By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto on Monday, to mark the Feast of the Annunciation.
Tradition holds that the Virgin Mary lived within the relocated walls housed in the Sanctuary, and there received the Angel’s message of the Annunciation.
Following Mass, the Holy Father spoke to the 10,000-strong crowd of the faithful gathered in the square in front of the Basilica.
Pope Francis said the Sanctuary is “a privileged place to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God,” since it is “the house of Mary.”
Many pilgrims, he said, come from around the world to the “oasis of silence and piety” to draw strength and hope, calling the Holy House of Loreto a home for the young, families, and the sick.
Home for the young
Pope Francis said it is a home for young people, because the Virgin Mary “continues to speak to new generations, accompanying each one in the search for his or her vocation.”
It was for that reason, the Pope said, that he had chosen to sign his post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on young people in Loreto. The document is entitled “Christus vivit – Christ lives”, and is the culmination of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment that was held in October 2018.
“In the event of the Annunciation the dynamic of the vocation appears, expressed in the three moments that marked the Synod: 1) listening to the Word-project of God; 2) discernment; 3) decision,” he said.
Home for families
Pope Francis said the House of Mary in Loreto is also a home for the family.
“In the delicate situation of today’s world,” he said, “the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman assumes an essential importance and mission.”
He invited Catholics to rediscover the plan traced out by God for the family and to reaffirm its central role in society.
Within those walls, the Pope said, Mary lived out the many facets that characterize family relationships, “as a daughter, fiancée, and mother,” saying that her experience shows that the Church must care for families and young people in tandem and not separately.
Home for the sick
Finally, Pope Francis said the Holy House of Loreto is a home for the sick.
“Here are welcomed those who suffer in body and spirit, and our Mother brings to all the mercy of the Lord from generation to generation.”
The Holy Father said illness wounds the family, but that the family must welcome the sick person by loving, supporting, encouraging, and caring for them.
And the Pope sent his thoughts and prayers to people around the world who suffer from various illnesses and maladies. “Your suffering can become a decisive collaboration for the coming of the Kingdom of God,” he said.
Pope Francis closed his visit to the Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto with the Angelus prayer, asking all to pray for young people, families, and the sick.