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Mary Most Holy, Mother of God, Theotokos

Solemnity - New Year's Day, 1st January
The title 'Theotokos' (Mother of God) was officially attributed to Mary at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
In 1967 Blessed Paul VI declared that this day would also be the World Day of Peace.

Pope Francis' words on this feast day in: 2017, Jubilee of Mercy 2016, 2015 & 2014
Papa Benedict XVI's words at the New Year in: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 & 2006
St John Paul II's words at the New Year in: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, Jubilee 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980 & 1979

3 2us by Monsignor Leo Maasburg       
"The World Day of Peace is about God who works together with us to change the state of the fallen world into the state of the redeemed world of paradise. Mother Teresa in her 80s was asked by a journalist "What have you changed in the world?" She answered "I never wanted to change the world. I only wanted to be a drop of fresh water in which God's love could be reflected into the world." .. I hope that we will be the same - to be little drops of clean water through which the love of God can, unhindered, be let through into the world. And that love of God is done by faith, by prayer, by fasting and by almsgiving. In this way our love for God and for our brothers and sisters will grow, and through that the light of God will start shining into the world."

Mary's Divine Motherhood

Catechesis by Papa Benedict XVI      
General Audience, Wednesday 2 January 2008 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear brothers and sisters,
A very ancient formula of blessing, reported in the Book of Numbers, recites: "May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be favourable to you. May the Lord turn his face towards you and grant you peace" (Nm 6, 24-26). It is with these words that the liturgy gave us to hear again yesterday, the first day of the year, that I would like to warmly greet you all, here present, and those who during these festive Christmas days have sent me attestations of affectionate spiritual closeness.

Yesterday we celebrated the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. "Mother of God", Theotokos, is the title officially attributed to Mary in the fifth century, more exactly at the Council of Ephesus in 431, but which had already been affirmed in the devotion of the Christian people from the third century, in the context of that period's heated discussions about the person of Christ. With this title, it was underlined that Christ is God and that He is really born, as a man, of Mary: thus was his unity as true God and true man preserved. In truth, although the debate seemed to relate to Mary, it essentially concerned the Son. Wanting to safeguard the full humanity of Jesus, certain Fathers suggested a more attenuated term: instead of the title of Theotokos, they proposed that of Christotokos, "Mother of Christ"; rightly however this was seen as a threat to the doctrine of the full unity of the divinity with the humanity of Christ. Thus, after long discussion, as I have said, at the Council of Ephesus in 431 it was solemnly confirmed, on the one hand, the unity of the two natures, the divine and the human, in the Person of the Son of God (cf DS, 250) and, on the other (hand), the legitimacy of the attribution to the Virgin of the title Theotokos, Mother of God (ibid, 251).

After this Council a true explosion of Marian devotion was recorded and numerous churches dedicated to the Mother of God were built. Among these the Basilica of St Mary Major here in Rome stands out. The doctrine concerning Mary, Mother of God, found further confirmation at the Council of Chalcedon (451), during which Christ was declared "true God and true man ... born for us and for our salvation of Mary, Virgin and Mother of God, in his humanity" (DS, 301). As is known, the Second Vatican Council collected together, in the eighth chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, the doctrine on Mary, reaffirming her divine motherhood. The chapter is entitled "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church".

The qualification of Mother of God, so profoundly linked to the feasts of Christmas, is therefore the fundamental title with which the community of believers honours, we could say since always, the Holy Virgin. It expresses well the mission of Mary in the history of salvation. All the other titles attributed to Our Lady find their foundation in her vocation to be the Mother of the Redeemer, the human creature elected by God to realise the plan of salvation, centered on the great mystery of the incarnation of the divine Verb. In these festive days we have stopped to contemplate in the crib the representation of the Nativity. At the centre of this scene we find the Virgin Mother who offers the Baby Jesus to the contemplation of all those who come to adore the Saviour: the shepherds, the poor people of Bethlehem, the Magi come from the East. Later, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which we celebrate on 2nd February, it will be the elderly Simeon and the prophetess Anna who will receive the little Child from the hands of his Mother and adore him. The devotion of the Christian people has always considered the birth of Jesus and the divine motherhood of Mary as two aspects of the same mystery of the incarnation of the divine Verb and so has never considered the Nativity as a thing of the past. We are "contemporaries" of the shepherds, of the Magi, of Simeon and Anna, and as we go with them we are full of joy, because God wanted to be the God with us and He has a mother, who is our mother.

From the title "Mother of God" derive then all the other titles with which the Church honours Our Lady, but this is the fundamental one. Let us think of the privilege of the Immaculate Conception, that is to say that she was exempt from sin from her conception: Mary was preserved from every stain of sin because she was to be the Mother of the Redeemer. The same applies to the title the Assumption: she who had brought forth the Saviour could not be subject to the corruption deriving from original sin. And we know that all these privileges were not granted so as to distance Mary from us but, on the contrary, to render her close; indeed, by being totally with God, this Woman is very close to us and helps us as mother and as sister. The unique and unrepeatable place that Mary has in the community of believers also derives from this her fundamental vocation of being the Mother of the Redeemer. Precisely as such, Mary is also the Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. Rightly, therefore, during the Second Vatican Council, on 21 November 1964, Paul VI solemnly attributed to Mary the title "Mother of the Church".

