December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is of course an important feast day back in the States, but in Italy it is a national holiday. There were no classes (nice huh?) The day's main event was the celebration of Solemn Mass in the Immaculate Conception Chapel here at the North American College. It is a very important day for the college. Not only is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception the patroness of the college she is the patroness of the United States of America. So of course, in typical fashion, we would celebrate such a festive day with a banquet.
There were over 100 priests, 24 bishops and 2 cardinals concelebrating Mass that day. Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia was the principal celebrant.
The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary in the moment of her conception was saved from original sin by the merits of her Son's death and resurrection. In that way, God prepares Mary to be a holy tabernacle for the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Nostra Signora dell'Immacolata Concezione...prega per noi
On December 12th we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This year, the Holy Father celebrated the feast in St. Peter's Basilica. Originally, the Mass was scheduled for St. Mary Major. The official reason given for the Papal Mass was to mark the 200th anniversary of the independence of Latin American countries. The Holy Father took this opportunity to announce his plans to visit Cuba and Mexico this upcoming spring. This is great news! It will be Pope Benedict's first visit to those countries. His homily, which was delivered in Spanish rather than Italian, focused on the role of Our Lady of Guadalupe in evangelization. Close to five hundred years ago, Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego and asked to have a basilica built on top of a hill. For proof, Our Lady gave a miraculous image of herself to St. Juan Diego to show to the bishop. The miraculous image is venerated by millions of pilgrims each year. Following the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe millions of people were converted. I think that is the reason why Pope Benedict has chosen to draw our attention this year to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization.
Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe...ruega por nosotros.