· The traditional tribute to Mary Immaculate ·
Pope Francis took a walk through Rome yesterday, 8 December, the day on which the city traditionally pays tribute to the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Walking down Via dei Condotti, the Holy Father picked up a rose which had been tossed in the street, he kissed it and walked over to the crowd lining his path. He embraced Antonia, the elderly woman who had brought the rose with her from Terralba, a small town in Sardinia that was affected by the recent floods. This was an act of thanks for the prayers which Pope Francis had requested and the solidarity for which he urged immediately after the tragedy.
It was the Holy Father's first trip to Piazza di Spagna for the Immaculate Conception and from the very beginning it was anything but ordinary. Sparkling as always, Via dei Condotti – a main shopping avenue in Rome – was decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments and for a brief time was transformed into an open-air cathedral for the multitudes of people – mostly Romans – who would not have missed this solemnity that they feel belongs to Rome. This year they were waiting for something else from Pope Francis, thus the meeting was of even greater interest.
After receiving a chalice, the traditional gift from the Association of Merchants of Via Condotti, he boarded a car and went to Piazza di Spagna where he found an enthusiastic crowd. The Spanish Steps – which lead to the Church of Trinità dei Monti – were crowded with a festive group which slowly flowed around the square from Via del Babbuino to the foot of the column with the statue of Mary Immaculate in the centre of Piazza Mignanelli. The Pope asked that the car be stopped and he got out in front of the “barcaccia”, the Bernini fountain in the form of a ship, and looking around he said: “Look how many people there are!”. Then moving towards the centre of the street, he walked to the column for the tribute to Mary Immaculate. After praying, he blessed the crown and greeted several of those present.
Upon concluding the prayer the Pope met with 50 sick people and then went to St Mary Major where he paid homage to the Salus populi romani.
St. Peter’s Square
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