Pope Francis has a strong devotion to this presentation of Mary, given that gossip is one of the sins he most often laments.
Our Lady of Silence is a particular devotion of the Holy Father’s, as her aid contrasts the sin of gossip, which he calls a terrorism of the tongue.
“Mary is the cathedral of silence in which the eternal Word echoes. Our Lady of Silence is an antidote against the dictatorship of noise, and the gossip of useless or hurtful words,” Friar Emiliano Antenucci, provincial of the Capuchins in Abruzos, told Aleteia.
Last March, Father Antenucci had a private audience with the pope and two days later, the Holy Father sent a letter to Capuchin director Father Nicola Galasso saying: “It would be good to find a place, a church, where public devotion to Our Lady of Silence could be given. Please think about it and propose something to me.”
The pope has such devotion to Our Lady of Silence that he had a copy of the icon hung near the elevator of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The image, created in the traditional Byzantine Style, depicts the Virgin lifting a finger to her lips, as if to warn visitors to avoid engaging in gossip and rumors.
On June 15, 2016, the pope blessed the icon of Our Lady of Silence and signed it, moved by the meaning of the image, which invites us to interior silence. He also wrote a message on the back of the original icon: “Don’t speak badly of others.”
The priests, together with the general directorate of the order, began to seek out a place, and decided on the church of St. Francis of Assisi in the Capuchin monastery of Avezzano, which had been abandoned a decade ago.
Father Antenucci reflected that devotion to Our Lady of Silence in the sanctuary “will be a sign of the importance of silence” in the world today, and is aligned with the magisterium of the Holy Father, who considers it “fundamental” for the spiritual life.
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