We were blessed to have Pope Francis come to Philadelphia this past weekend for the World Meeting of Families. On Saturday evening during the Festival of Families he gave an impromptu speech which really spoke to me.
“Children and young people are the future, they are the strength, those who take us forward. They are the ones in which we place our hope. Grandparents are the memory of a family, they are the ones who gave us the faith, transmitted to us the faith.” ~ Pope Francis
The patron saints of the World Meeting of Families were St. John Paul II and St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Excellent choices! St. John Paul II was declared “the pope of the family” upon his canonization. St. Gianna was a pediatrician and mother of four. She is the patron saint of mothers, physicians and unborn children. She is best known for her selfless love as a mother giving her life to bear her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela Molla, in 1962. Gianna Emanuela is an actual first-class relic and was in attendance at the WMOF all week, graciously offering herself to the faithful.
Pope Francis has a special devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. While he was studying in Germany in the 1980s, he discovered this devotion at the Church of St. Peter am Perlach in Augsburg. In the church there is a painting from about 1700 that depicts Mary in heaven surrounded by angels. She stands on a crescent moon crushing the head of the serpent, Satan. She holds a long ribbon and is untying a large knot, one of several on the ribbon.
This devotion had a profound impact on the devotional life of Pope Francis. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he introduced and encouraged the devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.
Pope Francis made an unscheduled visit to the Mary, Undoer of Knots Grotto in front of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. The grotto has about 100,000 prayers written on strips of cloth. Pope Francis said a private prayer at the grotto and blessed the knots during his visit.
Prayer to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
O Virgin Mary, faithful Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of your children; Mother whose hands never cease to help, because they are moved by the loving kindness that exists in your Immaculate Heart, cast your eyes of compassion upon me, and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life. You know all of the pains and sorrows caused by these tangled knots. Mary, my Mother, I entrust to your loving hands the entire ribbon of my life. In your hands there is no knot which cannot be undone.
Most holy Mother, pray for Divine assistance to come to my aid. Take this knot (mention need) into your maternal hands this day; I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once and for all, in the name of your Divine Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.