The Pope celebrated Mass today in the Piazza del Popolo, in Savona, Liguria, very close to the house in which the tyrannical Bonaparte kept the exiled Pope Pius VII under observation as Italy was occupied by the Forces of Napoleon and the Papal States were abolished, in 1809. In his homily, Benedict had extremely important words for all Christians:
[M]y visit to Savona, on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, is above all a pilgrimage, through Mary, to the fountains of faith, of hope, and of love. A pilgrimage which also is remembrance and homage to my venerated predecessor Pius VII, whose dramatic life is indissolubly linked to this city and to its Marian shrine [Our Lady of Mercy].
With the distance of two centuries, I come to renew the expression of the recognition of the Holy See and of all the Church for the faith, the love, and the courage with which your fellow citizens sustained the Pope in his forced residence, imposed upon him by Napoleon Bonaparte, in this City. Numerous testimonies of the gestures of solidarity to the Pontiff by the Savonesi, at times even at personal risk, are preserved. They are episodes which the Savonesi of today may remember with pride.
As your Bishop has fairly observed, that dark page of the history of Europe became, by the power of the Holy Spirit, rich of graces and of teachings, even for our days. It teaches us the courage to confront the challenges of the world, Materialism, Relativism, Laicism, without ever yielding to compromises, willing to pay in person in order to remain faithful to the Lord and to his Church. The example of serene firmness given by Pope Pius VII invites us to keep the faith in God unchanged in the trials, in the knowledge that He, if also allowing difficult moments for his Church, never abandons her. The event lived by the great Pontiff in your land invites us to always trust in the intercession and in the maternal assistance of Mary Most Holy.