Rome Newsroom, Mar 4, 2021 / 12:00 pm
On the eve of his departure for a three-day trip to Iraq, Pope Francis visited a Rome basilica to ask for the Virgin Mary's intercession and protection on his travels.
According to the Holy See press office, Pope Francis went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major March 4 "for a moment of prayer" before the Byzantine icon of Salus Populi Romani, Mary, Protection of the Roman People.
It has been Pope Francis' custom to visit the icon before his international trips to ask for the Virgin Mary's protection.
He also typically visits the icon upon returning to Rome and before re-entering the Vatican.