PRAYER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO OUR LADY OF SHESHAN
ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER
FOR THE CHURCH IN CHINA (24 MAY 2008)
Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians”,
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.
From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.
Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
Significance of the Statue of Our Lady of Sheshan
The Statue of Our Lady of Sheshan has three images: Jesus Christ, Blessed Mother, and the Dragon
Jesus Christ is being illustrated as a child with arms outstretched. It is symbolic of the Cross. Christ and the Cross are inseparable from each other. He is being raised up, which means that Christ is over and above every creature and His Cross is the apex and goal of all human sufferings. The Cross shaped arms outstretched of Christ symbolizes also the Passion of Christ which will be the sign of triumph over death through His resurrection. Beneath Christ and the Mother is the Dragon which symbolizes the triumph over the Devil.
The Blessed Mother is presented to us as lifting Christ over her head which symbolizes greatness of Christ as God over other creature. Since Christ is presented as having arms outstretched in the form of a cross, Mary is illustrated as lifting up the Cross. She presents to the world the Cross of Her Son which bring salvation to the world. The eyes of the Blessed Mother is facing downwards manifesting love and compassion to the people in their valley of tears. Her eyes facing downwards with Jesus lifted up symbolize a mother’s love and care for all people. With Mary and Jesus lifted up forms like the Chinese character of “luck,” it is said that some Catholic Chinese call her “Our Lady of Luck.”
The Dragon in Western art is symbolic of the Devil. Underneath is dragon subdued by Our Lady and of Christ. In the last days, Christ will triumph over death which is the nature of the Devil. The wings that are being manifested as lifted up symbolize the last fierce struggle of the Devil but finally submitting itself to the Blessed Mother (cf Rev. 12:1-18) The Statue of the Blessed Mother and Christ over the Dragon symbolize the victory of God over evil.