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Mary is the Ark of the Covenant

This is a translation of John Paul II's address at the end of Mass, which he celebrated on the island of Ischia, near Naples on May 5, 2002. The Holy Father spoke before reciting the Regina Caeli with some 15,000 faithful.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

A t the end of this solemn eucharistic celebration, we turn our gaze to Mary, "Tota Pulchra," the All Beautiful One, the creature through whom God came to meet humanity in the most sublime way. Mary is the Ark of the Covenant, in which earth and heaven meet: human nature and divine nature in the person of the Son of God. How many churches and chapels are dedicated to her in this splendid island of yours, gift and sign of the beauty of God! With how many titles, dear to popular piety, you invoke Mary!

C hrist's luminous countenance is reflected in her. If we follow her with docility, the Virgin leads us to Jesus. During the month of May, which has just begun, in the school and company of Mary, we can journey in a truly contemplative way through the recitation of the holy rosary. This traditional practice is undoubtedly a most valid aid to contemplate the mysteries of the life of Christ.

Speaking of the rosary, my thoughts go to the city of Pompeii, which rises at a short distance from here. In it, Blessed Bartolo Longo wished to dedicate a church to the Virgin of the Holy Rosary, which has become the Marian heart of Campania, known throughout the world. When flying over the skies of this beautiful region, I thought with devoted affection of that beloved shrine where, God willing, I hope to be able to return.

T hese days we are living the joy of Eastertide. My thoughts go to our Eastern brothers, who today celebrate, according to their calendar, the feast of Easter. With all our heart we unite ourselves to their exultation over the resurrection of Christ, praying to our common Lord so that Christians may experience soonest the joy of full unity.

I always carry in my heart the difficult situations in which not a few peoples of the world find themselves. I wish to present to the Virgin the petition for security and peace that rises insistently from so many parts, especially from the Holy Land. I invite you to pray with me to Our Lady so that these sorrowful invocations will be fulfilled.

I also entrust to Mary the peoples of Campania and, in particular, the faithful of Ischia, who honor her as "Castellana" of the island. With Mary's help, may the beloved Church of Ischia be a shining beacon of Christian faith and charity.

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