Thursday, August 18, 2005

In the Cathedral Square

Full English translation from Roncalliplatz here. Some snips:

Along with Jerusalem the “Holy City”, Rome the “Eternal City” and Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Cologne, thanks to the Magi, has become down the centuries one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Christian West. Yet Cologne is not just the city of the Magi. It has been deeply marked by the presence of many saints; these holy men and women, through the witness of their lives and the imprint they left on the history of the German people, have helped Europe to grow from Christian roots. I think above all of the martyrs of the first centuries, like young Saint Ursula and her companions, who, according to tradition, were martyred under Diocletian. How can one fail to remember Saint Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, whose election as Bishop of Cologne in 745 was confirmed by Pope Zachary? The name of Saint Albert the Great is also linked to this city; his body rests nearby in the crypt of the Church of Saint Andrew. In Cologne Saint Thomas Aquinas was a disciple of Saint Albert and later a professor. Nor can we forget Blessed Adolph Kolping, who died in Cologne in 1865; from a shoemaker he became a priest and founded many social initiatives, especially in the area of professional training. Closer to our own times, our thoughts turn to Edith Stein, the eminent twentieth-century Jewish philosopher who entered the Carmelite Convent in Cologne taking the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and later died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Pope John Paul II canonized her and declared her a co-patroness of Europe, together with Saint Bridget of Sweden and Saint Catherine of Siena.

In these and all the other saints, both known and unknown, we discover the deepest and truest face of this city and we become aware of the legacy of values handed down to us by the generations of Christians who have gone before us. It is a very rich legacy. We need to be worthy of it. It is a responsibility of which the very stones of the city’s ancient buildings remind us. Indeed it is these spiritual values that make possible mutual comprehension between individuals and peoples, between different cultures and civilizations....

Now you yourselves are here, dear young people from throughout the world. You represent those distant peoples who came to know Christ through the Magi and who were brought together as the new People of God, the Church, which gathers men and women from every culture. Today it is your task to live and breathe the Church’s universality. Let yourselves be inflamed by the fire of the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost will renew your hearts. Through you, may other young people everywhere come to recognize in Christ the true answer to their deepest aspirations, and may they open their hearts to receive the Word of God Incarnate, who died and rose from the dead for the salvation of the world.



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