Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo at noon on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In remarks ahead of the Angelus, the Holy Father explained that Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven at the end of the course of her earthly life – though only dogmatically defined in 1950 by Pope Pius XII – is something that Christians throughout the world have always believed, confessed and celebrated. The Pope called on all the faithful to ask Mary be the star that guides us on our way to meet her Divine Son. After the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English:
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the groups from Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we may rejoice with her in the glory of the resurrection and the fulfilment of her Son’s promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!
Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict celebrated the Mass of the Assumption at Castel Gandolfo’s parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova. “Let us,” the Holy Father prayed in his homily, “entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession, that she might ask the Lord to strengthen our belief in eternal life, help us to live well and with hope the time that God gives to us - a Christian hope,” he said, “which is not just nostalgia for Heaven, but living and active desire for God here in the world, a desire that makes us indefatigable pilgrims, feeding in us the courage and strength of faith, a fortitude that is at once the power of love.