been invited to Catholic Action's meeting, which will host 180 events in 105 zones of the Italian region of Marche, which will receive the pilgrims.

The organization will furnish 250,000 backpacks filled with materials and food, advertise with 16,000 posters and publish 700,000 copies of a special edition of the magazine "Loreto."

Over 2,000 buses and 15 trains will take 70,000 people to Loreto. According to tradition, the shrine, near the Italian Adriatic coast, houses the Holy House of the Virgin Mary, transported from Nazareth in 1294.

Catholic Action is present in Italy in 8,000 parishes. Its membership includes 180,000 adults, 80,000 youths and 150,000 children.

4,500 Symbolic Meters for Peace in Loreto

Sports and Prayer Included in International Congress

LORETO, Italy, AUG. 31, 2004 (Zenit.org)

In a symbolic gesture to promote peace, 45,000 people will run in the "100 Meters for Peace" race in Loreto on Thursday.

The distance between Loreto, Bethlehem and Baghdad totals 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles), and 100 meters (.06 miles) multiplied by 45,000 equals the distance separating the three cities. The race will take place in front of the Marian shrine of Loreto and intends to send a message of peace and be emblematic of uniting the three populations.

The race is one of the events on the program of Catholic Action's pilgrimage, which will culminate with John Paul II's presence in Loreto on Sept. 5.

The race is a continuation of the Jerusalem-to-Bethlehem Peace Marathon organized principally by the conference of Italian bishops in April.

"The idea is to take an intense message of peace to the whole world," said the organizers.

The race, which will be organized in the square in front of the Loreto Shrine, will take place on four streets.

For 60 hours, young people, adults, the disabled, athletes, personalities of the music world and politics and ecclesial representatives, including several bishops, will alternate in running in the race.

The initiative, which will include moments of prayer and contemplation, is sponsored by the Italian episcopal conference and the Italian Sports Center.

The "100 Meters for Peace" will include daily time for prayer, specifically for the Eastern rite Marian "Akathistos" prayer, as well as prayers and Eucharistic adoration.

The race will begin this Thursday and end on Sunday. The participants will be given a pectoral with their number on it, and will receive a symbol of peace upon finishing.

At the same time, there will be a collection for two peace projects. One will be a sports event in Ain Arik, Palestine, and the other "A House for Iraq," as a sign of solidarity with that country.

Those wishing to participate may write to the following e-mail address: promozione.sviluppo@csi-net.it.

Message From Patriarch Alexy II to John Paul II on Return of Icon of Kazan

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is the message addressed to John Paul II by His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and to the Russian People, delivered by Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Holy See's delegation that returned the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan to Russia. The text was published this Tuesday by the Vatican press office.

* * *

Your Holiness,

I wholeheartedly thank you for having handed the Kazan Icon of our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary over to the Russian Orthodox Church. On August 28, 2004, the Feast of the most glorious Dormition or the Theotokos, the representative delegation of the Roman Catholic Church led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presented us with this icon after a solemn divine service at the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin, which was overcrowded with the faithful who came on this sacred day to lift up their prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos.

The transfer of this holy icon brought over by your envoys is seen by the Plenitude of the Russian Orthodox Church as both an act of the restoration of justice and an act of good will on the part of Your Holiness. I believe that your decision to hand over the icon points to the sincere desire to overcome the difficulties existing in relations between our two Churches. May this event become our common contribution to the overcoming of negative consequences of the 20th century history marked with persecution against the faith of Christ unprecedented in scale.

The veneration of the Mother of God as "the zealous intercessor for the Christian race" (Akathistos to the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God) -the veneration common to the Orthodox and Catholic Churches -brings us back to the times of the Early Church when there were no divisions between East and West so visible, regretfully, in our days. The Russian Orthodox Church, always, even in the most difficult moments in her relations with the Roman Catholic Church, has invariably stated her willingness to develop these relations in the spirit of sincere cooperation. We see in the transfer of the Kazan Icon a step in the right direction in the belief that in the future everything that is possible will be done to settle certain problems standing between our Churches.

Good relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches, which "the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Is 9:6) calls us to realize not in words but in deeds, are extremely important for the future of Europe and the whole world. The preaching of Christian values to the secularized society will be successful only if all Christians fulfill the Savior's commandment of love: "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34). Openness in relations among Christians of various confessions presupposes respect for one another, knowledge of their common history and sensitivity in carrying out any actions in territories where another Christian tradition has existed far centuries.

