Responding in Prayer
The Church in China
The Holy Father in his letter to the Catholics of the Peoples Republic of China asked that 24 May the Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, which is venerated with great devotion at the Marian shrine at Sheshan in Shanghai, be marked as day of prayer for the Church in China.
My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her lowliness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength
and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons for ever.
Prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan
Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians",
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.
From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.
Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever.
Pope Benedict XVI
For the Church in China;
may it persevere in witness to the faith.
For the Church throughout the world;
may it be a visible sign of unity.
- Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics
- Aid to the Church in Need
- Download these texts as a pdf
The feast of Our Lady Help of Christians can be traced back to Loreto in 16th century. It is associated with European response to the threat of the Ottoman empire. Pope Pius VII who was exiled from Rome under Napoleon placed himself under the protection of Our Lady Help of Christians and returned to Rome on 24 May 1815. Though not marked in the Universal Calendar the feast is the patronal solemnity of Australia and the diocese of Shrewsbury. The Magnificat is a Gospel for the Feast.
The national shrine of Our Lady Help of Christian at Sheshan, 40km south of Shanghai, was founded in 1871 in thanksgiving for saving Shanghai from an anti-Christian massacre. The present basilica was built in 1925–1931.
Magnificat © The Grail (England) 1963