I like to repeat to myself, “Do not be afraid, am I not here, your Mother?”
Pope Francis is very devoted to Our Lady, and particularly to her manifestation as Our Lady of Guadalupe. He has celebrated Mass in the Vatican multiple times on her feast day.
Here is a selection of some of the many times he’s spoken of his fondness and admiration for her, and the descriptions he uses.
1. A mother who unites her children
Celebrating Mary is, first and foremost, remembering our mother, remembering that we are not and never will be an orphaned people. We have a Mother! And where there is a mother, there is always the presence and flavor of home. Where there is a mother, brothers and sisters may fight, but the sense of unity will always prevail. … This is how Mary is. Mary is this way with us: we are her children: a woman who fights against the society of distrust and blindness, the society of apathy and dispersion; a woman who fights to strengthen the joy of the Gospel, who fights to give “flesh” to the Gospel.
Looking to Our Lady of Guadalupe reminds us that the Lord’s visit always passes through those who manage to “make flesh” his Word, who seek to embody the life of God within themselves, becoming living signs of his mercy.
~ Homily, 12 December 2016
2. A mother embracing us, and our joys and sorrows
Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation.
When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come. Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.
~ General Audience, 11 December 2013
3. A mother who gives us her Son
[Speaking of Juan Diego]: When his uncle was sick, he was quite worried and distressed. Then, the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to him and said, “Let not your heart be disturbed or upset by anything. Am I not here with you, I who am your mother?”
We have Mary as our Mother, and so let us ask her to give us the gift of her son, Jesus.
~Visit to children’s hospital during apostolic visit to Mexico, 14 February 2016
4. A mother who listens to our secrets
I asked for the world, for peace. Many things. The poor woman ended up with [a lot on her mind] her head like this [he extends his arms above his head]. I asked forgiveness, I asked that the Church grow in health, I prayed on behalf of the Mexican people. And another thing I also asked wholeheartedly for was that priests be true priests, and nuns be true nuns, and bishops be true bishops: the way the Lord wants us to be. I asked this wholeheartedly. But other than that, the things a son says to his mother are somewhat secret.
~On the return flight from Mexico, explaining what he had said to Our Lady of Guadalupe during his 30-minute silent prayer before her, 17 February 2016
5. A mother who banishes fear
[Asked in an interview prior to his trip to Mexico what Our Lady of Guadalupe represents for him]: Security, tenderness. Sometimes I am afraid of certain problems or something unpleasant happens and I do not know how to react, and I pray to her. I like to repeat to myself, “Do not be afraid, am I not here, your Mother?” They are her words: “Do not be afraid.” … I feel this, that she is our Mother, who cares, protects and leads a people, who leads a family, who gives the warmth of home, who caresses with tenderness and who banishes fear. … It is an eloquent image, that of a Mother like a blanket who covers and cares, in the midst of her people. … This is what I feel before Her. …
~ Interview 3 February 2016
6. A mother more close than anyone
She knew closeness more than anyone else. She is a woman who journeyed with a mother’s sensitivity and tenderness; she becomes a guest in family life, looses the knots of the many problems we manage to create, and teaches us to remain standing amid the storms.
~ Mass, 12 December 2018