In the First Letter of Peter, which we have just heard, we read that Redemption was not achieved "with perishable things such as silver or gold", but with "the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19). Awareness of the infinite value of Christ's Blood shed for us led St Agostina Livia Pietrantoni to respond to God's love with an equally generous and unconditional love, expressed in humble and faithful service to the "dear poor", as she usually called them.


Ready to make any sacrifice, a heroic witness of charity, she paid the price for fidelity to Love with her blood. May her example and intercession obtain renewed apostolic zeal for the Institute of the Sisters of Charity, who this year will celebrate the second centenary of their foundation.


5. "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent" (Luke 24:29). The two exhausted travellers begged Jesus to stay at their home and share their table.


Stay with us, risen Lord! This is also our daily longing. If you remain with us, our hearts are at peace.


Accompany us, as you did the disciples of Emmaus, on our personal and ecclesial journey.

Open our eyes, so that we can recognize the signs of your ineffable presence.


Make us docile in listening to your Spirit. Nourished each day by your Body and your Blood, we will be able to recognize you and serve you in our brothers and sisters.


Mary, Queen of Saints, help us keep our faith and hope rooted in God (cf. 1 Peter 1:21).


St Marcellin Benoît Champagnat, St Giovanni Calabria and St Agostina Livia Pietrantoni, pray for us!



Third Sunday of Easter, 18 April 1999


1. At the end of this solemn celebration, I warmly thank you all, dear faithful and pilgrims who have come to honour the new saints, whom the Church holds up as examples to follow and intercessors to call upon. Before the usual recitation of the Regina Caeli, I would like to mention the tender and filial love they had for the Virgin Mary.


St Agostina Livia Pietrantoni jealously kept an image of Our Lady at the hospital: she turned to her with faith and entrusted to her the most difficult and seriously ill. "Love, love, love Mary", St Giovanni Calabria used to tell his sons, encouraging them to "live" and "breathe" Mary.

As I urge everyone to imitate their fervent Marian devotion, I extend a special greeting to the Poor Servants and Poor Sister Servants of Divine Providence, and to the Sisters of Charity of St Joan Antida Thouret.


2. I am pleased to greet you pilgrims who have come for the canonization of Marcellin Champagnat, especially you Bishops, priests, Marist Brothers and other members of the Marist family; I also greet their students and former students.


May the Blessed Virgin Mary be for us all "our ordinary resource", as Fr Champagnat liked to say with confidence! "All for Jesus through Mary and all for Mary through Jesus"; may our Marian spirituality be inspired by the new saint's motto, so that each day we in turn can continue with humility and fidelity on the path of holiness!


3. May Mary, whom we invoke as Queen of Peace in these days of deep anxiety over the conflict in Yugoslavia, obtain the precious gift of peace, especially for that beloved suffering and tortured land. May the power of peaceful coexistence and dialogue prevail over ethnic oppression and the violence of arms!






Sunday 14 April 2002


1. "Jesus himself drew near and went with them" (Luke 24:15). As we have just heard in the Gospel, Jesus becomes a traveller joining the two disciples who were on their way to the village of Emmaus. He explained the meaning of the Scriptures to them and then, when they reached their destination, he broke the bread with them as he had done with the Apostles on the evening before his death on the cross. In that moment the disciples' eyes opened and they recognized him (cf. v. 31).


The experience of the Risen Lord at Emmaus is continually renewed in the Church. We can admire a wonderful example of the fact in the lives of those whom we have the joy of raising to the glory of the altars: the priests, Gaetano Errico, Lodovico Pavoni and Luigi Variara; the virgin María del Tránsito Cabanillas de Jesús Sacramentado; the religious brother, Artemide Zatti; the virgin, María Romero Meneses.


As did the disciples of Emmaus, the new Blesseds knew how to recognize the living presence of the Lord in the Church and, overcoming difficulties and fears, became his enthusiastic and courageous witnesses before the world.

"You were ransomed, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19). These words, taken from the second reading, make us think of Blessed Gaetano Errico, priest and founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.


In an age defined by profound political and social change, in opposition to the spiritual rigorism of the Jansenists, Gaetano Errico proclaimed the greatness of the mercy of God, who always calls to conversion those who live under the dominion of evil and sin. True martyr of the confessional, the new Blessed spent entire days giving his best energies to welcoming and listening to penitents. By his example, he urges us to rediscover the value and importance of the Sacrament of Penance, where God distributes his pardon so generously and shows the gentleness of the Father towards his weaker children.

"This Jesus God has raised him up and of that we are all witnesses" (Acts 2:32). The interior consciousness, that became a burning and invincible faith, guided the spiritual and priestly experience of Lodovico Pavoni, priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Sons of Mary Immaculate.


Gifted with a particularly sensitive spirit, he was totally given over to the care of poor and abandoned youngsters and even deaf-mutes. His activity branched out in many directions, from that of education to the publishing sector, with original apostolic intuitions and courageous innovations. At the basis of everything, there was a solid spirituality. By his example, he exhorts us to place our confidence in Jesus and to be ever more immersed in the mystery of his love.


3. "And beginning with Moses and the prophets he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24,27). With these words of the Gospel, Jesus manifested himself as companion on the road of life and our patient Master, who knows how to warm the heart and enlighten the mind so that it can understand God's plan. After the supper with Him, the disciples of Emmaus, leaving behind their sadness and confusion, ran back to the newly born Christian community to proclaim the joyful news of their having seen the Risen Lord.


