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Pope Francis pays homage to Our Lady of Bonaria in Sardinia
Pope Francis on Sunday paid a day-long visit to Cagliari, the capital of the Island of Sardinia in Italy. On his arrival, the Holy Father met with workers encouraging them not to lose hope in the midst of the difficulties they are facing as a result of the economic crisis which has led to many of them losing their jobs. Pope Francis told the crowd, many of whom wore hardhats from their defunct factory jobs, that the problems in Sardinia and other places were the result of a global economic system ``that has at its center an idol called money.'' The pope later celebrated mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria and led the noon prayer of the angelus. After mass, the Holy Father had lunch with Sardinia’s bishops in the Pontifical Seminary of the region. His afternoon engagements saw him meeting with the poor and some detainees in the Cathedral of Cagliari, followed by his meeting with representatives of the world of Culture. His final encounter for the day was with the youth.
This is his second pastoral visit in Italy, after the one in the island Lampedusa where thousands of migrants arrive each year by sea. The Pope announced in one of the general audiences in May his intention to visit the Marian Shrine of Bonaria or “Good Air” because his hometown of Buenos Aires was named after Our Lady of Bonaria.
Below, please find the Vatican Radio’s translation of the Holy Father’s homily at the Mass:
[In Sardinian:] The grace of our Lord be with you always.
[In Italian:] Today is realised that desire that I announced in St. Peter's Square, before the summer, to be able to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria.
1. I come here to share with you the joys and hopes, efforts and commitments, ideals and aspirations of your island, and to confirm you in the Faith. Even here in Cagliari, as in the whole of Sardinia, there are difficulties — there are so many! — problems and concerns: I think, in particular, of the lack of work and its precariousness, and therefore the uncertainty for the future. Sardinia, your beautiful region, suffers many situations of poverty, exacerbated by its condition as an island. The loyal cooperation of everyone is necessary, with the commitment of institutional leaders — even in the Church — to ensure the fundamental rights of persons and families, and to grow more fraternal and united. To ensure the right to work, to bring home bread, bread earned by work! I am close to you, I remember you in prayer, and I encourage you to persevere in your witness of the human and Christian values so deeply rooted in the faith and history of this land and the people. Always keep alight the light of hope!
2. I come among you to place myself, with you, at the feet of the Madonna, who gives us his Son. I know that Mary, our Mother, is in your heart, as evidenced by the Shrine, where many generations of Sardinians have come - and continue to come! - To invoke the protection of Our Lady of Bonaria, the Great Patroness of the Island. Here you bring the joys and sufferings of this land, of its families, and even of those children who live far away, many of whom went away with great sorrow and nostalgia to find a job and a future for themselves and their loved ones. Today, all of us gathered here want to thank Mary because she is always close to us; we want to renew our trust in her, and our love for her.
The first reading which we heard shows us Mary in prayer in the Upper Room together with the Apostles. Mary prays, prays together with the community of disciples, and teaches us to have full confidence in God, in His mercy. This is the power of prayer! We must not tire of knocking on the God’s door. Let us bring our whole life, every day, to the heart of God through Mary! Knock at the door of the heart of God.
In the Gospel we grasp especially the last look of Jesus upon His Mother (cf. Jn 19:25-27). From the Cross Jesus looks at His Mother and entrusted the apostle John to her, saying, “This is your son.” In John we're all here, too, and Jesus’ look of love entrusts us to the maternal guardianship of the mother. Mary will have remembered another look of love, when she was a young girl: the gaze of God the Father, who had looked upon her humility, her littleness. Mary teaches us that God does not abandon us, [that God] can do great things even with our weakness. Let us have faith in Him! Let us knock at the door of His heart!
3. And the third thought: today I have come among you, indeed we have all come together, to meet the gaze of Mary, because there, there is something like a reflection of the gaze of the Father, which made her the Mother of God, and the look of the Son on the Cross, which made her our Mother. And with that gaze Mary is looking upon us today. We need her tender look, her maternal gaze that knows us better than anyone else, her gaze full of compassion and care. Mary, today we want to say to you: Mother, look upon us! Your gaze leads us to God, your look is a good gift from the Father, who awaits us at every turn of our journey; it is a gift from Jesus Christ on the Cross, who takes upon Himself our suffering, our struggles, our sin. And in order to meet this loving Father, today we say: Mother, look upon us! Let us all say it together: Mother, look upon us! Mother, look upon us!
On the journey, which is often difficult, we are not alone, we are so many, we are one people, and the gaze of Our Lady helps us to look around us in a brotherly manner. Let's look at ourselves in a more fraternal way! Mary teaches us to have that look that seeks to welcome, to guide, to protect. We learn to look at each other under the maternal gaze of Mary! There are people who we instinctively give less attention to, people who instead have most need of it: the most abandoned, the sick, those who have nothing to live on, those who do not know Jesus, young people who are in trouble, the young who can’t find work. We should not be afraid to go out and look at our brothers and sisters through the eyes of Our Lady, She invites us to be true brothers. And we do not allow anything or anyone to come between us and the gaze of the Madonna. Mother, look upon us! No one hide from it! Our childlike heart knows to defend it from so many windbags who promise illusions; from those who have a greedy look for easy life, from the promises of those who can’t fulfil them. They can’t steal Mary’s gaze from us, which is full of tenderness, which gives us strength, makes us united in solidarity among ourselves. Let us all say, “Mother, look upon us! Mother, look upon us! Mother, look upon us!”
[In Sardinian:] May Our Lady of Bonaria accompany you always in your life.
Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website