There’s no respite from war in Ukraine and other parts of the world. There are however, many hands armed with nothing but a Rosary and a prayer for peace. That was the case for the faithful who joined Pope Francis for the Marian prayer on Tuesday evening, 31 May, before the statue of Mary, Queen of Peace, in the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
The prayer event to conclude the Marian month was streamed live around the world by various Marian shrines, above all in countries most affected by war and violence.
The first sorrowful mystery was led by a Ukrainian girl accompanied by her family. They prayed for victims of war, especially the children, the elderly and the sick. But also for families that have been torn apart, “for the fathers and mothers who wait for their children’s return” from war.
Then three military chaplains led the second sorrowful mystery, which was offered up for priests, consecrated people and all those who offer hope and comfort to populations affected by war.
A group of volunteers dedicated to assisting people in dangerous situations led the third mystery, praying for “medical personnel and volunteers who, every day, provide humanitarian aid”, but also “for all people who, with an open heart, have welcomed refugees into their homes”.
The fourth sorrowful mystery was led by a family from Venezuela and offered up for the tortured and dying, especially for those who die alone.
A family of refugees forced to leave their homes led the fifth and final mystery, praying that, through “the redeeming death of Jesus Christ, who reconciled the world to the Father, war may end and lasting peace reign in every nation”.
Among the faithful who joined Pope Francis to pray for peace were families from the Ukrainian community in Rome; members of the Vatican Gendarmerie and the Pontifical Swiss Guard; and the faithful from three parishes in Rome dedicated to Mary, Queen of Peace. Also in attendance were Cardinals Re, Ouellet, Sandri, Ryłko and Dziwisz.
At the end of the Rosary, Pope Francis paused briefly before the icon of the Virgin Salus populi Romani, before leaving the Basilica of Saint Mary Major and returning to Casa Santa Marta. He had also placed flowers at the foot of the statue of Mary, Queen of Peace.