Once again, I would like to thank Your Holiness from my heart for the gift and to express hope that the Most Holy Theotokos as "a swift and selfless healer of infirmities and divisions" (Akathistos to the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos) will send Her grace and mercy upon the faithful of our two Churches.

With love in the Lord,
+ Alexy II
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

[Original text: Russian. Official English translation]

Cardinal Kasper Commends Unity of Catholic and Orthodox to Virgin of Kazan

Celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Basilica before Taking Icon to Moscow

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 27, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, commended to the "powerful intercession of the Virgin of Kazan" the "important ecumenical event" represented by the return of the venerated icon to Patriarch Alexy II, as a gift of John Paul II to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Cardinal Kasper headed the delegation that left for Moscow on Friday. The image will be taken to the Kremlin's Church of the Dormition on Saturday, Aug. 28.

Over the last few years the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan has been kept in the papal apartment. Before the icon left the Vatican, the faithful were able to pray before it during a Mass on Thursday afternoon in the Vatican Basilica, at which Cardinal Kasper presided.

In the course of its journeying, which at the beginning of the last century took the icon to the other side of the Iron Curtain, the image of the Mother of God of Kazan has become a "point of reference for Orthodox and Catholics," the cardinal said during the homily.

"The Virgin has preceded us on the path of our ecumenical endeavor, has anticipated our path by gathering the two divided parts of Christianity in prayer," he added, as reported by Vatican Radio.

Inviting all the faithful to support the Vatican delegation's visit to Moscow with prayer, Cardinal Kasper said that "we ardently hope that this venerated icon, point of reference in the past for the Orthodox Church, will also be in the future a pivot of cohesion and unity for the Orthodox and Catholic faithful who petition for full unity in their prayers."

"I am convinced that, thanks to her powerful intercession, the Virgin of Kazan will be our support and our ally in our determination to surmount the reservations, difficulties, misunderstandings, and differences of faith that, sadly, still exist between us," the cardinal stressed.

"Thanks to her intercession before the throne of God, she will bring together perfectly the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church in the one Church of Christ," said the president of the dicastery, emphasizing that the return "of the icon to Patriarch Alexy II constitutes an important ecumenical event."

But for the cardinal, the icon "is also the symbol of the new Europe and of the process of the unification of the continent, to which Russia belongs culturally and religiously."

In fact, after the "two terrible wars" and "totalitarian and atheist" dictatorships of the 20th century, and "in face of the prevailing phenomenon of secularism, Europe is in need of a profound renewal in the faith," he explained.

In this connection, "the Virgin represents all the values that such a renewal implies: the dignity of the human person, the sacredness of life, the safeguarding of marriage and the family, the values of law and justice as pillars of peace. Life and the unity of the community of European peoples will be able to have stability only if they are founded on these values," he said.

In fact, the return of the icon "is a gesture that manifests the affection of the successor of Peter for the Patriarch and the synod of the Orthodox Church and the Russian people," said, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, of the Vatican Secretariat of State when presiding on Thursday at lauds in honor of the Virgin Mary, before the image of the Mother of God of Kazan in the Vatican Basilica.

The gesture also expresses "the desire and firm intention of the Pope of Rome to advance together" with the Russian Orthodox "on the path of reciprocal knowledge and reconciliation so that the full unity of the disciples of Christ will be realized as soon as possible," added the prelate, whose words were reported on Friday by L'Osservatore Romano.

"Mary always exercises an amazing fascination and attracts to herself pilgrims and faithful from all over the world. To her the Christian people, in the East and West, take recourse in every circumstance, especially in the most difficult."

Thousands of pilgrims had the opportunity on Wednesday to take leave of the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan at a solemn ceremony of farewell and veneration during the Liturgy of the Word, presided over by John Paul II in the Vatican's Paul VI auditorium.

Icon of Kazan is Symbol of Christian Unity, Says Pope

Sends Message to Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org)

The Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan is a symbol of unity between East and West, said John Paul II in a message sent to the Orthodox patriarch.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, delivered the Pope’s message and the icon to the Patriarch Alexy II on Saturday morning in the Kremlin's Cathedral of the Dormition.

"During the long years of her pilgrimage the Mother of God in her sacred icon...has gathered about her the Orthodox faithful and their Catholic brethren from other parts of the world, who have fervently prayed for the Church and the people whom she has protected down the centuries," the Pope said in his message.

The Holy Father also said that "Divine Providence made it possible for the people and the Church in Russia to recover their freedom and for the wall separating Eastern Europe from Western Europe to fall."

