This same commitment motivated Bro. Cirilo Bertrán and his eight companions, Brothers of the Christian Schools of Our Lady of Covadonga College. Born in Spain, and one of them in Argentina, their lives were crowned with martyrdom in Turón (Asturias) in 1934, together with the Passionist Father, Inocencio de la Inmaculada. Not afraid to shed their blood for Christ, they conquered death and now share in the glory of God's kingdom. This is why I have the joy of enrolling them among the saints today, holding them up to the universal Church as models of Christian life and our intercessors with God.


Joined with the group of martrys of Turón is Bro. Jaime Hilario, of the same religious congregation, who was killed in Tarragona three years later. While forgiving his executioners, he said: "My friends, to die for Christ is to reign".


As witnesses recount, they all prepared for death as they had lived: with persevering prayer in a spirit of brotherhood, without hiding their religious state and with the firmness of those who know they are citizens of heaven. They are not heroes of a human war in which they did not participate, but educators of youth. Because of their state as consecrated persons and teachers, they faced their tragic destiny as an authentic testimony of faith, giving the last lesson of their life by martyrdom.


May their example and intercession touch the entire De La Salle family and the whole Church!


3. "Come O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ... for I was sick and you visited me" (Matthew 25: 34-36). These words of the Gospel proclaimed today would certainly have been familiar to Benedict Menni, a priest of the Order of St John of God. His devotion to the sick, lived according to the Hospitaller charism, guided his life.


His spirituality was born of his own experience of God's love for him. In his great devotion to the Heart of Jesus, King of heaven and earth, and to the Virgin Mary, he found the strength for his charitable service to others, especially the suffering: the elderly, children with scrofula and poliomyelitis and the mentally ill. He carried out his service to the order and to society with a humility based on hospitality and blameless integrity, which made him a model for many. He organized various initiatives, guiding some young women who formed the first nucleus of a new religious institute, and founding the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Ciempozuelos (Madrid). His spirit of prayer led him to contemplate deeply Christ's paschal mystery, the source for understanding human suffering and the path to resurrection. On this day of Christ the King, the example of St Benedict Menni's life sheds light on those who want to follow in the footsteps of the Master along the paths of welcoming hospitality.


4. "I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out (Ezekiel 34: 11). Thomas of Cori, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor, was the living image of the Good Shepherd. As a loving guide, he knew how to lead the brothers entrusted to his care towards the pastures of faith, ever inspired by the Franciscan ideal.


In the friary he showed his spirit of charity, making himself available for any need, even the humblest. He lived the kingship of love and service, according to the mind of Christ who, as today's liturgy sings, "offered his life on the altar of the Cross and redeemed the human race by this one perfect sacrifice of peace" (Preface of Christ the King).


As a genuine disciple of the "Poverello" of Assisi, St Thomas of Cori was obedient to Christ, the King of the universe. He meditated upon and incarnated in his life the Gospel requirement of poverty and of self-giving to God and neighbour. Thus his whole life appears as a sign of the Gospel, a witness to the heavenly Father's love revealed in Christ and active in the Holy Spirit for human salvation.


5. We give thanks to God who, on the paths of time, never ceases to raise up shining witnesses to his kingdom of justice and peace. May the 12 new saints, whom I have the joy today of presenting for the veneration of the People of God, show us the way to be prepared for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Indeed, it is not difficult to recognize in their example certain elements which characterize the Jubilee. I am thinking in particular of martyrdom and charity (cf. Incarnationis mysterium, nn. 12-13). More generally, today's celebration recalls the great mystery of the communion of saints, which is the basis of the other distinctive element of the Jubilee, the indulgence (cf. ibid., nn. 9-10).


The saints show us the way to the kingdom of heaven, the way of the Gospel radically lived. At the same time, they support our serene certitude that every created reality finds its fulfilment in Christ and that, through him, the world will be presented to God the Father fully renewed and reconciled in love.


May St Cirilo Bertrán with his eight Companions, St Inocencio de la Inmaculada, St Benedict Menni and St Thomas of Cori help us also to follow the way of spiritual perfection. May Mary, Queen of All Saints, whom today we contemplate in her presentation in the temple, sustain and protect us always. Following her example, may we too cooperate faithfully in the mystery of Redemption. Amen!





Sunday 21 November 1999


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. The Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe, which ends the liturgical year, has been gladdened this morning by the canonization of 12 new saints: 10 religious, one born in Argentina, who were martyred in Spain in the 1930s; St Benedict Menni, a priest of the Hospitallers of St John of God, of Italian origin but who also worked in Spain where he founded the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; and St Thomas of Cori, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor.


