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Saturday, 22 January 2005


Your Eminence,
Dear Students of the Almo Collegio Capranica,

1. This year too, I welcome you with joy on the occasion of the feast of St Agnes, your heavenly patroness. I offer each one of you a cordial greeting. I first greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini and thank him for his words of filial devotion and spiritual closeness on your behalf. I greet your Rector, Mons. Ermenegildo Manicardi, the superiors, alumni and all who collaborate with your formation, dear students, who have embarked on the educational curriculum that the Church proposes in order to train for the ordained ministry.

During your years at the Collegio Capranica the Lord's grace shapes your personalities so that you acquire an effective presence in the Christian community and in society.

2. If you are to make a correct discernment, it is indispensable that you take part in an intense and trusting dialogue at various levels with your superiors and with your fellow students. You also need to pay constant attention to what the Church and the world, and especially the poor, expect of you.
Persevere in listening docilely to Christian tradition, making your own in a special way the principal values typical of the "Capranica family". Moreover, you should combine with the study of the theological sciences meditation on God's Word and an intense, personal conversation with Jesus, our divine Teacher.

Above all, may the Eucharist be your lives' reference point:  may the sacrament which is "the sum and summary of our faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1327) become in the reality of daily life the source of grace that prompts your action and the summit of perfection to which you constantly aspire.

3. Twenty-five years ago I had the opportunity to visit your Almo Collegio. Recently you desired to commemorate this event with a congress dedicated to the theology of priesthood and the historical forms that from the outset have characterized the formation process at your Institute. May this important anniversary be a further incentive to you to grow in communion with the Successor of Peter and in love for the Church.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, and beloved St Agnes, the mystical bride of the Lamb, sustain you with their intercession and example. I cordially impart my Blessing to you all.


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