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Archive photo of Pope Francis praying the rosary at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Archive photo of Pope Francis praying the rosary at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican  (Vatican Media)

Pope: May Our Lady of Lourdes open our hearts to encounter

Pope Francis sends a video message to Catholics in Argentina who are celebrating the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Lourdes at a Shrine dedicated to her in El Challao, in the province of Mendoza.

By Linda Bordoni

February 11 is the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous. 30 years ago, Saint John Paul II instituted the World Day of the Sick on this day of the solemnity of Our Lady of Lourdes to highlight the plight of the sick and to call the attention of health institutions, civil society and all believers, to those who take care of them.

It is on this day that Pope Francis has sent a video message of participation and prayer to pilgrims gathered in Buenos Aires at a Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.

A community that goes forth

You are asking Our Lady for very great grace, he says: “Mother, help us to be a community that goes out to encounter everyone.”

Help us, he continues, to be a community that goes out to encounter others, but that also goes forth allowing ourselves to be encountered, because “encounter is mutual.”

The Pope goes on to explain that “encounter is not almsgiving, it is walking together, escaping solitude and isolation to be with others, with friends, with family, with the People of God, all together in prayer before Our Lady.”

“That is why we ask Our Lady to help us to be a community”

A moth that eats away at your heart

Repeating his prayer to Our Lady to help us to be a community, he says “Encounter always means opening up to others; the opposite of encounter is closing our hearts.”

“Mother, may our hearts not be closed, because selfishness is a moth that eats away at your heart.”

Pope Francis concludes his message assuring the pilgrims that he joins them in this celebration and prays for them.

“And I ask you, please, to pray for me,” he says, and he sends his blessing:

“May Jesus bless you very much, and may the Blessed Mother accompany you, holding your hands. Happy feast day!”

11 February 2022, 11:00