2. Today the light that appeared on Christmas extends its rays:  it is the light of God's epiphany. It is no longer only the shepherds of Bethlehem who see and follow it; it is also the Magi Kings, who came to Jerusalem from the East to adore the new-born King (cf. Matthew 2: 1-12). With the Magi came the nations, which begin their journey to the divine Light.


Today the Church celebrates this saving Epiphany by listening to the description of it in Matthew's Gospel. The well-known account of the Magi, who came from the East in search of the One who was to be born, has always inspired popular piety as well, becoming a traditional part of the crib.

Epiphany is both an event and a symbol. The event is described in detail by the Evangelist. The symbolic meaning, however, was gradually discovered as the Church reflected more and more on the event and celebrated it liturgically.


3. After 2,000 years, wherever Epiphany is celebrated, the Ecclesial Community draws from this precious liturgical and spiritual tradition ever new points for reflection.


Here in Rome, in accordance with a custom to which I have wanted to remain faithful since the beginning of my Pontificate, we celebrate this mystery by consecrating new Bishops. It is a tradition that has its own intrinsic theological and pastoral eloquence, and today we joyfully introduce it into the third millennium.


Dear Brothers who will shortly be consecrated, you come from various nations and represent the universality of the Church which adores the Word made flesh for our salvation. Thus the words of the responsorial psalm are fulfilled:  Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.


Our liturgical assembly expresses this catholic nature of the Church in a remarkable way, thanks also to you, dear Bishops-elect. For around you are gathered in spirit the faithful from various parts of the world to whom you have been sent as successors of the Apostles.


4. Some of you will carry out the mission of Apostolic Nuncios:  you, Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, in Bolivia; you, Archbishop Giacomo Guido Ottonello, in Panama; you, Archbishop George Panikulam, in Honduras; and you, Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, in The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. You will be papal representatives in these countries at the service of the local Churches and of the authentic human progress of their respective peoples.

You, Bishop Ivo Baldi, will lead the Diocese of Huaraz, Peru. You, Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi, have been chosen as Coadjutor Bishop of Lwena, Angola; and you, Bishop David Laurin Ricken, as Coadjutor Bishop of Cheyenne in the United States of America.


Episcopal ordination will confirm and strengthen you, Bishop Anton Cosa, in your service as Apostolic Administrator of Moldova, and you, Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto, as Apostolic Administrator of the Caucasus.


You, Bishop András Veres, will be Auxiliary Bishop to the Archbishop of Eger, Hungary; and you, Bishop Péter Erdo, will be Auxiliary to the Pastor of Székesfehérvár.


As for you, Bishop Franco Croci, you will continue your work as Secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.


Be ever mindful of the grace of this Epiphany day! May the light of Christ always shine in your hearts and your pastoral ministry.


5. Today's liturgy urges us to be joyful. There is a reason for this:  the light that shone from the Christmas star to lead the Magi from the East to Bethlehem continues to guide all the peoples and nations of the world on the same journey.


Let us give thanks for the men and women who have made this journey during the past 2,000 years. Let us praise Christ, Lumen gentium, who guided them and continues to guide the nations down the path of history!


To him, the Lord of time, God from God, Light from Light, we confidently address our prayer.

May his star, the Epiphany star, continually shine in our hearts, showing to individuals and nations the way of truth, love and peace in the third millennium. Amen.



Thursday, 6 January 2000
Solemnity of the Epiphany



Dear Brothers and Sisters!


1. Today's Gospel speaks about the Magi who, guided by a star, came from the East to adore Jesus in Bethlehem. It is the Epiphany of Christ, that is, his manifestation to all peoples. The Messiah is born of David's lineage, thus fulfilling the prophets' promises, but his message of salvation is universal: the glory of Israel and light for all peoples (cf. Luke 2: 32).


Today's solemnity therefore reveals the universal vocation of the Church, which is called to reflect the light of the Lord on her face. In this liturgical and spiritual context, I ordained 12 new Bishops this morning from various countries of the world. As I again offer them my fervent good wishes, I invite you to pray that in their ministry they may always be authentic witnesses to the Gospel and wise and generous leaders of God's People.


2. My thoughts now turn to the Christian East, where my brothers in faith, the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches, live and proclaim the Gospel: in Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Romania, Georgia and every other land where these Churches sing the praises of the Word of God made man. I would like to name them one by one, while expressing the ardent hope that the light of Christ, whose birth they are celebrating at this time, will give them in abundance all that can strengthen the proclamation of the one Gospel of salvation.


To the Orthodox Churches and to the Eastern Catholic Churches which celebrate Christ's birth tomorrow, I wish a Happy Christmas in the words of a troparion well known to them: "Your birth, O Christ our God, made the light of truth shine in the world ... Guided by a star they came to adore you, the sun of justice, and to acknowledge you, the heavenly dawn. O Lord, glory to you".

3. Thinking of all the Churches of the Christian East, I offer them my wishes for prosperity and joy. I do so while participating in spirit in the song of their Liturgies and sharing in the many gifts the Lord has lavished on their traditions and which enrich the Church of Christ.


At the beginning of this new year, as we fervently observe the Great Jubilee, we entrust to Mary, the "Morning Star", the Church's evangelizing mission and the journey of Christians toward the full unity desired by our Redeemer.