As I cordially greet the pilgrims who have come for this joyful event, I invite everyone to praise the Lord for the great work he has accomplished in these Gospel witnesses. I urge them in particular to contemplate the fervent devotion they had to the Mother of the Redeemer, on the day when we recall her presentation in the temple.


2. The presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the most beloved feasts of the Eastern tradition, which has also been celebrated in the West since the 14th century. Mary appears to us today as the temple in which God has placed his salvation and as the handmaid who was totally consecrated to the Lord. Each year on this day the Ecclesial Community throughout the world remembers cloistered nuns, who have embraced a totally contemplative life and live on what Providence provides for them through the generosity of the faithful. As I remind everyone of their duty not to let these consecrated sisters want for spiritual and material support, I extend my warm greeting and thanks to them.


I invite them, in particular, to love the cloister, seeing in it - as was said in the recent Instruction of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life - "an ascetical means of immense value ... especially well suited to life wholly directed to contemplation" (n. 5). Indeed, it is "the sign, the safeguard and the form of the wholly contemplative life, lived as a total gift of self" (n. 10).


3. Today is Migration Day in Italy. Migration is an important phenomenon which offers us many opportunities to do good as well as numerous challenges. I encourage those who work in this field to make the most of the human and spiritual potential of migration, as the theme suggested for this event clearly stresses: "On different roads to the one Father".


As we recite the Angelus, let us entrust to Blessed Mary, Queen of All Saints and Mother of Hope, the various prayer intentions which this Sunday offers us.


After leading the recitation of the Angelus and giving his Blessing, the Holy Father greeted the many Spanish, Argentinian and Italian pilgrims in the square.



Sunday, 24 November 2002



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King of the universe. This feast was rightly assigned to the last Sunday of the liturgical year to emphasize that Jesus Christ is the Lord of history and that in Him the whole plan of creation and redemption reaches its fulfillment.


Through the Old Covenant, in the consciousness of the people of Israel, the Messiah-King receives his form. It is God himself who, especially through the prophets, reveals to the Israelites his will to gather them as a shepherd does his flock, so that they will live in freedom and peace in the promised land. To this end, he will send his Anointed One, in Greek the "Christ", to redeem the people from sin and to introduce them into the Kingdom.


Jesus of Nazareth brings this mission to fulfillment in the Paschal Mystery. He does not come to reign as the kings of the world do but to establish the divine power of Love in the heart of the human person, of history and of the cosmos.


2. The Second Vatican Council proclaimed forcefully and clearly to the contemporary world the lordship of Christ, and its message was taken up again in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Humanity of the third millennium also needs to discover that Christ is its Saviour. This is the message that Christians should bring with renewed courage to the world of today.


In this regard, the Second Vatican Council pointed out the special responsibility of the lay faithful (cf. Decree Apostolicam actuositatem). In virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they participate in the prophetic mission of Christ. As a consequence they are called ""to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God'; they "have their own role to play in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world ... by their activity for evangelization and for the sanctification of people'" (Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, n. 46).


3. Among all the angelic and earthly creatures, God has chosen the Virgin Mary to associate her in a singular way with the kingship of her Son made man. This is what we contemplate in the last glorious mystery of the Rosary. May Mary teach us to witness with courage to the Kingdom of God and to welcome Christ as the King of our lives and of the entire universe.




St Peter's Square
Sunday, 20 November 2005

Solemnity of Christ the King



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


The Solemnity of Christ the King is celebrated today, the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. Since the announcement of his birth, the Only-begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary, was described as "king" in the Messianic sense, that is, heir to the throne of David in accordance with the Prophets' promise, for a Kingdom that would have no end (cf. Luke 1: 32-33).


The kingship of Christ remained completely hidden until he was 30 years old, years spent in an ordinary life in Nazareth. Then, during his public life, Jesus inaugurated the new Kingdom which "does not belong to this world" (John 18: 36), and finally, with his death and Resurrection, he fully established it.


Appearing to the Apostles after he had risen, he said: "Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28: 18): this power flows from the love that God manifested in its fullness in the sacrifice of his Son. The Kingdom of Christ is a gift offered to the people of every epoch so that those who believe in the incarnate Word "may not die but (may) have eternal life" (John 3: 16).

Therefore, he proclaimed precisely in the last Book of the Bible, Revelation
: "I am the Alpha and the Omega... the beginning and the end" (Revelation 22: 13).


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21 December 2014