Inauguration of the statue of St Michael the Archangel in the Vatican Gardens

2013-07-06 L’Osservatore Romano

An extraordinary presence graced the unveiling of the statue of St Michael the Archangel outside the Governorate, and for the consecration of Vatican City State to St Joseph, as well as to the Archangel: that of Benedict XVI beside Pope Francis. It was Benedict XVI's first public appearance since the day of his renunciation.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate, gave a brief greeting to Pope Francis and Benedict XVI. “The consecration of the Governorate to St Joseph”, he said, “becomes for each one of us a further commitment to the fulfillment of our work in support of the Holy See’s many activities. May the example of Mary’s humble and silent husband guide us in our daily occupations, bless our families, and incite us to always be witnesses of the Risen Lord”.

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President emeritus of the Governorate, then explained the significance of the new monument and stressed how Pope Francis wanted the work to be adorned with a double coat of arms: his own and that of Benedict XVI. The aesthetic criteria that guided the artist, the Cardinal said, “reflects a conception of art as a reflection of the beauty with which God has filled creation, and in particular, the creature that he created in his image and likeness, the human creature, the closest in the scale of beings to the splendour of the angelic creatures”. This is why, he added, Michael the Archangel is “shown here with the heroic traits of the human figure, while Satan, whom he defeated, is represented with a figure of the same shape, but altered and disfigured, as a consequence of sin”. Pope Francis then put on a red stole and recited two prayers of consecration: the first to St Joseph and the second to St Michael the Archangel. In the act of consecration to St Joseph, the Pope placed the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, who work in the Vatican, under the protection of Mary’s husband.