Pope on the Hidden Power of Cloistered Prayer


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(24 June 10 - RV) On Thursday morning, Pope Benedict XVI paid a pastoral visit to the Don Orione Centre and the Dominican Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary on Monte Mario hill, northern Rome.

The Holy Father's first stop was at the Don Orione Centre, where he blessed the giant statue of Our Lady Salus populi romani , which has been restored to its original location following damage in a storm October last.

Pope Benedict then travelled the short distance from the Institute to the Dominican Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary, to preside over the recitation of the Midday Prayer. The convent custodies the ancient icon of the Virgin Hagiosorritissa, familiarly known as Our Lady of St Luke, dated to the VII century.

There in an address to the cloistered religious, the Pope stressed the fundamental importance of their prayer for the life of the Universal Church and his ministry as its pastor.

"The contemplative life which, from the hands of St. Dominic, you received in the form of the cloister, makes you living and vital members in the heart of the Lord's mystical body which is the Church. And just as the heart causes the blood to circulate and keeps the entire body alive, so your hidden lives with Christ, imbued with work and prayer, contribute to maintaining the Church, the instrument of salvation for all mankind whom the Lord redeemed with His Blood..It is from this inexhaustible source that you draw with prayer,

You have chosen to live in obscurity and to renounce earthly goods in order to desire above all other things the good that has no equal, the precious pearl for which it is worth abandoning all else".

The Holy Father concluded by inviting the religious "to pronounce your 'yes' to the designs of God every day, with the same humility as that with which the Blessed Virgin pronounced her 'yes'".

Then, before taking his leave of the cloistered sisters, Pope Benedict stood in reverence before the icon of Haghiosoritissa. His visit comes a few days ahead of the "feast of the Translation" of the painting to the Monastery of SS. Dominic and Sixtus, which takes place on June 27 according to the Congregation of Rites.

That morning at Matins the nuns sing the "Legend" on the origins and pilgrimage of the "acheropite" Icon, a narrative from the eleventh century that tells how the Apostles after the resurrection, decided that the face of the Virgin should be depicted by the Evangelist Luke. The artist had barely traced her face, without even putting his hand to the colours, when the image appeared completed in all its magnificent beauty, "as was natural, because the work appeared not as the result of human effort, but as expression of the power of God Almighty".

After some time - continues the "Legend" - the image came to Rome from Constantinople where it continues to lavish favours and graces on the faithful who entrust themselves to the intercession of the Venerable Mother of God.