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his historic "Year of the Rosary" with a final appeal for Catholics to use the prayer in the cause of world peace.
Regular recitation of the Rosary could ensure global peace as well as family stability, the Pope declared last week.
John Paul II said the Marian prayer, his personal favourite, was the chief weapon in the armoury of Catholics everywhere against the rising tide of world terrorism "The disconcerting attacks of September II, 2001, and what has happened in the world since then, have increased tension at the global level," he told 16,000 Catholics gathered in St Peter's Square, Rome.
"In face of these worrying situations, to recite the beads of the rosary is not to retreat into oneself, but a conscious choice of faith.
" Contemplating the face of Christ, our peace and our reconciliation, we wish to implore from God the gift of peace, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy.
"We ask her for the necessary strength to be builders of peace, beginning with daily life in the family".
The 83-year-old Pontiff went on to describe the family as "the fust realm in which the peace of Christ is received, cultivated and guarded-.
John Paul then exhorted families to pray together, saying: "In our days, however, without prayer it becomes ever more difficult for the family to realise its vocation.The family that prays together stays together."
His remarks closed the Year of the Rosary, a special time of Marian devotion that began in October, the month of the Holy Rosary, last year.
The Pope called for the Year of the Rosary in his apostolic letter, Rasarium Virginis Mariae, as a preparation for celebrations to mark his 25th anniversary as Pope last month.
"I am profoundly grateful to God for this time of grace, in which the whole ecclesial community has been able to reflect on the value and importance of the rosary, as a Christological and contemplative prayer," John Paul II said in his prepared address, the majority of which he himself delivered.
"Desirous of reflecting ever more the mystery • of Christ, the Church enters the school of Mary to meditate on the mysteries of his Gospel," he said.
"This is Mary's way, the path on which she carried out her exemplary pilgrimage of faith, as first disciple of the Incarnate Word.
"It is, at the same time, the way of an authentic Marian devotion, centered totally on the relation that exists between Christ and his most Holy Mother.
John Paul concluded his address by reminding the faithful that over the coming year he has commended to the world's one billion Catholics "two great prayer intentions — peace and the family".
John Paul is arguably one of the most overtly Marian pope's in history. He credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life from an assassination attempt and added an extra mystery to the rosary.