Thousands of believers from all over the country and abroad came on Saturday in Sumuleu Ciuc and Iasi where the Sovereign Pontiff was on the second day of his visit to Romania.
At Sumuleu Ciuc, the Sovereign Pontiff was met with Papal Hymn, but also with an old church song. The sermon that Pope Francis uttered during the liturgy at Sumuleu Ciuc was translated simultaneously into the Romanian and Hungarian languages.
At the liturgy celebrated in the famous Marian shrine, His Holiness wore liturgical clothing made by a well-known church designer in Satu Mare, Cristina Sabau-Trifu.
The organization of the great event at Sumuleu Ciuc involved more than 300 concelebrate priests as well as dozens of priests. There were also 60 bishops, four deacons, and four cardinals.
For the first time after the Second World War, the wonderworking statue of the Virgin Mary of Sumuleu Ciuc, carved in lime wood, with a height of 2.27 meters, the largest of its kind in the world, over 500 years old, will be climbed up the mountain and adorn the altar from where the Sovereign Pontiff will officiate on Saturday.
From Sumuleu Ciuc, Pope Francis went to Iasi, where he visited the “Holy Virgin Mary, Queen” Cathedral and met with about 800 sick and elderly people. After this meeting, he went by the Popemobile to the Cultural Palace Square to attend the “Marian Meeting with Young People and Families”. Pope Francis held then a speech on the stage in the Culture Palace Square, erected for this event.
His Sanctity presents Sumuleu Ciuc Marian shrine with Golden Rose
Pope Francis presented on Saturday the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary in Sumuleu Ciuc with a Golden Rose, a gift the Popes have been offering since long to the world’s major sanctuaries.
The Pontiff placed the rose at the feet of the wonder-working statue of the Virgin Mary.
Until 1922, such a rose could also be offered to a person whom the Holy Father particularly respected, but after this year it has been conferred only to pilgrimage sites devoted to the Virgin Mary, father Stelian Veres, a member of the organisation committee of the Pope’s visit, told AGERPRES.
Sumuleu Ciuc is home to a more than 500-year-old miracle-working statue of the Virgin Mary, carved in lime wood, which represents Virgin Mary shrouded in sunrays, with the moon and the earthly globe under her feet, and a circle halo of 12 stars around her head. Also known as the “Woman Clothed with the Sun” or “The Weeping Madonna”, the 2.27 m tall statue shows Virgin Mary holding the kingly scepter in her right hand and Infant Jesus on her left arm, both wearing crowns.
As an exception for the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit, the statue was moved for the first time after World War II from the Franciscan church where it usually stands to the altar where the Pontiff celebrated Mass. Usually, a replica of the statue is exposed for veneration during the annual Catholic pilgrimage of Pentecost in Sumuleu Ciuc.
According to the official site of the Pope’s visit, “in 1798, Alba Iulia Bishop Batthyány Ignác declared the statue wonder-working and conferred it the title of Mother of Help.”
Over the years, the statue has been credited with hundreds of miraculous healings and fulfilled desires, as prove the metal objects placed on the walls of the church as donations by those whose prayers have been heard.
“Pilgrimage to Sumuleu Ciuc is a symbol of dialogue, unity and fraternity”
The annual pilgrimage to Sumuleu Ciuc is part of the Transylvanian heritage, but it equally honors Romanian and Hungarian traditions and is the symbol of dialogue, unity and brotherhood, Pope Francis said in his message delivered on Saturday at the Sumuleu Ciuc Marian shrine.
“With joy and thanksgiving to God, I join you today, dear brothers and sisters, in this beloved Marian shrine, so rich in history and faith. We have come here as children to meet our Mother and to acknowledge that we are all brothers and sisters. Shrines are like ‘sacraments’ of a Church that is a field hospital: they keep alive the memory of God’s faithful people who, in the midst of tribulation, continue to seek the source of living water that renews our hope. They are places of festivity and celebration, of tears and supplication. We come to the feet of our Mother, with few words, to let her gaze upon us, and with that gaze bring us to Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We didn’t come here just by chance, we have come here for a reason: we are pilgrims,” the Pontiff said.
The Holy Father referred to the significance of the pilgrimage, noting that “to go on pilgrimage” means “to realize that we are in a way returning home as a people.”