After praying the Angelus the Holy Father said:


I extend a warm greeting to you, dear faithful who have come for the ordination of the new Bishops, and I cordially bless the Ecclesial Communities to which you belong.


I greet the participants in the "Viva la Befana" folkloric parade, which follows that of last Sunday's Magi Kings on route to Cori and Giulianello. These initiatives remind everyone of the value of pilgrimages, the symbol of the journey of conversion and an essential element of the Jubilee.

I would especially like to mention the young people of Ischia, gathered in the cathedral for a diocesan jubilee celebration and joined to us by radio and television. Dear young people, I affectionately greet you and your Pastor, Bishop Filippo Strofaldi. May the visit of the World Youth Day pilgrim Cross to your beautiful island strengthen all of you in the faith and joy of being the Lord's disciples. I await you in Rome for the Great Jubilee of young people next August.



Solemnity of the Epiphany

Saturday, 6 January 2001



1. “All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!” This acclamation from the Responsorial Psalm expresses very well the meaning of the Solemnity of the Epiphany which we are celebrating today. It also sheds light on today’s rite of the closing of the Holy Door.


“All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!” This is a vision which speaks to us of the future, it makes us look far ahead. There is an evocation of the ancient messianic prophecy, which will fully come to pass when Christ the Saviour returns in glory at the end of history. However the prophecy has had a first fulfilment, which is both historical and prophetic, when the Wise Men came to Bethlehem, bearing their gifts. Here was the beginning of the manifestation of Christ – his “epiphany” precisely – to those who represented the peoples of the world.


This is a prophecy which is being fulfilled by degrees in the course of time, according as the Gospel proclamation penetrates the hearts of people and is planted in every part of the world. Was not the Great Jubilee a kind of epiphany? By coming here to Rome or by going on pilgrimage elsewhere in the many Jubilee Churches, countless individuals in a sense set out in the footsteps of the Wise Men in search of Jesus. The Holy Door is simply the symbol of the meeting with him. It is Christ who is the true “Holy Door”; it is he who makes it possible for us to enter the Father’s house and who introduces us into the intimacy of the divine life.


2. “All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!” Here especially, in the centre of Catholicism, the impressive flow of pilgrims from all continents have given us this year a vivid image of the journey of the world’s peoples towards Christ. All kinds of people came, all with the desire to contemplate the face of Christ and to obtain his mercy.


“Christ yesterday and today / the beginning and the end / Alpha and Omega; / all time belongs to him, / and all the ages; / to him be glory and power / through every age for ever (Liturgy of the Easter Vigil). Yes, this is the hymn that the Jubilee, in the evocative context of the transition to the new millennium, wished to raise to Christ, Lord of history, two thousand years after his birth. Today this extraordinary year officially closes, but the spiritual gifts poured out during the year remain; the great “year of the Lord’s favour”, which Christ began in the Synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Luke 4:18-19) and which will endure to the end of time, continues.


While today we close the Holy Door, a “symbol of Christ”, the Heart of Jesus remains more open than ever. He continues to say to a humanity in need of hope and meaning: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Apart from the numerous celebrations and initiatives which have marked it, the great legacy which the Jubilee leaves us is the living and consoling experience of “meeting Christ”.


3. Today, I wish to express the gratitude and praise of the whole Church. For this reason, at the end of this celebration, we shall sing a solemn Te Deum of thanksgiving. The Lord has worked marvels for us, he has filled us with his mercy. Today we must make our own the happiness which filled the Wise Men on their journey to Christ: “When they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy(Matthew 2:10). Above all, we must imitate them as they place at the Child’s feet not only their gifts but also their lives.


For the sake of her children and all humanity, the Church has sought in this Jubilee year to be more resolute in fulfilling the role which the star fulfilled in guiding the Wise Men on their journey. The Church lives not for herself, but for Christ. She wants to be the “star”, the point of reference which helps people find the path which leads to him.


The theology of the Fathers loved to speak of the Church as mysterium lunae, in order to emphasize that, like the moon, she shines not with her own light, but reflects Christ, who is her Sun. And I gladly recall that this is how the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church begins: “Christ is the light of the nations, lumen gentium!And the Council Fathers went on to express their burning desire to “enlighten all people with the light of Christ reflected on the face of the Church” (No. 1).


Mysterium lunae: the Great Jubilee has enabled the Church to live with special intensity this vocation of hers. It is to Christ that she has pointed in this year of grace, echoing once more the words of Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” (John 6:68).


4. “All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!The universality of the call of the nations to Christ has been made more strikingly evident this year. People of every continent and language have come together in this Square. Countless voices have been raised here in song, as a symphony of praise and a proclamation of brotherhood.


Of course I cannot mention at this moment all the many different gatherings that have taken place. But I remember the children who opened the Jubilee with their abounding sense of celebration, and the young people who conquered Rome with their enthusiasm and the earnestness of their witness. I think of the families, who presented a message of faithfulness and communion, so necessary in our world, and of the elderly, the sick and the handicapped, who offered such an eloquent testimony of Christian hope. I think of the Jubilee of those in the world of culture and learning who are daily engaged in the search for truth.


The pilgrimage which two thousand years ago led the Wise Men from the East to Bethlehem, in search of the new-born Christ, has been repeated this year by millions and millions of Christ’s disciples, who have come here not with “gold, frankincense and myrrh” but bringing their own hearts, rich in faith and in need of mercy.



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8 February 2015