Precisely because she is Mother of the Church, the Virgin is also the Mother of each of us, who are members of the mystical Body of Christ. From the Cross Jesus entrusted his Mother to each of his disciples and, at the same time, entrusted each of his disciples to the love of his Mother. The Evangelist John concludes his brief and evocative account with the words: "And from that moment on, the disciple took her into his home" (Jn 19, 27). This is the translation of the Greek text "εiς tά íδια" ("èis tà ìdia"), he welcomed her into his own reality, into his own being. Thus she became part of his life and the two lives penetrated each other; and this acceptance of her (εiς tά íδια) into his own life is the testament of the Lord. At the supreme moment of the accomplishment of his messianic mission, Jesus thus leaves his own Mother, the Virgin Mary as precious inheritance to each of his disciples.

Dear brothers and sisters, in these first days of the year, we are invited to consider attentively the importance of Mary's presence in the life of the Church and in our personal existence. Let us entrust ourselves to her so that she may guide our steps in this new period of time that the Lord gives us to live, and so that she may help us to be authentic friends of her Son and thus also courageous artisans of his Kingdom in the world, a Kingdom of light and of truth. Happy New Year to you all! This is the wish that I desire to address to you present here and to your loved ones at this first general audience of 2008. May the new year, begun under the sign of the Virgin Mary, make us feel more vividly her maternal presence so that, sustained and comforted by the Virgin's protection, we may with renewed eyes/a new gaze contemplate the face of her Son Jesus and walk with greater eagerness along the ways of good.

Once again, Happy New Year to you all."


"Je salue tous les pèlerins francophones. Que Marie nous fasse ressentir plus vivement sa présence maternelle; ainsi soutenus et réconfortés par elle, nous pourrons contempler avec un regard neuf le visage de son Fils Jésus et cheminer avec plus d’empressement dans la voie du bien. Bonne Année à tous!

I greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland and the United States. I especially greet the various pilgrimages of priests and seminarians, and the many student groups in our midst. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. May the New Year bring God’s richest blessings to you and your families!

Ein herzliches Willkommen zu dieser ersten Generalaudienz im neuen Jahr sage ich allen deutschsprachigen Pilgern und Besuchern. Besonders grüße ich natürlich die Alumnen und die Leitung des Priesterseminars St. Wolfgang in Regensburg und den Mainzer Domchor. Herzlichen Dank für den Gesang, wir hören uns ja dann nochmal an Dreikönig. Die Liturgie der Kirche eröffnet das Kalenderjahr mit dem biblischen Segenswort, das uns allen gilt: "Der Herr segne dich und behüte dich. Der Herr lasse sein Angesicht über dich leuchten und sei dir gnädig. Der Herr wende sein Angesicht dir zu und schenke dir Heil" (Num 6, 24-26). Allen ein gesegnetes neues Jahr!

Saludo a los peregrinos venidos España y Latinoamérica. Confiémonos a la Virgen María, para que nos conduzca a su Hijo Jesucristo y nos haga valientes constructores de su Reino en este mundo. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Witam obecnych tu Polaków. Na początku roku do każdego i każdej z was kieruję biblijne życzenie: „Niech cię Pan błogosławi i strzeże. Niech Pan rozpromieni oblicze swe nad tobą, niech cię obdarzy swą łaską. Niech zwróci ku tobie oblicze swoje i niech cię obdarzy pokojem”. Zanieście to pozdrowienie Waszym najbliższym. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

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A tutti i pellegrini di lingua italiana presenti a questa prima Udienza Generale del 2008 porgo un affettuoso augurio di serenità e di bene per il nuovo anno.

Uno speciale saluto rivolgo alla Comunità dei Legionari di Cristo, che provengono da diversi Paesi, in particolare ai sacerdoti novelli e ai rappresentanti di "Regnum Christi". Carissimi, il mistero dell'Incarnazione che celebriamo in questo tempo liturgico vi illumini nel cammino della fedeltà a Cristo. Sull'esempio di Maria, sappiate custodire, meditare e seguire il Verbo che a Betlemme si è fatto carne, e diffondere con entusiasmo il suo messaggio di salvezza.

Saluto, infine, i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. A voi, cari giovani, auguro di saper considerare ogni giorno come un dono di Dio, da accogliere con riconoscenza e da vivere con rettitudine. A voi, cari malati, il nuovo anno porti consolazione nel corpo e nello spirito. E voi, cari sposi novelli, ponetevi alla scuola della Santa Famiglia di Nazareth, per imparare a realizzare un'autentica comunione di vita e d'amore."