This spirituality is common to the three new Blesseds who pursued sanctity under the inspiration of Don Bosco and the Salesian tradition. The raising to the altars of Don Luigi Variara, of Bro. Artemide Zatti, and of Sr María Romero is a great joy for this religious Family.

4. From Italy, and from the diocese of Asti, the
Salesian Fr Luis Variara, went to Colombia, faithful follower of the merciful Jesus and close to the suffering. From the first moment of his arrival, he dedicated his youthful energy and his many gifts to the service of the lepers. The first Salesian priest to be ordained in Colombia, he succeeded in bringing together around him a group of consecrated women, some of whom were themselves lepers or the daughters of lepers and for this reason, not welcome in other religious orders. In time, this group became the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a flourishing order that has houses in several countries.

Artemide Zatti, Salesian religious brother, left the diocese of Reggio Emilia with his family to seek a better life in Argentina, the land dreamt of by Don Bosco. There he discovered his Salesian vocation, which took the form of a passionate, competent and loving service to the sick. His almost fifty years in Viedma represent the history of an exemplary religious, careful to accomplish his duties in his community and totally devoted to the service of those in need. May his example help us to be conscious of the presence of the Lord and bring us to welcome him in all our needy brothers and sisters.

Sister María Romero Meneses, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, knew how to reflect the face of Christ which he made her recognize in the sharing of the bread. Born in Nicaragua, she received her religious formation in El Salvador and passed the greatest part of her life in Costa Rica. Those beloved Central American peoples, united in the joy of her beatification, can find in the new Blessed who loved them so much, an abundance of example and teaching to renew and confirm their Christian life, deeply rooted in their countries.

With a passionate love for God and an unlimited confidence in the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sr María Romero was an exemplary religious, apostle and mother of the poor people, who were her real favourites. May her memory be a blessing for all and may the works she founded, among which the "House of the Virgin" in San José, continue in fidelity to the ideal that led to their being started.

"Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24,32). This surprising confession of the disciples who first walked to Emmaus is what happened with the vocation of Mother María del Tránsito Cabanillas de Jesús Sacramentado, foundress of the Third Order Franciscan Missionaries and the first Argentinian woman to be beatified.


The flame that burned in her heart brought María del Tránsito to seek intimacy with Christ in the contemplative life. She was not deterred when on account of bad health she had to abandon the monasteries where she was living, but continued with a confidence and abandonment to the divine will which she followed on her constant quest. The Franciscan ideal then appeared as the true way that God wanted for her and, aided by wise directors, she undertook a life of poverty, humility, patience and charity, giving rise to a new religious family.


6. "Show us Lord the path of life" (response for the Responsorial Psalm). Let us make our own the invocation of the Responsorial Psalm, that we just sang. We need the Risen Redeemer to show us the road, to go with us on the road, and to guide us to full communion with the heavenly Father.

Show us the path of life. Only you, Lord, can show us the
true path of life, the only one who leads us to the goal, as you did for these Blessed persons who today are resplendent in the glory of Heaven.






Sunday, 14 April 2002


1. At the conclusion of this solemn liturgical celebration, we turn our gaze to the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we invoke during the Easter season with the beautiful antiphon, "Regina caeli" (Queen of heaven, rejoice). Devotion to the Virgin Mary is an integral part of the Christian life, as clearly appears in the life of the new Blesseds.

We turn to her with confidence entrusting to her in particular all those who
who are suffering in the Holy Land, from where I receive all kinds of appeals. I assure everyone of our spiritual and human solidarity while I invite all to pray so that the negotations under way to re-establish respect for persons and property and to foster the advent of a just and lasting peace will be crowned with success.

2. Now, in greeting the Spanish-speaking Bishops, civil authorities, priests, religious and faithful, especially those who have come from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia and Argentina, I am pleased to recall how the new Blesseds from South America offer also a striking example of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.


May the example of constant confidence in the Blessed Virgin help all, especially those of you who have been able to participate today in this solemn ceremony of beatification, so that in his own vocation, each one may be a true disciple of her Son.

3. Cordial greetings to the Italian-speaking pilgrims celebrating the beatification of Gaetano Errico and Lodovico Pavoni; a greeting I extend to their spiritual children of other nations and to those who honour Bl. Luigi Variara and Bl. Artemide Zatti, whom Providence transplanted from Italy to South America, so that they might bear fruit for the Kingdom of heaven.


Today the Day of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart is being observed in Italy. My best wishes go to such an important institution, that, by bringing together faith and culture, offers a precious service to the whole of society. Finally, I recall that today is the Day for Organ Donations and Transplants. I wish that the solidarity of many will give hope to the numerous patients awaiting a transplant.


Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Saint John Paul II, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us. 



St Peter's Square
Third Sunday of Easter, 6 April 2008


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


The Gospel of this Sunday - the Third of Easter - is the famous account of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24: 13-35). It tells the tale of two followers of Christ who, on the day after the Sabbath or the third day after his death, were leaving Jerusalem sad and dejected, bound for a village that was not far off called, precisely, Emmaus. They were joined on their way by the Risen Jesus but did not recognize him. Realizing that they were downhearted, he explained, drawing on the Scriptures, that the Messiah had to suffer and die in order to enter into his glory. Then entering the house with them, he sat down to eat, blessed the bread and broke it; and at that instant they recognized him but he vanished from their sight, leaving them marvelling before that broken bread, a new sign of his presence. And they both immediately headed back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples of the event.





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