VATICAN CITY, MAY 10, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning welcomed Bishop Rene Sejour of Saint-Flour, France and a delegation of diocesan pilgrims who are in Rome to celebrate the millennium of the death of Pope Sylvester II, who died on May 12, 1003.
Calling Sylvester II "the Pope of the Year 1000" and "the most cultured man of his time," John Paul II underscored that "Gerbert d'Aurillac dominated his century in a singular way by his knowledge and his erudition, his moral uprightness and his spiritual sense. He was at one and the same time an intellectual and a man of action, a diplomat and a man of the Church. If today's questions are different from those he had to face, his spiritual and intellectual attitude remains a call to seek human truth, which is never opposed to the truths of faith. 'Always unite,' he used to say, 'science and faith'."
The Pope noted that Sylvester II belonged to the Benedictine Order "whose different houses contributed to fashioning Europe. Archbishop of Reims, then of Ravenna, in 999 he became the first Pope of French origin. ... In the year 1000 he created in Gniezno the first metropolitan Church in Poland, among whose suffragans was the diocese of Krakow where I was pastor."
"Gerbert contributed to the intellectual renaissance and vitality of the continent," noted the Holy Father. "His example helps us to understand that Europe can only be built if it assumes, with lucidity, its Christian roots, ... an essential dimension of its identity, having left their imprint on the cultural, artistic, juridical and philosophical production of the continent."
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