You may not recognize his name but if you have ever been to Rome and gone to the Pantheon, then you know some of his his work: Boniface transformed the Pantheon from a pagan temple to a church and consecrated it to "St. Mary and the Martyrs", thus preserving it for all time, at least until Contstans II and later the Barberinis stripped it of its bronze ("Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini!").
But if that were all he did, then history would be the only memory of him. We name him "saint" for his charity and his holiness.
This maternal gaze, which instills confidence and trust, helps us to grow in faith. Faith is a bond with God that engages the whole person; to be preserved, it needs the Mother of God. Her maternal gaze helps us see ourselves as beloved children in God’s faithful people, and to love one another regardless of our individual limitations and approaches. Our Lady keeps us rooted in the Church, where unity counts more than diversity; she encourages us to care for one another. Mary’s gaze reminds us that faith demands a tenderness that can save us from becoming lukewarm. Tenderness: the Church of tenderness. Tenderness is a word that today many want to remove from the dictionary. When faith makes a place for the Mother of God, we never lose sight of the center: the Lord, for Mary never points to herself but to Jesus; and our brothers and sisters, for Mary is mother.
The gaze of the Mother, and the gaze of every mother. A world that looks to the future without a mother’s gaze is shortsighted. It may well increase its profits, but it will no longer see others as children. It will make money, but not for everyone. We will all dwell in the same house, but not as brothers and sisters. The human family is built upon mothers. A world in which maternal tenderness is dismissed as mere sentiment may be rich materially, but poor where the future is concerned. Mother of God, teach us to see life as you do. Turn your gaze upon us, upon our misery, our poverty. Turn to us your eyes of mercy.
– Pope Francis, from the homily for the Solemnity Of Mary, Mother Of God, 2019
Things to Think About