VATICAN CITY - On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope
Francis announced that he would travel to the Marian shrine
in Mexico City and pray to Mary so that Christian communities
"may become oases and rivers of mercy."
"To ask her this, in a strong way, I will travel to venerate
her at her shrine on Feb.13. There, I will ask this for all
of America, of whom she is especially a mother," the pope
The pope made the announcement during a Dec. 12 Mass in St.
Peter's Basilica honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared
to St. Juan Diego in 1531.
In his homily, the pope said that God's merciful love is his
"most surprising attribute" and is not only manifested
through Mary but also directed toward the church and every
person. God, he said "loves us with a free love, without
limits, expecting nothing in return."
The pope said that no sin could cancel out God's mercy but
only shine forth his love with greater strength. "No matter
how great or serious the sins of the world may be, the
Spirit, who renews the face of the earth, makes possible the
miracle of a more human life, full of joy and hope," he said.
Recalling Mary's words to St. Juan Diego, the pope said the
presence of the Lord and his mother is the source of peace
and joy even in the midst of suffering.
Mary, he continued, became the "mother of mercy" after having
received in her womb "the very source of that mercy: Jesus
Christ." Entrusting the sufferings and joys of "the whole
American continent" to her, Pope Francis prayed that Mary may
"sow merciful love in the hearts of people and families"
during the jubilee year.
"I beseech her to guide the footsteps of the American people,
a pilgrim people who look for the mother of mercy, and I only
ask her one thing: to show us her son Jesus," the pope said.