On November 21, 2013, Pope Francis visited the Benedictine Camaldolese Monastery of Sant’Antonio Abate on the Roman Aventine Hill, on the occasion of the World Day of Contemplative Life (Pro Orantibus Day) and the Year of Faith, which is drawing to a close. The Bishop of Rome was received by the abbess, Sr. Michella Porcellato, and entered the Church where the twenty-one sisters of the community awaited him. He presided the Vespers, following the Camaldolese rite, and following a brief Eucharistic adoration, he pronounced a homily, ample extracts of which we publish below. “Mary is the mother of hope, the most expressive icon of Christian hope. Her entire life was a succession of attitudes of hope, beginning with her ‘yes’ at the moment of the Annunciation. … Then, in Bethlehem, where He Who was announced to her as the Savior of Israel and as the Messiah was born into poverty. Subsequently, when she presented Him at the temple in Jerusalem, alongside the joy of Simeon and Anna there was also the promise of the sword that would pierce her heart, and the prophecy of a sign of contradiction.” “Mary is aware that the mission and the very identity of her Son overshadow the fact of her being His mother. … Yet, before all the difficulties and surprises of God’s plan, the Virgin’s hope never falters! She is a woman of hope. This shows us that hope is nurtured by listening, contemplation, and patience, for the Lord’s time to come. … With the beginning of His public life, Jesus becomes the Master and the Messiah: the Virgin looks upon her Son’s mission with elation but also with apprehension, as Jesus increasingly becomes that sign of contradiction that the elderly Simeon had prophesied. At the foot of the Cross, she experiences suffering but at the same time watchfully awaits a mysterious event, greater than pain, that is about to take place. Everything truly appears to have finished; every hope could be said to have been extinguished. She, too, in that moment, recollecting the promises of the Annunciation, could have said: they did not come true, I was deceived. But she did not say this. Blessed because she believed, from this faith of hers she sees a new future unfold, and with awaits God’s new day”. “At times I think: do we know how to await God’s new day? Or do we want it all today? God’s tomorrow is for her the dawn of Easter morning. … The only light burning at Jesus’ tomb is the hope of His mother, which in that moment is the hope of all humanity. I ask myself, and you: in the monasteries, is that light still burning? In monasteries, do you await God’s tomorrow?” “In Mary, present in every moment of the history of salvation, we see a solid testimony of hope. She, the mother of hope, supports us in our moments of darkness, of difficulty, of discomfort, of apparent defeat or true human defeats.” To listen to a Vatican Radio report on the Pope’s visit and on Benedictine Camaldolese life click here.