Charity registration No. SC002876   Sunday March 17th. 2013 Page 1 Page 3 Page 2 Page 4 Main Menu Excerpts from Pope Francis’ homily to the Cardinals It is always the custom for every newly-elected Pope to pay homage to Our Lady in her Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to seek her prayers and guidance. Pope Francis laid a bouquet on the altar and then spent some time in prayer to Our Lady. Built in 8 years from 432 to 440, Santa Maria Maggiore sits on the summit of the Esquiline Hill, on a place that legend says was the location of an August snowstorm in 358. A childless couple was visited by the Virgin during their sleep and were told to build a church on the spot where snow fell the next morning in mid-August in the height of the Roman summer.. This led to the church first being called Santa Maria Della Neve (St Mary of the Snow). Every year in August the legend is re-enacted by people who drop white flower petals from the dome during the feast day festival. Over the centuries the church was expanded and remodelled, but its interior remains true to its original construction; its layout looks very much like a 1st. century Roman basilica. Pope Francis warned of spiritual and ecclesiastical disaster if the church’s leaders fail to commit their lives and ministry to Jesus and to follow Christ’s example of painful self-sacrifice. When we don't build on the rock, what happens? It's what happens to children when they build a sand castle and it all then falls down," the new pontiff said. Referring to the gospels in which Peter was the first disciple to say that Jesus was the Son of God but rebelled at the idea of his crucifixion, Pope Francis said that those who profess faith in Christ must also accept the cross.  “When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross, when we profess a Christ without the cross . . . we aren’t disciples of the Lord. We are worldly. We are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord,” he told the cardinals."I would like for all of us, after these days of grace, that we find courage to walk in the presence of God ... and to build the church with the blood of Christ. Only this way will the church move forward. Also according to the Vatican Press Office translation, he said that no matter how many good things the church does, “If we do not witness to Jesus Christ, then it doesn’t matter. We might become a philanthropic national organisation, but we wouldn’t be the church, the bride of the Lord.” Earlier on Thursday, he paid a visit to Rome's main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary where he laid a bouquet of flowers at Our Lady's statue, and consecrated himself to the service of her Son. Having chosen the name Francis for his pontificate, he will endeavour to follow the life style of the saint as much as this is possible