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Pope Emphasizes Role of Women in Christianity

After praying the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo yesterday, he spoke about the mystery of the Resurrection and the critical role women have played in salvation history.

Vatican Radio is reporting that the pope spoke on Easter Monday, a day that is traditionally set aside for rest and recreation in many countries, but said the real meaning of the holiday is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

None of the Gospel writers describe the actual event of the Resurrection, he said, which causes it to "remain mysterious - not as something unreal, but as something beyond the reach of our knowledge - as a light so bright the eyes cannot bear it."

He went on to describe the account of Easter morning according to St. Matthew, who speaks of an earthquake, a bright angel who rolls away the stone at the entrance of the tomb, and the faithful women who were the first to discover this miracle. When they met the Risen Lord, they fell at His feet as Jesus said, "Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee: there shall they see me" (Matthew 28:10).

The pope then went on to emphasize the important role that women play in the Gospel accounts of the appearances of the risen Jesus, as they did in His passion and death.

"In those days, in Israel," said Pope Benedict, "women's testimony could have no official legal value." Nevertheless, "women have experienced a special bond with the Lord, which is crucial for the practical life of the Christian community, and this always, in every age, not only at the beginning of the Church's pilgrim journey."

He then referred to the woman par excellence, Mary, the Mother of God, who is the most exemplary model of the women's relationship with Jesus, particularly in His paschal mystery. It was the transformative experience of following Christ through His suffering, death and resurrection, that made Mary the Mother of the Church.

He concluded with a prayer: "May Mary obtain for us that we too might experience the living presence of the Risen Lord, source of hope and peace."

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