World Day of the Sick

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Pope Benedict XVI placing a crown on a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes on the World Day of the Sick. 11 February 2007. Saint Peter's Basilica. Pope Benedict XVI placing a novelty crown on Our Lady of Lourdes on occasion for the sick pilgrims, 11 February 2007.jpg
Pope Benedict XVI placing a crown on a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes on the World Day of the Sick. 11 February 2007. Saint Peter's Basilica.

The World Day of the Sick is an awareness day, or observance, in the Catholic Church intended for "prayer and sharing, of offering one's suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ". [2] The day was instituted on May 13, 1992 by Pope John Paul II and is celebrated on February 11, also the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Day is not a liturgical celebration.



Pope John Paul II had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease as early as 1991, [3] an illness which was only confirmed in 2001, [4] and it is significant that he decided to create the World Day of the Sick only one year after his diagnosis. The pope had written a great deal on the topic of suffering and believed that it was very much a salvific and redeeming process through Christ, as he indicated in his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris. [5]

He chose the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes for the date of the observance because many pilgrims and visitors to Lourdes, France, have been reported to have been healed at the Marian Sanctuary there through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The pope also venerated the sanctuary of Harissa in Lebanon.

In 2005, the World Day of the Sick had a special significance since the ailing pope later died on April 2 of that year. Many people had gathered in St. Peter's Square in Rome to pray for him as he lay dying.

In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on this day, and he gave his declining health as his reason for retiring.

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  1. The event was not a rite of Canonical coronation, nor a re-coronation of the image at the Rosary basilica.
  2. Paul II, John (21 October 1992). "Message of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II for the First Annual World Day of the Sick". The Holy See. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  3. Pisa, Nick (19 March 2006). "Vatican Hid Pope's Parkinson's Disease Diagnosis for 12 years" . The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 January 2012. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  4. "Profile: Pope John Paul II". 2005-02-01. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  5. Paul II, John (11 February 1984). "Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris". The Holy See. Retrieved 2021-01-06.