[ Table of Contents | Onward ]


The renewal of Marian theology and devotion-in continuity with Catholic tradition-is another distinctive characteristic of the teaching and pastoral activity of John Paul II. Totus Tuus ("I am completely yours, O Mary") is the motto you chose for your papacy.

Furthermore, for some time now there have been rumors and reports of mysterious apparitions and messages of the Virgin Mary; as in earlier centuries, crowds of people are setting out on pilgrimage. Your Holiness, what can you tell us about this?

Totus Tuus. This phrase is not only an expression of piety, or simply an expression of devotion. It is more. During the Second World War, while I was employed as a factory worker, I came to be attracted to Marian devotion. At first, it had seemed to me that I should distance myself a bit from the Marian devotion of my childhood, in order to focus more on Christ. Thanks to Saint Louis of Montfort, I came to understand that true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.

And so, I rediscovered Marian piety, this time with a deeper understanding. This mature form of devotion to the Mother of God has stayed with me over the years, bearing fruit in the encyclicals Redemptoris Mater and Mulieris Dignitatem.

In regard to Marian devotion, each of us must understand that such devotion not only addresses a need of the heart, a sentimental inclination, but that it also corresponds to the objective truth about the Mother of God. Mary is the new Eve, placed by God in close relation to Christ, the new Adam, beginning with the Annunciation, through the night of His birth in Bethlehem, through the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee, through the Cross at Calvary, and up to the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Mother of Christ the Redeemer is the Mother of the Church.

The Second Vatican Council made great strides forward with regard to both Marian doctrine and devotion. It is impossible to include here in its entirety the marvelous eighth chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, but it should be done. When I participated in the Council, I found reflected in this chapter all my earlier youthful experiences, as well as those special bonds which continue to unite me to the Mother of God in ever new ways.

The first way-and the oldest-is tied to all the times during my childhood that I stopped before the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the parish church of Wadowice. It is tied to the tradition of the Carmelite scapular, rich in meaning and symbolism, which I knew from my youth through the Carmelite convent "on the hill" in my home town. It is also tied to the tradition of making pilgrimages to the shrine of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, one of those places that

draw crowds of pilgrims, especially from the south of Poland and from beyond the Carpathian Mountains. This local shrine is remarkable because it is not only Marian but also profoundly focused on Christ. During their stay at the shrine of Kalwaria, the first thing the pilgrims do is to make their way along a Via

Crucis (Way of the Cross) in which, through Mary, humanity finds its rightful place alongside Christ. The Crucifix stands at the top of a hill dominating the entire area around the sanctuary. The solemn Marian procession, which takes place before the solemnity of the Assumption, is nothing else but

the expression of faith of the Christian people that the Mother of God shares in a unique way in the

Resurrection and in the Glory of her own Son.

From my earliest years, my own devotion to Mary was deeply joined to my faith in Christ. The shrine of Kalwaria helped me greatly in this.

Another chapter in my life is Jasna Góra, with its icon of the Black Madonna. Our Lady of Jasna Góra has been venerated for centuries as the Queen of Poland. This shrine belongs to the entire country. The Polish nation has sought for centuries, and continues to seek, support and strength for spiritual rebirth from its Lady and Queen. At Jasna Góra a special evangelization comes about. The great events in the life of Poland have always been tied to this place in some way. Both the ancient and modern history of my nation have their deepest roots there on the hill of Jasna Góra.

I think what I have said sufficiently explains the Marian devotion of the present Pope and, above all, his attitude of total abandonment to Mary-his Totus Tuus.