On 4 November 1984, during his journeying as a pilgrim on the footsteps of St Charles Borromeo, Pope John Paul II paid a visit to our Santuario in occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the first miracle of Holy Child Mary. His appeal that we may ever more faithfully follow the path of Gospel littleness in the spiritual climate of our devotion to the Child Mary, has remained in the heart of our Institute as a refreshingly sweet grace (cf. inscription on the marble slab on the left side wall of the Santuario).
1st May 2013: a new, refreshing atmosphere pervaded the hearts of Sisters in prayer. The organ sent waves of solemnity all around. The choir of the Generalate sang praise to the Lord in the heavens (Ps 148). Cardinal A. Scola, Archbishop of Milan, entered in procession by the central entrance, carrying the reliquary with a relic of Blessed John Paul II: a little ampulla containing blood that had been preserved, as if by foresight, by Sister Superior of "Policlinico Gemelli", Rome, after a blood test had been done on the Pope.
It was then placed in a tiny niche, prepared by Scuola del Beato Angelico, in the altar of the Assumption, a painting depicting also Saints Bartolomea and Vincenza. In the procession right behind the Cardinal walked four Sisters bearing flowers, lamp, cartagloria certifying that the relic is genuine, and a photo taken in his 1984 visit of the Pope standing at the main altar. Then came the seven co-celebrants (Fr Luciano Capra the Cardinal's Secretary, Mgr C. Faccendini, Mgr A. Piantanida, Mgr Giordano Ronchi, Mgr E. Apeciti, Fr A. Anastasi and Mgr Claudio Fontana parish priest of St Euphemia Parish).
There was a moment of deep, meaningful silence, after which the Eucharistic Celebration in memory of Blessed John Paul II started in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, source and model of the communion among the faithful and with Jesus our Lord.
In a moving address to Cardinal Scola, Sr. Annamaria Viganò Superior General traced the international features of the Sisters present, representing the entire Institute. During the Liturgy of the Word the Archbishop spoke of the debt of gratitude he owed to Pope Vojtyla and to our Congregation, as in fact he also noted in the Visitors' Register of Masses before he left: "With deep joy I celebrated the Eucharist on this special occasion. I am grateful to God for my friendship with Blessed John Paul II and to the Sisters for the valuable, fruitful charism for the benefit of the Church, in particular of the Ambrosian Church".
Then, in a familiar, well-measured tone, fond memories, sentiments of esteem and affection and exquisitely spiritual reflections flowed in wondrous harmony and delicate sense of balance. Priests celebrating at the altar and other ministers of the Eucharist occupied the whole presbytery, giving to the ceremony an atmosphere of solemnity and grandeur.
As he left at the end of the celebration in Ambrosian rite, Cardinal Scola seemed to give the Sisters on both sides of the aisle what his fatherly smile and pastoral blessing stood for: a further reminder to bear an ever firm, new witness to our prophetic mission in the happenings and life of the Church.
From her niche high above, in the apsis adorned with flowers in mosaic, Maria Bambina smiled with pleasure: Pope John Paul is back in our midst!
Suor Carmela Paloschi