Saturday, 6 July 2013

In the Vatican Gardens

Pope Benedict (seated) listens to Pope Francis
at the ceremony on Friday 5th July
in the Vatican Gardens. 
As announced by Vatican Radio:

To the joy of Vatican City State workers, Friday morning Pope Francis was joined by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the gardens for a ceremony during which the Holy Father blessed a statue of St Michael Archangel, at the same time consecrating the Vatican to the Archangel’s protection.

Following a brief ceremony, Pope Francis addressed those present noting how St. Michael defends the People of God from its enemy par excellence, the devil. He said even if the devil attempts to disfigure the face of the Archangel and thus the face of humanity, St Michael wins, because God acts in him and is stronger:

Pope Francis greeting Pope Benedict
before the ceremony.
As is obvious from the photographs
Pope Benedict looks quite well.
In the Vatican Gardens there are several works of art. But this, which has now been added, takes on particular importance, in its location as well as the meaning it expresses. In fact it is not just celebratory work but an invitation to reflection and prayer, that fits well into the Year of Faith. Michael - which means "Who is like God" - is the champion of the primacy of God, of His transcendence and power. Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all by the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins because in him, there is He God who acts. This sculpture reminds us then that evil is overcome, the accuser is unmasked, his head crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the blood of Christ. Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger, it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men. We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him. "

"We also consecrate Vatican City State in St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus, the guardian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us stronger and more courageous in making space for God in our lives to always defeat evil with good. We ask Him to protect, take care of us, so that a life of grace grows stro
nger in each of us every day. 


Pope Francis and Pope Benedict pictured together
on Friday morning in the Vatican Gardens.

This was the first public appearance of the two Popes together and we do hope it will not be the last!  Contrary to "inside" views about his rapidly deteriorating health, Pope Benedict appeared very well and was obviously delighted to be present for the Dedication of Saint Michael's statue. Pope Benedict's attendance had not been anticipated: he was present at the personal invitation of Pope Francis.

Prayer to Michael the Archangel :

Blessed Michael the Archangel,defend us in the hour of conflict.
Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil:
may God restrain him, we humbly pray.
And do thou, O prince of the Heavenly Host, 
by the power of God thrust down Satan into hell 
and with him the other wicked spirits 
who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.