After praying the Angelus with the faithful in Saint Peter’s Square at midday on Thursday, 8 December, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis travelled by car in the early afternoon to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major where he spent a private moment in prayer before the icon, Salus Populi Romani, and laid a bouquet of white roses on the altar. He then travelled to Piazza Mignanelli near Piazza di Spagna for the traditional Marian homage at the foot of the column of the Statue of Our Lady. Here too a bouquet of white roses was offered to Our Lady.
The Holy Father prayed for all the people on earth, old and young, and for peace: “I bring you the thanks and supplications of all your children, near and far”. As he prayed to Our Lady for peace in Ukraine, the Pope was visibly moved to tears that echoed those of the people killed and wounded in the war. “I would have liked to have brought to you today the thanksgiving of the Ukrainian people for the peace we have long been asking the Lord for”, Pope Francis said, “Instead, I still have to present to you the supplication of the children, of the elderly, of the fathers and mothers, of the young people of that martyred land”.
After his prayer, the Holy Father greeted the journalists and faithful present before returning to the Vatican.