In keeping with a pre-Christmas tradition of meeting with university students, the Holy Father presided at Vespers in the Vatican Basilica with students from Roman universities on Thursday at five P.M. "The God of Abraham", the Pontiff said in his homily, "revealed Himself, He showed His face and came to dwell in our flesh, in Jesus the Son of Mary - true God and true man - Whom we will meet once again at the Manger in Bethlehem. To return there, to that humble and cramped place, is not simply a mental journey; it is a path we are called to follow by experiencing the closeness of God here and now, and His action which renews and sustains our lives". He told them that the road to the Manger of Bethlehem is a journey of inner liberation, an experience of profound freedom, because it encourages every one to emerge from ourselves and to move towards God, who has come close to us. The Holy Father added that in our own time we feel the need for a new class of intellectuals capable of interpreting social and cultural dynamics, and of proposing solutions that are not abstract, but concrete and realistic. Universities are called to play this vital role, in which the Church will provide her committed and effective support. The Roman university community which is made up of State, private, Catholic and Pontifical institutions, must, said Pope Benedict XVI, "play an important historical role: that of overcoming the misunderstandings and prejudices which at times hinder the development of authentic culture. Working together, especially with faculties of theology, Roman universities can show that it is possible to implement a new dialogue and new collaboration between Christian faith and the various fields of knowledge, without confusion or separation but sharing the same aspiration to serve man in his entirety". At the end of the ceremony, an African university delegation consigned the image of "Maria Sedes Sapientiae" to a delegation of Spanish students. The image will be taken on pilgrimage to all Spanish universities in preparation for World Youth Day, due to be held in the Spanish capital Madrid in August next year.