"Despite the division which sadly still persists between Christians, this sacred Icon appears as a symbol of the unity of the followers of the only-begotten Son of God, the one to whom she herself leads us," John Paul II noted.

This was the intention for which the Pope prayed before the icon, which he kept in his private apartment in the Vatican, "asking that the day may come when we will all be united and able to proclaim to the world, with one voice and in visible communion, the salvation of our one Lord and his triumph over the evil and impious forces which seek to damage our faith and our witness of unity."

United in prayer to the Russian Orthodox Church and all the people of the country when returning the icon, the Holy Father prayed "that this venerable image will lead us on the path of the Gospel in the footsteps of Christ, protecting the people to whom she now returns and the whole of humanity."

"May the Holy Mother of God turn her gaze toward the men and women of our time," he continued.

John Paul II concluded his prayer by asking the Virgin to "help believers not to stray from the path which God has set before them: the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the way, and the truth and the life, and a courageous testimony to their faith before society and before all the nations."

ZE04082904

"Historical" Return of Icon of Kazan to Orthodox Church

Cardinal Kasper Fulfills Pope’s Mandate

MOSCOW, AUG. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org)

The return of the Icon of the Mother of Kazan to Russia is a moment of "historical dimension" that marks a "new beginning," said Vatican Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

The Holy Father entrusted the image to a Vatican delegation on Wednesday with the mission to return it to the Russian people. He expressed then the hope that the icon would transmit to Patriarch Alexy II the Pope's affection for him, for the Russian Orthodox Church and for the spirituality it represents, as well as his firm intention to advance on the path of reciprocal knowledge and reconciliation between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, delivered the icon on Saturday. Accompanied also by Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington D.C., the papal delegation arrived on Friday to the Moscow Sheremetevo airport.

Representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and the Russian government received the delegation with a "truly very cordial welcome," said Navarro-Valls to the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

The return of the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan was accompanied by hymns and prayers in the Kremlin's Cathedral of the Dormition, where Alexy II presided at a liturgy. He emphasized that Russia is the Virgin's "home," and that the Kremlin, with its cathedral, is Russia's "heart", Vatican Radio reported.

At the end of the three-hour solemn celebration, Cardinal Kasper handed a letter and the icon in the Pontiff's name to Alexy II.

In giving the icon to the Patriarch, the Cardinal stated that John Paul II "has commissioned this delegation to return to Your Holiness in his name and, through your most reverend person, to the Russian Orthodox Church, this venerated and ancient Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan, ardently venerated by entire generations of faithful of the Russian people."

"Holiness, I place in your hands again" the icon, Cardinal Kasper said, as reported by L'Osservatore Romano.

"May the Most Holy Mother of God be the mother of your people and refuge in all your dangers and needs; may she be the mother of Europe and of the whole of humanity; may she be the mother of peace in the world; the mother of the Church and of the full unity between the East and West; may she be our common mother, our advocate, helper and aid in our pilgrimage towards a future which we hope will be reconciled and peaceful," he continued.

Cardinal Kasper recalled that the Virgin of Kazan is also venerated by Catholics, and that she gathers in prayer, despite division, the two parts of Christianity.

Patriarch Alexy II thanked the Pope for the return of the Icon. "Many images have returned that disappeared during Communism. There is a period when stones are thrown, and another when they are gathered. This is the copy of the Icon of Kazan which has had a long and difficult journey," he said.

The Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan, which in the 1920s was taken out of Russia, reappeared in the 1960s. At an international art auction in the United States, the Blue Army, a Catholic organization devoted to the Virgin of Fatima, purchased the icon. The Blue Army in turn gave it to John Paul II in 1993.

Since then, the Holy Father had kept the venerated image in his private study in the Apostolic Palace.

Reflecting on the historical consequence of the return of the Icon to Russia, Navarro-Valls, speaking on Vatican Radio, said that "perhaps in centuries to come there will be talk of this day, Saturday, Aug. 29, as the day when the Pope, by his own decision, made it possible for the Virgin of Kazan to return to her Eastern land."

"With this day there is a revival of the awareness that a new reasonable hope is opening to overcome together the difficulties, also historical, which have arisen in ten centuries. So there is a new beginning: there is no doubt about this," he stressed.

Pope’s Message to Patriarch Alexy II on Returning Icon of Kazan

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is the message, published by the Holy See on Aug. 28, which John Paul II sent to Alexy II, Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all Russians, when returning the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan to Russia. A Vatican delegation returned the image to the Orthodox patriarch on Saturday, in the Kremlin's Cathedral of the Dormition.

