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Background: World Day of the Sick

February 11, 2011

February 11 is the 19th World Day of the Sick, a commemoration instituted by Venerable John Paul II. The title of Pope Benedict’s message for the day is entitled “By his wounds you have been healed.” The message begins:

Every year, on the day of the memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, which is celebrated on 11 February, the Church proposes the World Day of the Sick. This event, as the Venerable John Paul II wanted, becomes a propitious occasion to reflect upon the mystery of suffering and above all to make our communities and civil society more sensitive to our sick brothers and sisters. If every man is our brother, much more must the sick, the suffering and those in need of care be, at the center of our attention, so that none of them feels forgotten or emarginated; indeed, the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through “com-passion” is a cruel and inhuman society.

In his letter instituting the commemoration, Pope John Paul wrote that the day should be “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ who, by suffering, dying, and rising, achieved the salvation of mankind.”


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