Vatican City, 8 December 2013 (VIS) – On the day of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and asked all to join him in invoking Mary, repeating “Full of grace”, as God saw her in His loving plan: “beautiful and full of grace”.

“Our mother is beautiful!” he continued. “Mary guides us as we journey towards the Nativity, because she teaches us how to experience the time of Advent, awaiting the Lord … Who will come to us all together in the feast, but also to each one of us, in our hearts”.

He went on to comment on the reading from the Gospel of St. Luke, which presents Mary, a girl from Galilee, a small village at the outskirts of the Roman Empire and remote even within Israel. However, although she was “a young girl from a faraway village”, “the gaze of the Lord” rested upon her, “and He chose her as the mother of His Son. In the light of her maternity, Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in the communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being. But this fracture was healed in advance in the mother of He Who came to free us from the slavery of sin. The Immaculate Conception is inscribed in God’s design; it is the fruit of God’s love, which saves the world”.

“And the Virgin never strayed from that love; all her life, all her being is a ‘yes’ to that love, and a ‘yes’ to God. But it certainly was not easy for her! When the Angel describes her as the ‘favoured one’, she is ‘greatly troubled’ since, in her humility, she considers herself as nothing before God”, but she “listens, obeys within herself, and answers, ‘I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’”.

“The mystery of this girl from Nazareth, who is in God’s heart, is not alien to us”, emphasised the Bishop of Rome. “It is not that she is there and we are here. No, we are connected. Indeed, God turns His loving gaze upon every man and every woman. With both name and surname. His loving gaze falls upon every one of us. The apostle Paul affirms that God ‘chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight’. We too have always been chosen by God to lead a holy life, free of sin”.

“On this feast day”, concluded Pope Francis, “contemplating our Immaculate and beautiful Mother, we also recognise our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love, to be transformed by the beauty of God”.

Following the Marian prayer, the Pope greeted the Church in North America, which today celebrates the foundation of her first parish, Notre-Dame de Quebec, 350 years ago. “We give thanks for her journey so far, especially for the saints and martyrs who have made those lands fruitful. I give my heartfelt blessing to all the faithful who celebrate this jubilee”.