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Praying to Our Lady at St Mary Major

Leaving his residence in Rome

He kept his promise. As announced at the moment of election, Pope Francis left the Vatican for the first time and went to “pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome”. With a small bunch of flowers like a simple pilgrim, the Pope went to the Basilica of St Mary Major this morning, Thursday, 14 March, to pray to the Virgin, venerated as Salus populi romani .

In a private, simple visit which lasted about 30 minutes in the Papal Basilica – closed to visitors – the Bishop of Rome arrived just after 8:00 a.m in a Vatican vehicle. With him were Cardinal Vallini, the Vicar General for his diocese; Cardinal Abril y Castelló, Archpriest of St Mary Major; Archbishop Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household; Mons. Sapienza, Regent of the Prefecture and the Jesuit priest Fr Lombardi, Director of Vatican Radio and of the Holy See Press Office.

In the Pauline Chapel he placed coloured flowers in front of the ancient Marian icon, so loved by the people of Rome, and then stopped for a moment of silent meditation. At the close of his prayer the Salve Regina was chanted in Latin and then the Pope greeted the canons of the Liberian Chapter, the Dominican confessors — whom he encouraged to be merciful — the Franciscan friars of the Immaculate, together with the sisters who work in the sacristy, and the laity of the Collegium Liberianum .

The Pontiff also went to the recently restored Sistine Chapel, facing the crypt with the altar on which the Founder of the Society of Jesus, St Ignatius of Loyola, celebrated his first Mass on Christmas Eve of 1538. The Pope also stopped in front of the tomb of St Pius V. Lastly, before leaving he greeted the Basilica employees. Exiting out the back onto Piazza dell’Esquilino, before he entered the car to return to the Vatican, Pope Francis waved to some students who applauded him from the windows of the Albertelli secondary school.

Pope Francis took a short detour at the end of his first visit outside the Vatican. This morning, 14 March, after going to pray at the Basilica of St Mary Major, the Pontiff went to the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI . He stopped in the residence for priests on Via della Scrofa, where he was staying before the beginning of the Conclave, in order to pick up a few personal items, to thank the employees and to pay the bill in person. He then returned to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he is staying currently in the Vatican.




St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 21, 2019