With a Mass for the sick and disabled, Pope Benedict XVI. Ended his stay in the southern French pilgrimage site of Lourdes on Monday. On the forecourt of the Basilica of the Pilgrimage, he called for trust in the help of the Blessed Mother. Marian devotion is not "pious infantilism," Pope said about 50 years ago.000 participants in the service. It is an expression of spiritual maturity and of the insight into one's own weakness and poverty before God. The smiling face of Mary reflects the dignity of being a child of God, which never leaves even sick people, Benedict XVI emphasized. The Church is obliged to be as attentive as Mary to those who suffer, he said.

In a gesture that is unusual for popes, Benedict XVI. during the celebration, ten people received the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. He anointed the foreheads and hands of six women and four men of different nationalities and spoke to them of Christ's assistance. Suffering can shake the foundations of trust and make us despair of the value of life, the pope said in his homily. "In all humility, I want to say to all who suffer, who struggle and who are tempted to turn their backs on life: Turn to Mary! In the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against illness and for life. In her, too, is found the grace to leave this world without fear and bitterness, in the hour that God has appointed."At the spring of Lourdes, visited by so many sick people, Mary leads the faithful to her Son as the "only source of salvation".". Christ is not a doctor according to secular understanding, the Pope said. "To heal us, he does not remain outside the suffering experienced."Christ bears the suffering together with the sick and breaks the isolation of pain. In this way, the sick person will be conformed to Christ and will participate in the new creation.

Visited the hospital chapel

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Amjad, an Iraqi artist with the NGO Imprint of Hope, paints a mural of Pope Francis © Ameer Al Mohammedaw

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Refugees in Serbia brave cold and snow © Darko Vojinovic

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