Mary, queen of heaven, watches over her children, pope says at audience

Pope Benedict XVI waves at the end of his weekly audience at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug. 22. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Honoring Mary as queen, Catholics see her exercising the same kind of regality that Jesus did: one of humility, service and love, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Marking the feast of the Queenship of Mary Aug. 22 at his weekly general audience, the pope said just as Jesus' kingship had nothing to do with earthly power — in fact, Christians recognize him as king when he's on the cross — so Mary's queenship is exercised through obedience to God and helping those who turn to her.

Holding his audience in the courtyard of the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, the pope told the crowd that the feast of Mary's queenship was added to the liturgical calendar only in 1954, but it was the result of centuries of devotion to Mary as queen of heaven and of the universe.

Mary's queenship is a “consequence of her being united with her son, her being in heaven, in communion with God,” the pope said.

From heaven, she participates in God's love for the world, the pope said. She “watches over us, her children; children who turn to her in prayer to thank her or to ask for her maternal protection and her heavenly assistance, perhaps after losing the way, oppressed by suffering or anguish,” the pope said.

“Devotion to Mary is an important element of the spiritual life,” the pope said. “Gazing upon her, let us imitate her faith, her full openness to God's plan of love, her generous welcoming of Jesus. Let us learn to live from Mary.”

During the audience, the pope offered special greetings to a dozen members of the Chaldean Sisters, Daughters of Mary Immaculate. He told the estimated 2,500 people at the audience that the sisters work “serving the people of Iraq.”

He also had special greetings for the 25 boys and young men from Malta who were continuing the long tradition of Maltese youths who spend part of their summer assisting dozens of priests each day as altar servers in St. Peter's Basilica.

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