Francis paid tribute and prayed to the Immaculate in Piazza di Spagna. He visited St Mary Major to pray in front of the image of Salus Populi Romani, and Sant'Andrea delle Fratte to pay tribute to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis made his annual visit to Rome's Piazza di Spagna today to pay homage to the Immaculate. In his prayer, he called upon Mary to help humanity reject the “viruses” of indifference, fear of the foreigner and those who are different from us, conformism, resignation to degradation, exploitation of men and women.
On his way to the Piazza, the pope visited St Mary Major Basilica to stand in prayer before the image of Salus Populi Romani (Salvation of the Roman People). After the prayer he stopped to greet the sick. Before returning to the Vatican, he visited the Basilica of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte to pay tribute to the Madonna of the Miraculous Medal.
Francis’s prayer follows:
For the fifth time I come to your feet as Bishop of Rome,
to pay you homage on behalf of all the inhabitants of this city.
We want to thank you for the constant care
with which you accompany us on our journey,
the journey of families, parishes, religious communities;
the journey of those who daily, and sometimes with difficulty,
pass through Rome on their way to work;
the journey of the sick, the elderly, the poor,
the journey of so many people who immigrated here from places where there is war and hunger.
Thank you, because as soon as we turn our thoughts,
or a fleeting glance, towards you,
or recite a quick Hail Mary,
we feel your maternal presence, tender and strong.
O Mother, help this city develop the "antibodies" it needs
to combat some of the viruses of our times:
the indifference that says: "It’s not my business";
the unsociable behaviour that despises the common good;
the fear of the foreigner and those who are different from us;
the conformism that disguises itself as transgression;
the hypocrisy that accuses others while doing the same things;
the resignation to environmental and ethical degradation;
the exploitation of so many men and women.
Help us to reject these and other viruses
with the antibodies that come from the Gospel.
Let us make it a good habit
to read a passage from the Gospel every day
and, following your example, to keep the Word of God in our hearts,
so that, like a good seed, it may fruit in our lives.
175 years ago, not far from here,
in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte,
you touched the heart of Alphonse Ratisbonne, who at that moment,
from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, became a Christian.
You revealed yourself to him as a Mother of grace and mercy.
Grant that we too, especially in times of trial and temptation,
may fix our gaze on your open hands,
hands that allow the Lord's graces to fall upon the earth.
Help us to rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance,
and to recognize ourselves for what we really are:
small and poor sinners, but always your children.
So, let us place our hand in yours
And allow ourselves to be led back to Jesus, our Brother and Saviour,
and to our Heavenly Father, who never tires of waiting for us
and forgiving us when we return to Him.
Thank you, Mother, for always listening to us!
Bless the Church that is in Rome.
Bless this City and the whole world.
Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne, whom Francis cited, came from a Jewish family of very wealthy bankers. On 20 January 1842 he accompanied a friend to the Church of Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte where, he later said, he saw the "Great Virgin, full of majesty and sweetness, the Virgin Mary, as she is in the Miraculous Medal". On 31 January he was baptised in the Church of Jesus and later became a Jesuit.