His Excellency Domenico Caloyera,
Archbishop Em. of the diocese of Izmir in Turkey
In the course of my sixty years of priesthood, I never hesitated to give my yes when I was invited to bring Our Lady nearer to the people, so that they would love her more. Although travelling tires me because of my age and my health, I have come here today to thank and venerate Mary personally. In this I unite myself with you all who consider it as their honorable and high duty to gather here at this holy place.
First of all I would like to tell you something personally as good friends.
In January 1984 I asked to be discharged as bishop because of my health. I was bishop of Smyrna, the only church of the seven churches mentioned in the Apocalypse that exists in Turkey till this very day. I asked the Holy Father for his permission to dedicate myself completely to the dogmatic definition of Mary as Coredemptrix and universal Mediatrix. And I asked for his fatherly encouragement in this undertaking.
With the rich blessings of the Holy Father, I started immediately with great enthusiasm.
During the many years I worked for the dogmatic definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, I came to understand more and more that we ourselves through fervent prayer have to love and venerate Mary and carry her in our hearts so that we will know her better as our Mother.
According to many people Mary is our Mother because Jesus gave her to us when he said on the cross to the Apostle John who represented humanity: “Behold your Mother.”
This is correct. But Mary’s motherhood towards us has not just remained a passive motherhood. Rather did the Redeemer say from the cross:
“Mother, now the time has come for you to give all the love and care you gave me, to all my brothers and sisters, to all people, of whom I am the first born: “Woman, behold your children.” Mary truly became under the cross the Lady, the Mother of All Nations.
St Paul said: “It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the church.” (Col 1,24) But in an incomparable way Mary was united with the suffering of her Son and shared with Him the depth of his suffering for the sake of our redemption.
And I even dare say: Had God the Father permitted it, she herself would have taken up the cross in the place of Jesus and be nailed to it.
Permit me to tell you now a personal story rather than theological explanations.
It happened quite some time ago, on July 16, 1939, on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, on the day of my priestly ordination. On that day I totally dedicated myself and my future mission to Mary. I spoke more or less the following words to her:
O, my Mother, I don’t know what life will bring but I do know one thing: I will be in great need of your motherly help. Please, stay always with me. Take me in your arms and I promise you that I’ll do everything to see to it that you will be loved, honored and revered, that all will learn about you and follow you as their Mother.
Yet, with all my limitations and worthlessness, I can give the solemn assurance now, after more than 60 years of priesthood, that I have remained faithful to her, even when the task entrusted to me has been arduous: tiring travels, changes of climate and customs, heavy pastoral duties etc.
But if you only knew ... with how much love and generosity Mary has helped and protected me and saved me from many deadly perils time and again.
On this day I would like to thank her again and encourage you to have faith in Mary, in her goodness and her efficacy. Only in heaven will we be able to realize and fully appreciate what Mary has done for each of us. Without her, we would not have the means to go on in life nor to come to life eternal.
We know that at St Peter’s square on October 8 of this year the Holy Father, together with the bishops of the whole world, will renew the dedication of the world to the immaculate heart of Mary before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, in order to fulfil the wish of Our Lady.
Therefore let us turn to her with renewed faith and fire. She is our Mother, for she is the Mother of God and the Queen and Lady of All Nations, who once more at the threshold of the third millennium may intervene, a millennium charged with doubt and incompleteness, so that evil will be conquered and the light of Christ will overcome.