~from L'Osservatore Romano translated in Papa Ratzinger Forum
A people in feast welcome their beloved Pastor with open arms
By GIAMPAOLO MATTEI
The city of Velletri where Benedict XVI is making a pastoral visit this morning has two historic gates. One opens north towards Rome, and it is from there that the Successor of Peter will arrive with his Pilgrim's Staff, carrying in his 'spiritual knapsack' the riches of his recent trips to Loreto and Mariazell.
Velletri's other gate opens south towards Naples, the splendid city where Benedict XVI will be making his next pastoral visit on Sunday, October 21.
Velletri is another Marian port of call for the Holy Father. After having prayed at the Holy House in Loreto and at the Sanctuary of Mariazell, Benedict XVI this time will kneel before the venerated icon of the Madonna delle Grazie, in the Chapel of the Cathedral of San Clemente, Patroness of a diocese that has 12 out of its 27 parishes dedicated to Mary.
Joseph Ratzinger is paternally and profoundly linked to the suburban church of Velletri-Segni where he was the titular cardinal from 1993 until he became Pope. One can really say that every person in the diocese has a memory of the many visits made by Cardinal Ratzinger and so many signs of his pastoral attention.
Thus the people who live the Christian faith in this city so near to Rome, and for centuries so united to Peter, will experience the meeting today with the Holy Father as a homecoming. This pastoral visit will have the characteristic of simple familiarity in addition to the universality of the Church.
Moreover, starting today, Piazza San Clemente will be home to a commemorative column. donated by a hundred Bavarian municipalities, that was a gift for the Holy Father's 80th birthday last April. A similar column was erected in Marktl am Inn, the Pope's birthplace,
during his visit to Bavaria last year.
The column expresses the link between the Church of Velletri-Segni and the Successor of Peter. It is a reminder of the power of his Magisterium with his continual exhortation to conversion in the certainty that the God who is Love has a Face in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth.