On a sunny June Sunday in Rome, Pope Benedict greeted the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus. June 24th is the feast of Saint John the Baptist and it was on this figure of the Church that the Pope spoke of before the recitation of the Marian Prayer.
"This Sunday, we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, the great saint who prepared the way for our Lord. John was a voice, crying in the wilderness, calling God’s people to repentance. Let us heed his voice today, and make room for the Lord in our hearts."
The Holy Father explained that John’s conception to Mary’s elderly cousin Elizabeth is a sign that “nothing is impossible to God”.
Pope Benedict described John the Baptist as “the forerunner of Jesus, a messenger who prepares the way for the Son of God.
Thirty years later continued the Pope, John begins baptizing people in the Jordan river, hence the name “the Baptist”. He wanted people to repent in preparation for the imminent coming of the Messiah.
God, underlined the Holy Father, had a mission for this great Saint. He was the one to Baptize Jesus and in his own violent death bore witness to the Son of God and was the first to make Jesus known publicly.
Following the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Benedict, speaking in Italian, told those gathered he was making a visit on Tuesday to the areas in Northern Italy hit by a recent earthquake. He expressed the solidarity of the whole church with those affected and he invited the faithful to pray for all those in need.