* * *

To His Holiness Alexy II

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

After a lengthy period of trials and sufferings endured by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian people in the last century, the Lord of history, who disposes all things in accordance with his will, today gives us common joy and hope as the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan returns to her native land.

In the joy and the sentiments of communion which I have always felt, together with my Predecessors who were ever concerned for the Russian people, I rejoice that Your Holiness today receives the Delegation which I have sent to you. Led by Cardinals Walter Kasper and Theodore Edgar McCarrick, the Delegation has been charged with consigning to you this sacred Icon, so closely linked to the faith and the history of Christians in Russia.

By a mysterious design of Divine Providence, during the long years of her pilgrimage the Mother of God in her sacred icon known as Kazanskaya has gathered about her the Orthodox faithful and their Catholic brethren from other parts of the world, who have fervently prayed for the Church and the people whom she has protected down the centuries. More recently, Divine Providence made it possible for the people and the Church in Russia to recover their freedom and for the wall separating Eastern Europe from Western Europe to fall. Despite the division which sadly still persists between Christians, this sacred Icon appears as a symbol of the unity of the followers of the Only-begotten Son of God, the One to whom she herself leads us.

The Bishop of Rome has prayed before this sacred Icon, asking that the day may come when we will all be united and able to proclaim to the world, with one voice and in visible communion, the salvation of our one Lord and his triumph over the evil and impious forces which seek to damage our faith and our witness of unity.

Today I join you in prayer, dear Brother, along with the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, the priests, monks and nuns, and the People of God in the land of Russia. United in this prayer are all the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church in their profound devotion and veneration for the Holy Mother of God. May this venerable image guide us along the path of the Gospel in the footsteps of Christ, protecting the people to whom she now returns, and all humanity. May the Holy Mother of God turn her maternal gaze towards the men and women of our time; may she help believers not to stray from the path which God has set before them: the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the way, and the truth and the life, and a courageous testimony to their faith before society and before all the nations. Today we pray with confidence to the Most Holy Virgin, knowing that she implores for us and for all nations the gift of peace.

With these sentiments of charity, in the joy of the event which we today celebrate, and with our eyes lifted to the Holy Mother of God, I exchange with Your Holiness a fraternal kiss in our Lord.

From the Vatican, 25 August 2004

IOANNES PAULUS II

Russian Catholics Ask For Opportunity to Adore Icon of Kazan

ROME, AUG. 26, 2004 (Zenit.org)

A group of parishioners of Moscow's Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral asked Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz if they could pray before the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan, before it is returned to the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow.

"It would be a great joy for us to be able to pray before a gift of the Pope, even if for a short time," one of the faithful said to AsiaNews.

On Saturday, Aug. 28, a Vatican delegation led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will hand the icon to Patriarch Alexy II as a gift of John Paul II to the Orthodox Church.

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An Icon the Pope Hoped to Deliver Personally

Papal Farewell to an Image Bound for Russia

By Delia Gallagher

ROME, AUG. 26, 2004 (Zenit.org)

This was not the way it was supposed to happen. John Paul II had a different plan in mind for the return of the Icon of Kazan to Russia—he wanted to deliver it personally to Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, as a sign of rapprochement between the two Churches divided since 1054.

Instead, on Wednesday the Pope said goodbye to the icon, at the Vatican, during an incense-filled Liturgy of the Word celebration in Paul VI Hall.

By handing the icon over to two emissaries, Cardinals Walter Kasper and Theodore McCarrick, who will take it to Russia, the Holy Father has once again shown the world an example of humility in accepting that the most cherished of man's plans are not always God's plans.

"How many times have I prayed to the Mother of God of Kazan," said John Paul II on Wednesday of the icon which has hung over his desk in the papal apartments for the past 10 years, "asking her to protect and guide the Russian people and to precipitate the moment in which all the disciples of her Son, recognizing themselves as brothers, will know how to reconstruct in fullness their compromised unity."

The icon of Kazan, a jewel-encrusted image of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, is considered the protectress of Russia and was the "carrot" in negotiations by the Vatican for a much-desired papal trip to that country.

Despite repeated Vatican efforts to arrange a meeting with Patriarch Alexy II, an invitation from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Pope never came.

In 2003, Alexy II told President Vladimir Putin that the icon at the Vatican "is one of the numerous copies but not the miracle-making icon that disappeared in the early 20th century, so there is no need for the Pontiff to deliver it himself."