“Here, every year, on the Saturday before Pentecost, you come on pilgrimage to honor the vow made by your ancestors, and to strengthen your own faith in God and your devotion to Our Lady, before her monumental wooden statue. This annual pilgrimage is part of the heritage of Transylvania, but at the same time it honors Romanian and Hungarian religious traditions. The faithful of other confessions take part in it, and it is thus a symbol of dialogue, unity and fraternity. It invites us to rediscover the witness of living faith and hope-filled life. To go on pilgrimage is to realize that we are in a way returning home as a people, a people whose wealth is seen its myriad faces, cultures, languages and traditions. The holy and faithful People of God who in union with Mary advance on their pilgrim way singing of the Lord’s mercy,” Pope Francis further said.
He went on to remark that the wounds of the past should not be an obstacle to desire to brotherly live together.
“In Cana of Galilee, Mary interceded with Her Son to perform His first miracle; in every shrine, She watches over us and makes intercession, not only with her Son but also with each of us, asking that we do not let ourselves robbed of our fraternal love by those voices and hurts that provoke division and fragmentation. Complicated and sorrow-filled situations from the past must not be forgotten or denied, yet neither must they be an obstacle or an excuse standing in the way of our desire to live together as brothers and sisters. To go on pilgrimage is to feel called and compelled to journey together, asking the Lord for the grace to change past and present resentments and mistrust into new opportunities for fellowship. It means leaving behind our security and comfort and setting out for a new land that the Lord wants to give us. To go on pilgrimage means daring to discover and communicate the ‘mystique’ of living together, and not being afraid to mingle, to embrace and to support one another. To go on pilgrimage is to participate in that somewhat chaotic sea of people that can give us a genuine experience of fraternity, to be part of a caravan that can together, in solidarity, create history,” the Holy Father said.
He then referenced the “path of reconciliation,” but also the belief that God is in the midst of us.
“To go on pilgrimage is to look not so much at what might have been (and wasn’t), but at everything that awaits us and cannot be put off much longer. It is to believe in the Lord who is coming and even now is in our midst, inspiring and generating solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth and justice. It is to commit ourselves to ensuring that the stragglers of yesterday can become the protagonists of tomorrow, and that today’s protagonists do not become tomorrow’s stragglers. This requires a certain skill, the art of weaving the threads of the future,” the Pontiff said.
Pope Francis concluded his message calling on everybody to walk together and believe in the joy of salvation.
“That is why we are here today, to say together: Mother teach us to weave the future. As pilgrims to this shrine, we turn our gaze to Mary and to the mystery of God’s election. By saying ‘yes’ to the message of the angel, Mary – a young woman from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee on the fringes of the Roman Empire and of Israel itself – set in motion the revolution of tenderness. Such is the mystery of Gods election: he looks to the lowly and confounds the powerful; he encourages and inspires us to say ‘yes’, like Mary, and to set out on the paths of reconciliation. The Lord does not disappoint those who take a risk. Let us journey, then, and journey together, allowing the Gospel to be the leaven that permeates everything and fills our peoples with the joy of salvation.
Pope Francis at Iasi Marian gathering: With you I feel the warmth of being at home, part of a family
Pope Francis blessed on Saturday in Iasi the about 800 ailing people who waited for him in the ‘Our Lady Queen of Iasi’ Roman Catholic Cathedral, thanking them for bravely bearing their illness.
“I thank you all who accompany them and I thank you, the sick, for bearing the illness,” said the Pontiff, who also asked the faithful to pray for him.
The next moment of the Pope’s Iasi visit was the Marian meeting with young people and families at the Palace of Culture, where he addressed a crowd of roughly 140,000 people.
“Here with you, I feel the warmth of being at home and part of a family, surrounded by young and old alike. In your presence and looking out at you, it is easy to feel at home. (…) Romania is the ‘garden of the Mother of God’, and in this meeting, I have been able to realize why. Mary is a Mother who encourages her children’s dreams, who cherishes their hopes, who brings joy to their homes. She is a tender and true Mother who cares for us. You are that living, flourishing and hope-filled community that we can offer to our Mother. To Her let us consecrate the future of young people, families and the Church. (…) Today is Children’s Day in Romania – let’s greet them with a round of applause! The first thing I would like us to do is to pray for them, asking the Blessed Virgin to shelter them under her mantle. Jesus placed children in the midst of his Apostles; we too want to put them at the center and reaffirm our commitment to love them with the same love with which the Lord loves them and to make every effort to ensure their right to a future,” Pope Francis said in his address.
