· The Holy Father celebrates Mass at the Monastery of Mater Ecclesiae ·
On Tuesday morning, 14 December, the liturgical Memorial of St John of the Cross and the day concluding the Fourth Centenary of the Order of the Visitation, Benedict XVI concelebrated Holy Mass at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. In 1994 Pope John Paul II established a monastic community of contemplative women religious within the Vatican to lend their prayerful support to the Holy Father. A different religious order takes up residence every five years. The seven Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary succeeded the Benedictine Community in 2009.
In his Homily, Benedict XVI commented on several topics of the thought of St John of the Cross whom he described as the Saint of the Paschal Mystery. “In the centre of his life”, the Pope said, “was the Cross, which he deeply loved. In living the Cross”, the Holy Father added, “this Saint understood that the Cross is love and that it is in its mystery that the mystery of love is brought about”. He emphasized that the Christian mystery is unique.
At the end of the Mass, Sr Maria Begoña Sancho Herrera, Superior of the Community, on behalf of the Visitandines throughout the world presented to the Pope a silver cross from Annecy — like the ones the nuns wear — containing relics of St Francis de Sales, of St Jane de Chantal and of St Margaret Mary Alacoque. The Superior also presented to the Pope sacred articles to give to poor churches: 400 albs, 400 cinctures, 600 purificators, 900 rosaries, 400 copies of the Introduction to the Devout Life (in French) by Francis de Sales and 2,800 scapulars of the Sacred Heart.
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