As the world turns its attention to Beijing for the Olympics, Pope Benedict XVI made a timely visit to the town of Oies.
The town is not only a short distance from Bressanone, where the Pontiff is vacationing, but it is the birthplace of Saint Josef Freinademetz
The saint was a Divine Word missionary who traveled to Hong Kong in 1879 and worked among the Chinese people, dying there of typhus nearly thirty years later.
Noting the growing world presence of China, Pope Benedict said: “It is important that this great country should open itself to the Gospel.” He then cited the example of Saint Josef Freinademetz, "[He] shows us that faith is not an alienation for any culture or any people, because all cultures are waiting for Christ, and are not destroyed by the Lord, but rather come to their maturity."
The Holy Father noted Saint Josef’s love for the Chinese people saying he not only wanted to live and die as Chinese, but "wanted to remain Chinese even in heaven". Adding "he truly identified himself with this people, and with the certainty that this people would open itself to faith in Jesus Christ".
Visiting the saint’s childhood home, the Holy Father wrote in the the visitor book: "May the Lord, through the intercession of Saint Josef Freinademetz, give many spiritual vocations and increasingly open China to faith in Jesus Christ".
A noble prayer and something to keep in mind over the next few weeks.