On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Pope prays for peace

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On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Pope prays for peaceOn the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis stops at the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major to pay homage to ancient Roman icon of 'Maria Salus Populi Romani', and then goes to Rome’s central Piazza di Spagna for the traditional Act of Veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. There he prays for the gift of peace in the world, especially in Ukraine and in the Holy Land.

Pope Francis marked the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on 8 December, by donating three Golden Roses to the ancient Roman icon of 'Maria Salus Populi Romani' (Our Lady of Health of the Roman People) in the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major, and with the traditional Act of Veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary before the statue of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza Mignanelli, adjacent to Rome’s central Piazza di Spagna.

The Golden Roses placed at the feet of 'Maria Salus Populi Romani'

The Pope first traveled on Friday afternoon to the Basilica dedicated to the Mother of God where he placed three Golden Roses at the feet of the Protectress of the Roman People, the most honored Marian icon in Rome.

He is the third Pope to make this ancient and highly symbolic gesture. The last Pope to do so was Pope Paul V in 1613.

The tradition of this gift, symbolizing the papal blessing, dates back to the Middle Ages. The gesture is an expression of Pope Francis' profound bond with the Mother of God.

Act of Veneration in Piazza di Spagna

After the homage to 'Maria Salus Populi Romani', Pope Francis traveled to Piazza di Spagna to perform the traditional Act of Veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary before the statue of the Immaculate Conception.

There, after deposing a wreath of roses at the foot of the 39-foot-high column bearing a statue of the Virgin Mary, he said a prayer invoking the gift of peace in the world.

Mary's discreet and constant presence gives us comfort and hope

The Pope began the prayer by thanking the Virgin for her “discreet and constant presence, which gives us comfort and hope.”

“Your person,” he said, “the very fact that you exist reminds us that evil has neither the first nor the last word; that our destiny is not death but life, it is not hatred but brotherhood, it is not conflict but harmony, it is not war but peace”.

Entrusting to Mary the peoples of Ukraine, Palestine and Israel

He then entrusted to her mercy “all peoples oppressed by injustice and poverty, and suffering war”, referring in particular to the “tormented Ukrainian people” and the Palestinian and Israeli peoples who have “plunged back into a spiral of violence.”

The Pope also turned his thoughts to the many mothers who, as Mary did, are grieving for the loss of their children killed by war and terrorism, or who see them leave for desperate journeys of hope, or trying to save them from addictions, and those who watch over them in a long and hard illness.

Praying for mothers grieving and for victims of gender violence

Finally, Pope Francis entrusted to Mary’s protection all the women victims of violence: Dry, please, their tears and those of their loved ones,” he prayed.

Concluding, Pope Francis implored the Blessed Virgin to show the “the way of conversion, because, he said there is no peace without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without repentance.”

“The world changes if hearts change; and everyone must say: starting with mine. But only God can change the human heart with his grace: the one in which you, Mary, you are immersed from the first moment. The grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord, that you generated in the flesh, who died and rose again for us, and who you always point out to us. He is salvation, for every man and for the world. Come, Lord Jesus! May your kingdom of love, justice and peace come! Amen.”

Lisa Zengarini
Source: vaticannews.va/en