By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis on Tuesday sent a brief video message to the Church in Argentina, which celebrates the end of a year dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“The National Marian Year closes today,” Pope Francis noted. “A year in which, with the restrictions of this time of the pandemic, we have followed many activities in memory and honor of the Virgin, our Mother.”
“I join all the faithful who today celebrate the end of this National Marian Year,” the Pope continued. “I pray for you and ask you to pray for me.”
Our Lady: Mother and disciple
Pope Francis reminded the faithful of the qualities of Our Lady.
“And do not forget that Mary is both Mother and disciple,” Pope Francis said. “She is the Mother of Jesus; she is the one who brought Jesus into the world. And she is a disciple. She is the first to follow Jesus, to do what Jesus says, to obey.”
Imparting his blessing on the faithful, Pope Francis prayed that Mary, Mother and disciple may accompany us in our daily lives.
National Marian Year
Four hundred years ago, an indigenous Argentine discovered a statue of Our Lady in a rock niche on the side of a slope in a remote area.
The image of Our Lady bears the skin tone of the local population, and has since led to a widespread renewed devotion to the Virgen del Valle (Our Lady of the Valley), patroness of the Catamarca region where the image was discovered.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the finding of the statue, the Bishops of Argentina declared a National Marian year from 8 December 2019 to 8 December 2020. The year 2020 also marks the 500th anniversary of the first Mass offered on Argentine soil.
As part of the events marking the anniversary, 400 small grottos are being constructed in honor of Our Lady.