Pope John Paul II and Shrines

Abstract from the original German talks given at the German Mariological Consortium on Influece of Mary on Pope John Paul II, provided by Sister M. Danielle Peters.

John Paul II's Pastoral Visits to Christianity's Marian Shrines: A Cultural-scientific and Theological Analysis

– Klaus Guth

Pope John Paul II’s 102 pastoral visits outside of Italy were often connected with a visit to the country’s Marian shrine. This gesture points to the late Pope’s personal veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as to his awareness that Marian Shrines hold a significant place in the historical development of a nation or country. As pilgrim he immersed himself in the mystery of each of these shrines when celebrating the liturgy with the faithful. These celebrations at holy places (loca sancta) confer a new meaning/function to these pilgrimage places by recalling the beginning and history of the shrine and Marian cult. Frequently they included the entrustment of the people of this nation to Mary, the Mother of the Lord and of the Church. Guth refers to the liturgies during the pope’s pastoral journeys as liturgy for all senses which finds expression in the joy of a people’s existence.

John Paul II’s pastoral journeys can be divided into three categories: 1. Visitations to get to know the local churches and political leaders of a country; 2. Ecumenical Encounters to strengthen the dialogue with leaders of other denominations or faiths; 3. Jubilee Celebrations. The pope’s travels led him to all continents and almost all countries with a Christian population whereby the majority of his pilgrimages took him to South America, Africa and European countries. Representatively for the Pope’s pilgrimages Guth presents an evaluation of the Pope’s pilgrimages to Altötting, Germany; Czestochowa, Poland and Fatima, Portugal. Guth closes with two examples of pilgrimages, Guadalupe and the Holy Land, to show the impact of his missionary appeal, ad omnes gentes.

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