On May 24, 1981, thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the customary Marian prayer. Although they knew the Holy Father would not appear at his window, they had come to pray with him and for him. The following is the message they heard, taped earlier at the Gemelli Hospital.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Today I wish to address myself in a special way to all the sick, expressing to them — I, a sick man like them — a word of comfort and of hope.

When, on the day following my election to the See of Peter, I came on a visit to the Polyclinic Gemelli, I mentioned that I wished to entrust my papal ministry particularly to the support of those who suffer.

Providence has ordained that I should return to the Polyclinic Gemelli as a patient. I now reaffirm the same conviction as on that previous occasion: suffering, accepted in union with the suffering Christ, has an incomparable efficacy for the implementation of the divine plan of salvation. I repeat; therefore, with St. Paul: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that the Church” (Col 1:24).

I invite all the sick to join with me in offering their sufferings to Christ for the good of the Church and of humanity. May Mary Most Holy, sustain and strengthen us.