Though he will not deliver himself, the Pope's generous gesture may yet have a positive effect on Orthodox-Catholic relations.

"Doubtlessly the return of the Orthodox icon to fatherland is a fair good-will act of the Vatican," a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, told Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

The date and exact provenance of the icon at the Vatican has been disputed.

According to tradition, the original icon was found on July 8, 1579, by a young Russian girl who was told by the Virgin Mary in a dream that the icon was lying under the ashes of a burnt-out building.

Copies of this icon were made in the early 16th and 17th centuries, and in 2003, a joint Russian-Vatican commission established that the icon of Kazan held in the Vatican is a late 17th- or early 18th-century work.

Although it is not the "original," the value of this icon lies also in its mysterious history -- it has traveled the world, from Russia to England, to San Francisco, New York and Fatima before "providentially," as the Pope said, ending up in the Vatican.

In 1904, one of the most venerated copies of the icon was stolen from the cathedral of Kazan in St. Petersburg and, according to expert Marguerite Peeters, the Vatican's icon could well be this one.

How the Icon got out of Russia is unknown. But it appeared at an auction in Poland after World War I and again in the 1950s at an English castle. The Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Leonty, who was living in exile in Paris, traveled to England to see the icon and declared it the original Icon of Kazan.

The icon then made another mysterious trip to the United States, probably sold after the death of the Englishman, though to whom is unknown. It was exhibited at the World's Fair in New York in 1964-65, and in the 1970s an American organization, the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, raised the money to buy the icon.

The Blue Army entrusted the icon to Fatima where John Paul II venerated it in the Byzantine Chapel there on his first visit, May 13, 1982, exactly one year after the attempt on his life.

In 1993, the Blue Army gave the icon to the Pope, to be kept in his papal apartments until it could be restored to the Russian people.

In Search of Mary's Smile

Interview With Author Rosangela Vegetti

ROME, JULY 7, 2004 (Zenit.org)

What was Mary's smile like?

This is the question Milanese journalist Rosangela Vegetti tries to address in her book "Mary's Smile," published by Ancora.

The author has specialized in ecclesial reporting from the diocesan and ecumenical perspectives and is especially concerned about women, minors and the family.

Q: What is known about Mary's smile?

Vegetti: Virtually nothing, as nothing is known either of Jesus Christ's smiles. This aspect of his life was not part of the cultural considerations of the time, nor were the Evangelists interested in shedding light on it. It is up to us to discover all the possible occasions in which a smile marked Mary's or Jesus Christ's face.

Given that Jesus' message is characterized by joy, it is not imprudent to think that both had a smiling attitude toward life.

Q: Why are there no traces of this in theology or iconography?

Vegetti: Probably because pain is a problem for us which distresses us, and the same doesn't happen with joy. For centuries, efforts have been made to find reasons for hope, for certainty in the face of the causes of suffering, with the solidaristic assistance of those who have known pain because they have experienced it.

In fact, it is not a question of there not being traces of smiles in theology. Suffice it to refer to what St. Thérèse of Lisieux said about Mary's smile. In iconography we also find works that go deeper and represent joyful and smiling expressions of Mary.

It must be said that joy is the foundation of the whole Christian message. Moreover, smiling is about the more personal, perhaps more human side. It is what one perceives while looking at the person with whom one is communicating.

A smile implies a coming closer, a familiar communication between two people. For centuries, devotions to Mary have not made easy personal knowledge of her as a human person. Instead, she has been removed from human history and made too heavenly.

Q: Were the people with whom you spoke when writing the book in agreement with presenting a smiling Virgin?

Vegetti: The people with whom I reflected on the topic were in agreement on the importance of opening an area of reflection which to date has been rather neglected.

Each one of them agreed to undertake a profound re-reading of the Gospel texts, of the traditions, and of the personal sentiments that Mary's smile stirred in them.

And, precisely because the topic is rather uncommon, each person responded with considerations that are not related to abstract schemes, but penetrated its most profound wisdom. I might say, therefore, that Mary's face has been enriched with new expressions.

Q: Is a smiling Mary a new model for women?

Vegetti: I would say that she is a new model for everyone, not just for women. She obliges every man and woman to rethink profoundly and to understand their own authentic value.

Mary transmits the feminine dimension in Christ's message, and elicits some sentiments that are specific to women and mothers throughout her whole earthly existence.

She transmitted to her Son the fundamental values of culture and education, of freedom in relations with other persons, and she educated him in the joy of being with others, of celebrating with friends, of communicating with neighbors and with distant persons.

