One of the legacies of Pope Benedict XIV is his plea to Catholics throughout the world to pray for the Chinese Church, especially on the memorial feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, May 24. The following is a prayer that Pope Benedict composed in May 2008. He asked that the prayer, which asks for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the titles Our Lady of She Shan and Our Lady Help of Christians, be recited and that the day be designated a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.
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 you 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!
Prayer for the Church in China
We pray for Christians in China,
That they may know God’s loving presence and the solidarity of fellow Christians around the world, especially when times are difficult. Help them to be faithful witnesses to the Gospel and open their arms in love for one another as they try to speak of Jesus to the world and of the world to Jesus.
Lord in your mercy . . . . Hear our prayer