Marie du jour 2023, 6 May: St. John Paul II

Today the Church particularly venerates the Motherhood of Mary.  This is, as it were, a last message of the octave of Christmas. Birth always speaks of the Begetter, of her who gives life, of her who gives man to the world. The first day of the New Year is Mother’s Day.

We see her then—as in so many pictures and sculptures—with the Child in her arms, with the Child at her breast. The Mother, she who begot and fed the Son of God. The Mother of Christ. There is no image that is better known and that speaks in a more simple way of the mystery of the Lord’s birth than that of the Mother with Jesus in her arms. Is not this image, perhaps, the source of our extraordinary confidence? Is it not just this image that allows us to live in the circle of all the mysteries of our faith, and, while contemplating them as “divine”, to consider them at the same time so “human”?

But there is yet another image of the Mother with her Son in her arms. It is in this basilica: it is “la Pietà”: Mary with Jesus taken from the Cross; with Jesus who died before her eyes, on Mount Golgotha, and who after death returns to those arms on which he was offered as Saviour of the world at Bethlehem.

I would like, then, to unite our prayer for peace with this double image. I would like to connect it with this Motherhood, which the Church venerates particularly in the octave of Christmas. Therefore I say:

you who know what it means
to clasp in your arms the dead body of your Son,
of him to whom you gave birth,
spare all mothers on this earth
the death of their sons,
the torments, the slavery, the destruction of war,
the persecutions, the concentration camps,
the prisons!
Keep for them the joy of birth,
of sustenance, of the development of man
and of his life.
In the name of this life,
in the name of the birth of the Lord,
implore with us peace,
and justice in the world!
Mother of Peace,
in all the beauty and majesty of your motherhood,
which the Church exalts and the world admires,
we pray to you:
Be with us at every moment!
Let this New Year be a year of peace,
in virtue of the birth and the death of your Son!


Saint John Paul II

Homily, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (excerpt)
1 January 1979

Featured image: Giovanni Bellini’s Pietà is a tempera on panel painting that the artist executed ca. 1465–1470. It is found in the collections of the Pinacoteca Brera in Milan. (Public domain)

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