The Pontiff said that as young people grow up they must not forget the beautiful and precious things they have learned in their family.
“Journeying together is not easy, is it? It is a gift that we have to ask for. A work of art for us to create, a beautiful gift for us to hand on. But where do we start? I would like to take up a point made by our elderly couple, Elisabeta and Ioan. It is good to see when love sinks deep roots through sacrifice and commitment, work and prayer. Love took root in the two of you and it has borne rich fruit. As the prophet Joel says, when young and old meet, the elderly are not afraid to dream. (…) As you continue to grow in every way – stronger, older and even in importance – do not forget the most beautiful and worthwhile lesson you learned at home. It is the wisdom that comes from age. When you grow up, do not forget your mother and your grandmother, and the simple but robust faith that gave them the strength and tenacity to keep going and not to give up. It is a reason for you to give thanks and to ask for the generosity, courage, and selflessness of a ‘home-grown’ faith that is unobtrusive, yet slowly but surely builds up the Kingdom of God,” the Pope said.
He added that the faith is definitely not listed on the stock exchange, does not sell, and may sometimes seem to not serve to anything.
“Faith, however, is a gift that keeps alive a profound and beautiful certainty: that we are God’s beloved children. God loves with a Father’s love. Every life and every one of us belongs to him. We belong as children, but also as grandchildren, spouses, grandparents, friends, neighbors; we belong as brothers and sisters. The Evil one divides, scatters, separates; he sows discord and distrust. He wants us to live ‘detached’ from others and from ourselves. The Spirit, on the contrary, reminds us that we are not anonymous, abstract, faceless beings, without history or identity. We are not meant to be empty or superficial. There is a very strong spiritual network that unites us; one that ‘connects’ and sustains us, and is stronger than any other type of connection. It is roots: the realization that we belong to one another, that each of our lives is anchored in the lives of others,” said Pope Francis.
“‘Young people flourish when they are truly loved,’ Eduard said. We all flourish when we feel loved. Because love draws us out of ourselves and invites us to take root in the lives of others. It is like those beautiful words of your national poet, whose fond wish for your sweet Romania was that ‘your children might live only in fraternity, like the stars of the night’. We belong to each other and our happiness is meant to make others happy. Everything else is nonsense. To journey together, wherever you may be, never forget what you learned at home. This reminds me of the prophecy of one of the holy hermits of these lands. One day, monk Galaction Ilie of Sihastria Monastery was walking among sheep grazing on a mountainside when he met a saintly hermit whom he knew. He asked him: ‘Tell me, Father, when will the world end?’ And the venerable hermit, with a deep sigh, replied: ‘Father Galaction, do you want to know when the world will end? When there are no more paths between neighbors!’ That is, when there is no more Christian love and understanding between brothers and sisters, relatives, Christians and between peoples! When persons lose all their love, then it will truly be the end of the world. Because without love and without God, no one can live on the earth!,” the Pope cautioned.
The Pontiff added that life will fade away and people’s hearts will cease to beat and wither when pathways between neighbors will disappear, because man cannot dwell on Earth without love and without God.
“During the Middle Ages, pilgrims set out together from this historical and cultural capital of your country, following the Via Transylvania on the way to Santiago de Compostela. Today many students from various parts of the world live here. I remember the virtual meeting we had in March with Scholas Occurentes, where I learned that this year your city would be the national capital of youth. You have two great things here: a city historically known for openness and creativity, and one that can host young people from various parts of the world as it now does. Two things that remind us of the potential and the great mission that can you can carry out: to open up paths for journeying together and pursuing that prophetic vision: without love and without God, no one can live on the earth. Today, from this place, new paths can open up to the future, towards Europe and many other parts of the world. You can be pilgrims of the twenty-first century, capable of imagining afresh the bonds that unite us,” Pope Francis concluded.