As many as 40-thousand pilgrims gathered at the Esplanade of the Shrine of Fatima to pray the rosary with Pope Benedict XVI. A sea of candles pierced the dark Fatima sky as the Holy Father led in the recitation of the glorious mysteries. He was providing an excellent witness of prayer; an act that he has stressed the importance of in the first two days of his visit.
Just before the rosary, and just after blessing the candles, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims, encouraging them to let Mary's words "Let it be done to me" resound in our lives. His message not only focused on the importance of reciting the rosary (and our Blessed Mother's request to repeatedly
do this), but he also spoke of the importance of freedom to worship and freedom to religion, and the importance of being witnesses to our faith:
In our time, in which the faith in many places seems like a light in danger of being snuffed out for ever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God. And not to any god, but to the God who had spoken on Sinai; the God whose face we recognize in the love borne to the very end (cf. Jn 13:1) in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.
The Pontiff also offered a call to peace asking for Mary to intercede for us, that:
... the family of nations, both those called Christians and those who do not yet know the Saviour, may live in peace and harmony, in order that they come together as the one people of God, to the glory of the most holy and indivisible Trinity.
See the full address below:
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF POPE BENEDICT XVI TO PORTUGAL
RECITATION OF THE HOLY ROSARY
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Chapel of Apparitions, Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima
All of you, standing together with lighted candles in your hands, seem like a sea of light around this simple chapel, lovingly built to the honour of the Mother of God and our mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light. However, neither Mary nor we have a light of our own: we receive it from Jesus. His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us (cf. Ex 3:2-5). We are merely a bush, but one upon which the glory of God has now come down. To him therefore be every glory, and to us the humble confession of our nothingness and the unworthy adoration of the divine plan which will be fulfilled when “God will be all in all” (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). The matchless servant of that plan was the Virgin full of grace: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
Our coverage of day three of the Holy Father's trip to Portugal features Mass from the Shrine of Fatima, beginning at 5am ET.
CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo