THE POPE celebrated the Assumption Day Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the basilica of St Peter's this year instead or, as customary, in St Mary Major.
—We are doing this for reasons of space". the Pope told clerse to 30,000 people packed into St Peter's. "This liturgy should have taken place in St Mary Major, the revered and very dear basilica. a unique and magnificent monument dedicated to the Marian Ideal.
"But we thought it better to transfer the ceremony here in this larger basilica of St Peter's to make this solemn ritual more accessible for a greater number of people."
Pope Paul recalled in his homily that "Mary is the only human creature . . . to have entered paradise body and soul at thc end of her terrestial life."
On the Thursday • evening before the Assumption Day Muss in St Peter's., scores of thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans lined the streets leading from St Mary Major's to St Peter's as the city's most famous Ikon of the Blessed Virgin and the infant Jesus was carried in procession.
Known city-wide as the Saks midi Romani (Safeguard of the Roman people) this Ikon dates hack to the days of Gregory the Great, some say even further. and is revered by the Romans as granting them special protection.
Many of those reverently crossing themselves as the Ikon was borne by them recalled the procession of the 1950 Holy Year when this Ikon was carried in torchlight procession on the eve of Pope Pius XII's proclamation of the Assumption of Mary.
They recalled how St Peter's Square and the Via Della Conciliazione had been jammed with an estimated half-million people to hear the Papal announcement.
A Roman woman in last week's crowd had been at St
Pet cr's 1 hat day: "The only time I saw such a huge crowd on the Piazza and in the streets leading up from the river was when Pope John XXIII died," she said.
Pope Paul VI, who had helicoptered to the Vatican and hack for his regular weekly general audience. again flew into Rome from Castelgandolfo to celebrate the Assumption Day Mass.
During the Mas . the Pope knelt iti front of thoslkon, placed in front of the liar of the confession and prayed for some minutes in silence.
This was only the fourth time that the Ikon had been taken from St Mary Major's — in 1931 to mark the 15th centenary of the Council of Ephesus which had proclaimed the divine maternity of Mary in 1950 when the dogma of the Assumption was proclaimed and in 1954 to receive crowns of gold, silver and jewels donated by Catholics from all over the world.
Pax Christi tribute
A PILGRIMAGE to the birthplace of an Austrian conscientious objector is being undertaken by English members of Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement. He is Franz Jaegerstaetter, a Catholic beheaded by the Nazis because he refused on Christian grounds to fight for Hitler.
Pax Christi in England hopes that people from other countries will take part in the pilgrimage to St Radegund at the beginning of September. A Mass for peace and a discussion on "Christians and militarism in Europe" are also planned. , Franz Jaegerstuetter. farmer. refused to become a soldier in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. He explained that he could not take part in an unjust war.
Because of his attitude Jaegerstaetter was condemned to death and executed. A film of his life and death was recently shown in London.