Having conceived without sin, Mary is a “masterpiece” who reflects “the beauty of God,” and offers hope to sinners Pope Francis said during his weekly Angelus address and prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Dec. 8 during the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Pope Francis focused his address on the feast day that celebrates how Mary was conceived in the womb of St. Ann without original sin, reported CNS.
A few hours later, the pope joined a throng of people near the Spanish Steps in Rome to pay homage to a Marian statue on a 12-metre high ancient Roman column.
The statue was erected in 1857 to mark Pope Pius IX’s 1854 declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, stating that Mary is the only human being who was born without original sin.
Every year on Dec. 8, a local fireman hangs a garland of flowers from the statue’s outstretched arm, while flowers were left at the base of the statue by worshippers throughout the day.
Pope Francis recited a prayer he wrote for the event at the foot of the monument.
“The further we go on in life, the more our gratitude to God increases for having given us sinners a mother like you,” he told Mary.
“You, Mother, remind us that yes, we are sinners, but we are no longer slaves to sin,” he said.
The pope offered special prayers to the world’s sinners who “think that there is no longer hope for them, that their faults are too many and too great and that God certainly has no time to waste on them.”
Mary is a mother who “never stops loving her children,” he said. Amid the darkest hours and among the darkest souls she reflects the light of Jesus, who “breaks the chains of evil, liberates from the strongest dependencies, dissolves the most criminal bonds, softens the most hardened hearts.”
Before reciting the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis said God had wanted Mary to be “full of grace, that is, full of his love.”
“Corresponding perfectly to God’s plan for her, Mary became the ‘all beautiful,’ ‘all holy,’ but without the slightest shadow of self-satisfaction,” the pope said.
“She is humble. She is a masterpiece, but remains humble, small, poor. In her is reflected the beauty of God who is all love, grace and self-giving,” he said.
The pope said he hoped the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception would inspire people into “daily gestures of love and service” to those in need.