During the banquet at the wedding of Cana, Mary makes her Son intervene with a miraculous gesture, and this is Mary's only intervention next to her Son, and she does so to guarantee the continuance of the celebration.

'Mary was able to wait until the end of her life to understand its grandeur in each moment, and she never felt discouraged or disappointed about what was happening, which could have saddened her, if we think of the promise God made to her at the beginning of her life.

'Mary is certainly a model for women who can see in her life all the small and great things that make up normal, family, and feminine life, beginning with the sense of personal dignity, tenacity in following one's path, and confidence in God's plans and not in one's own.

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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.

POSTCARD FROM ATHENS NEITHER SNOW, NOR RAIN, NOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES ... [Source: The Oregonian, 8/16/2004]

On Sunday, Athens celebrated the annual national Greek holiday called the Koimisis tis Theotokou, Dormition of the Virgin Mary, or Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The celebration commemorates what is believed to be the miraculous transport of Mary, in bodily form, to heaven after her death. But also, it means the entire city usually shuts down in observance, and everyone feasts and dances with relatives.

When I asked about the holiday, a postal clerk at the main press center produced a box of strawberry tarts she had hidden behind the counter. She'd been passing them out to other unlucky Greeks who had to work the day. "People traditionally get together with relatives, parents, grandparents on this day," said the clerk, named Panoraia. "It's a big celebration, and there's dancing to traditional music. And there's so much food." Traffic was light and businesses were closed. Nobody in Greece traditionally works on this holiday. In fact, the clerk said this was the first time she could remember anyone in her family working on Aug. 15. Blame it on the games.

John Canzano

Frail Pope bids farewell to France with 'last mass' [Source: Ottawa Citizen, 8/16/2004]

LOURDES, France--Pope John Paul preached his message of hope to a sea of pilgrims yesterday at a mass that amounted to his farewell to France. About 300,000 worshipers, many infirm, gave the Pope a rapturous reception as he presided, a hunched, immobile figure struggling with frailty, over the three-hour Feast of the Assumption mass in a field by the cliff-side shrine to the Virgin Mary.

There were tense silences followed by loud applause as the Pope, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, paused and then plowed on with a slurred, almost inaudible address in French. At one point he mumbled "Help me" and cut passages from his sermon. The relief was palpable among the ranks of cardinals, bishops and French ministers when the 84-year-old Pope ended his address.

Although the mood among the faithful at Lourdes was at times rapturous, a valedictory feeling pervaded the Pope's eighth trip to France, his second to the shrine as pontiff. His infirmity made it unlikely he could submit again to such an ordeal. Church officials made little attempt to play down the gravity of his condition. They also made clear that the Pope was not in Lourdes to seek a miracle cure.

On Saturday at the Grotto of the Apparitions, where the Virgin appeared to the 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, the Pope collapsed briefly as he knelt in prayer, overcome with emotion at the shrine he deems one of the church's dearest. A cardinal read a message in his name: "With you I share a time marked by physical suffering, yet not for that reason any less fruitful in God's wondrous plan." The Pope, a lifelong devotee of Mary, came to Lourdes as "a sick man among the sick," to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the immaculate conception by Pope Pius IX in 1854. He had visited Lourdes in 1964 as a bishop and again as Pope in 1983 to give thanks for his survival from a 1981 assassination attempt.

PASSINGS; Maria Esperanza, 75; Religious Mystic Said She Saw Virgin Mary [Source: Los Angeles Times, 8/14/2004]

Maria Esperanza, 75, a Venezuelan homemaker and religious mystic said to have had recurring visits by the Blessed Virgin Mary, died Aug. 7 at the home of friends in Ocean County, N.J. She was being treated for Parkinson's disease.

From the time of her first reported visit by Mary in Betania, Venezuela, on March 25, 1976, there have been numerous reports of miraculous cures there. After a three-year investigation by Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo of Venezuela, he referred to the site--a grotto with a waterfall--as "sacred ground" and a place of incidents "of a divine source."

Betania has attracted throngs of Roman Catholic pilgrims each year since. For some years Esperanza is said to have experienced spontaneous bleeding from her hands. Similar wounds, known as stigmata, are believed to have marked the hands, feet, side or head of several profound mystics, including St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century. The wounds recall those of Jesus Christ from his crucifixion. Born in Barrancas, Venezuela, Esperanza married Geo Bianchini Gianni in 1956. They had seven children.

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