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Pope reflects on Divine Mercy feast day March 31, 2008

At a midday audience on Sunday, March 30, in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the day's feast of Divine Mercy, a feast instituted by Pope John Paul II in the Jubilee year 2000.

The late Pope set the feast on the liturgical calendar, to be held on the Sunday after Easter. He announced that move as he canonized St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun who popularized the Divine Mercy devotion.

"Like Sister Faustina, John Paul II was also an apostle of Divine Mercy," Pope Benedict said. He recalled that his predecessor died on the eve of the new feast." Pope John Paul, he said, constantly called the attention of the faithful back to "the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God's mercy."

The proclamation of God's mercy, the Pontiff said, "is the central nucleus of the evangelical message." The Church, he said, carries out the mission of mercy, offering God's grace through the sacraments-- and, he noted, making God's mercy particularly evident in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Pope Benedict reminded his audience that he would celebrate Mass on April 2 in St. Peter's Square to mark the anniversary of his predecessor's death and to open the First World Congress on Divine Mercy.

The Pope held his March 30 audience at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, where he was resting during the week after Easter. He returned to the Vatican on Sunday night.

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