In the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, known to the locals of Marseille, France, as la Bonne Mère, Pope Francis pointed out three images of Mary that worked as a summary of his message to the local clergy.
The Pope is on a two-day visit to Marseille (though he’s specified it’s not a visit to France, per se, since he is favoring travels to countries with small Catholic communities). Instead, he’s in Marseille for the end of the Mediterranean Encounter, an event that brings together young people and the region’s bishops, in order to discuss the various challenges faced by the countries that surround the Mediterranean.
His first event in the city was a Marian prayer with the local clergy. The Pope summarized his address to them by pointing to three images of Mary in the Basilica.
The first is the large image that towers over its summit; it depicts her holding the Child Jesus in the act of blessing. Like Mary, let us bring the blessing and peace of Jesus everywhere, in every family and heart. Sow peace! It is the gaze of mercy.
The second image is below us in the crypt: It is the “Virgin of the Bouquet,” a gift from a generous layman. She too carries the Child Jesus in one arm and shows him to us, but in the other hand, instead of a sceptre, she holds a bouquet of flowers. It makes us think of how Mary, model of the Church, while she presents her Son to us, also presents us to him, like a bouquet of flowers in which each person is unique: This is beautiful and precious in the eyes of the Father. It is the gaze of intercession. This is very important: intercession. First was Our Lady’s merciful gaze; second, her gaze of intercession.
Finally, the third image is the one we see here in the center, on the altar, which is striking for the splendour it radiates. We too, dear brothers and sisters, become a living Gospel to the extent that we go out of ourselves to share it, reflecting its light and beauty with a humble, joyful life, rich in apostolic zeal. May the many missionaries who set out from this lofty place to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world be a source of encouragement to us.
Read the Holy Father’s full address here.