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Pope urges monks to have Mary’s eyes, as seen in their icon

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican on April 17, 2024

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 05/15/24

“I urge you not to give in to the temptation of conforming to the mentality and styles of the world, and to let yourselves be transformed constantly by God."

“Make yourself a gift for God, in order to be a gift of God.” This is what Pope Francis told the Benedictine monastic community of the Abbey of Montevergine, located in southern Italy, in a meeting at the Vatican on May 13, 2024. In his speech the Pope encouraged the monks to be a welcoming sign of God’s presence and not to give into the temptations of today’s society. 

“Being monks, physically far from the world, but spiritually very close to its problems and its anguish, silent guardians of communion with the Lord […] can make you, for those who meet you, a living and eloquent sign of God’s presence,” the Pope said. 

Pope Francis met with the Benedictine monks of Montevergine as they are celebrating a jubilee year for the 900th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey in 1124. The Abbey of Montevergine is located around a 2-hour drive from Naples on a rocky mountain overlooking a valley and was founded by the hermit St. William of Montevergine. The abbey hosts a famous icon of Our Lady holding Baby Jesus, which attracts many visitors throughout the year. 

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To make yourself a gift you must pray

Citing St. Augustine, Pope Francis encouraged the monks to “make [themselves] a gift for God, in order to be a gift of God” for the many faithful that flock to the Abbey, “often on foot, to find consolation and hope, to receive new strength.” 

“Welcoming [the faithful] is the beautiful icon of the Mother of God, with her large almond-shaped eyes, ready to gather tears and prayers, showing everyone, on her knees, the Child Jesus, the Son of God made man,” the Pope said. “Well, to make yourself a ‘gift for God’ means to pray to have those large, good eyes too, and to show everyone you meet, like Mary, the Lord, present in your hearts.” 

To be a gift always welcome others

Then, in order to be a “a gift of God” the monks have to give themselves “generously to those who ascend to the Shrine, so that, by approaching the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation, they may feel, in attention and prayer, welcomed and brought under the mantle of the Mother of God,” the Pope explained. 

“Dear brothers, I urge you not to give in to the temptation of conforming to the mentality and styles of the world, and to let yourselves be transformed constantly by God, […] so that those who come to you in search of light are not disappointed.” 

The Pope also recalled how the Abbey safeguarded the Holy Shroud of Turin during the Second World War. “This too is a beautiful image of your primary vocation: to safeguard the image of Christ in you, so as to be able to show it to your brothers and sisters,” he said. 

Tags:
MonksPope FrancisReligious LifeVatican
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