Tuesday, December 20, 2011

FIRST NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN SAINT

VATICAN CITY, 20 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father yesterday signed decrees acknowledging miracles attributed to the intervention of seven blesseds who will shortly be canonised. One of the new blesseds is Kateri Tekakwitha, the first native North American to be raised to the glory of the altars.

  Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656. Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother a Roman Catholic Algonquian who had been educated by French missionaries. At the age of four she lost her family in a smallpox epidemic which also left her disfigured and with poor eyesight. Adopted by a relative, the chief of neighbouring clan, she continued to nurture an interest in Christianity and was baptised at the age of 20.

  The members of her tribe did not understand her new religious affiliation and she was marginalised, practising physical mortification as a path of sanctity and praying for the conversion of her relatives. Having suffered persecutions which put her life at risk, she was forced to flee to a native American Christian community in Kahnawake, Quebec where she made a vow of chastity and lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance, and care for the sick and elderly. She died in 1680 at the age of 24. Her last words were: "Jesus, I love you". According to tradition, Kateri's scars disappeared after her death to reveal a woman of great beauty, and numerous sick people who participated in her funeral were miraculously healed.

  The process of canonisation began in 1884. She was declared venerable by Pius XII in 1943 and beatified by John Paul II in 1980. As the first native North American to be beatified she occupies a special place in the devotion of her people. Her feast day falls on 14 July.
OP/                                                                                                   VIS 20111220 (320)

 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vatican Christmas Tree Lighting

VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a delegation from Ukraine, the country which donated the Christmas tree decorating St. Peter's Square this year. The tree, a spruce from the Zakarpattia region 30.5 metres high and decorated with 2,500 silver- and gold-coloured baubles, will be lit this evening in the presence of Ukrainian bishops. 

  This tree, said the Holy Father, is "a significant symbol of Christ's Nativity because, with its evergreen boughs, it reminds us of enduring life. The spruce is also a sign of popular religiosity in your country, and of the Christian roots of your culture. My hope is that these roots may increasingly reinforce your national unity, favouring the promotion of authentic shared values. Over the centuries your nation has been a crossroads of different cultures, a meeting point for the spiritual richness of East and West. By tenaciously adhering to the values of the faith, may it continue to response to this unique vocation".

  The tree and nativity scene, Benedict XVI went on, "are elements of that typically Christmas atmosphere which is part our communities' spiritual heritage; a climate impregnated with religiosity and family intimacy which we must seek to conserve, even in modern societies where consumerism and the search for material goods sometimes seem to prevail. Christmas is a Christian feast and its symbols are important references to the great mystery of the incarnation and birth of Jesus, which the liturgy constantly re-evokes. The Creator of the universe, by becoming a child, came among us to share our journey; He became small to enter the heart of man and renew it with His love. Let us prepare ourselves to welcome Him with faith".
AC/                                                                                                   
VIS 20111216 (370)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Papal Remarks on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Benedict XVI greeted the pilgrims present in the hall in their various languages and noted that the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which is celebrated tomorrow, "reminds us of Mary's singular acceptance of God's salvific plan. Preserved from any stain of sin in order to be the holy dwelling place of the Incarnate Word, she always trusted fully in the Lord". The Pope especially urged the youth to make the effort to imitate the Virgin "with pure and clean hearts, letting yourselves be shaped by God who, in you as well, desires to bring about 'great things'".
AG/  VIS 20111207 (620)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

BENEDICT XVI TO LIGHT THE WORLD'S BIGGEST CHRISTMAS TREE


VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Tomorrow 7 December, Benedict XVI will switch on the lights of the biggest Christmas tree in the world, a "sign of universal peace and brotherhood among peoples" located in the Italian town of Gubbio.

  The "tree", which is made up of an arrangement of coloured lights on the side of Mount Ingino, has been erected by volunteers every year since 1981. Its base is approximately 450 metres wide and it extends for 750 metres up the hillside from the city's mediaeval walls to the basilica of St. Ubaldo. The silhouette of the tree is marked with 300 green lights, and it covers a surface area of some 130,000 square meters illuminated with 400 multicoloured lights. At the top is a comet made up of 250 lights covering an area of 1,000 square metres.

  The tree is illuminated every year on 7 December, during a traditional celebration attended by representatives of the world of culture, show business and politics. Benedict XVI will activate the illumination from his apartments in the Vatican Apostolic Palace. He will touch the screen of a Sony "Tablet" with an "Android" operating system which, via the Internet, will transmit the command to switch on the electric current to the tree.
 
  The Holy Father will be seen in Gubbio thanks to a television linkup organized by the Vatican Television Center. The event, which will be televised both nationally and internationally, is due to begin at 5.30 p.m. and the illumination of the tree will take place at 6.30 p.m.
    VIS 20111206 (270