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Pope Francis prays the Rosary in the Chapel of the Apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, with young people who are sick and several prison inmates, and reminds pilgrims that Mary always reaches out to us and shows us the way.
By Lisa Zengarini
Mary always comes to our aid “in haste” and shows us the way forward for our lives. Pope Francis offered this reminder on Saturday as he addressed some 200,000 pilgrims gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, where he travelled from Lisbon to pray for peace in the world and for young people on the fourth day of his Apostolic Journey to Portugal.
The Pope led the recitation of the Rosary with a group of around 100 young sick people and several prison inmates in the Chapel of the Apparitions and prayed silently in front of Our Lady of Fatima, placing a golden Rosary at her feet.
The Church has no doors
Pope Francis started his address, after the recitation of the Mysteries which were read in several languages, by noting that the Chapel of the Apparitions offers “a beautiful image” of a welcoming and open Church.
“The Church has no doors, so that everyone can enter,” he said. “A mother always has an open heart for all her children, everyone, everyone, everyone, without exclusion,” he insisted.
Mary always rushes to us
Then, speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis focused on how Mary was “the first one to make a pilgrimage” after the Annunciation.
As soon as she found out that her elderly cousin Elisabeth was pregnant, “she left in haste”, as the Gospel tells us, said the Pope. “Mary always rushes to us whenever there is a problem,” he said. “Every time we call on her, she comes to us; she hurries to be close to us, because she is our Mother.”
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Mary shows the way: follow Jesus
Similarly, she accompanies the life of Jesus and, after His Resurrection, continues to accompany the disciples as they await the Holy Spirit, and the Church after Pentecost.
But, Pope Francis remarked, Mary is never the center-of-attention: while welcoming us all, she also points to Jesus, telling us to follow Him: “Do what He tells you,” she says.
“Every time we come here (to Fatima), we must remember this: Mary made herself present here in a special way, so that the disbelief of so many hearts would open up to Jesus, with her presence she points us to Jesus.”
Pope Francis concluded by inviting the pilgrims present in the esplanade of the Cova da Iria to look to Mary and ask themselves what is she pointing us to and what Jesus is asking of us.
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