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EPIPHANY AT THE VATICAN
John Paul II Refers to Christmas of Orthodox Christians
VATICAN CITY, JAN 6 (ZENIT).- Thursday morning, on the feast of the Epiphany, St. Peter's Square witnessed a unique spectacle. 40,000 people came together to hear the Holy Father speak at noon, while the 700 members of a folkloric ensemble graced the Square with their music and traditional costumes. Needless to say, the happiest of all were Roman children, who receive their Christmas gifts from the Three Kings on this date.
When John Paul II saw the celebrations he said that "these initiatives remind everyone of the value of pilgrimage, as a sign of conversion and a constitutive element of the Jubilee."
During his address, the Holy Father remembered the Orthodox Christians very especially, as well as Catholics of the Eastern Rite, who are celebrating Christmas at this time. The Pope mentioned the Sees of the important patriarchies that have been so influential in the history of Christianity: Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow. John Paul II is the first Roman Pontiff to have visited a primarily Orthodox country, which he did in Georgia and Romania. "I would like to name them one by one, expressing the fervent wish that the light of Christ, whose birth they are celebrating at this time, will give them an abundance all that can reinforce the proclamation of the only Gospel of salvation."
Referring to one of the Byzantine prayers most often repeated by the Orthodox faithful during these days, the Pope wished the Christians of the East a Merry Christmas: "Thinking of all the Churches of the Christian East, I send them my wishes for prosperity and joy. I do so by participating in spirit in the song of their liturgy and sharing in the many gifts the Lord has profusely given their traditions that enrich the Church of Christ." ZE00010605
January 7-9, 2000 |
volume 11, no. 4
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