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'Hope for the future': Pope Francis asks Mary to intercede for end to pandemic

Pope Francis prays the rosary before an icon of Our Lady of Help in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Francis prays the rosary in the Gregorian Chapel in St. Peter's Basilica May 1, 2021. / Daniel Ibanez/Vatican Pool.
Pope Francis prays the rosary before an icon of Our Lady of Help in St. Peter's Basilica May 1, 2021. Pope Francis prays the rosary before an icon of Our Lady of Help in St. Peter's Basilica May 1, 2021. / Daniel Ibanez/Vatican Pool.
Hands holding a rosary in St. Peter's Basilica May 1, 2021. Hands hold a rosary and booklet during a prayer with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica May 1, 2021. / Daniel Ibanez/Vatican Pool.

Pope Francis prayed a rosary Saturday for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, imploring the Virgin Mary to intercede for healing for the sick, comfort for the grieving, and hope for the future.

"Mother of Help, welcome us under your mantle and protect us, sustain us in the hour of trial, and ignite in our hearts the light of hope for the future," Pope Francis prayed May 1.

"At the beginning of the month dedicated to Our Lady, we unite in prayer with all of the shrines scattered throughout the world, with the faithful, and with all people of good will," he said, "to entrust in the hands of our Holy Mother all of humanity, strongly tried in this period of pandemic."

"In the present dramatic situation, full of sufferings and anxieties that grip the whole world, we turn to You, Mother of God and our Mother, and we seek refuge under your protection."

Around 160 people, including many families with young children, attended the pope's rosary, which was broadcast live from the Gregorian Chapel of St. Peter's Basilica.

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The Gregorian Chapel contains the relics of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, a Doctor of the Church, as well as a 7th-century icon of Our Lady of Help.

The chapel altar under the icon was decorated with flowers for the rosary May 1, which kicked off a month of daily rosaries prayed at Catholic shrines around the world for the intention of an end to the coronavirus pandemic and the resumption of work and social activities.

Young adults and families led the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary and read the meditations, based on scripture passages.

At the end of the rosary, Pope Francis asked the Virgin Mary to turn her "merciful eyes to us in this coronavirus pandemic, and comfort those who are lost and weeping for their dead loved ones, sometimes buried in a way that wounds the soul."

"Support those who are anxious about sick people who, to prevent contagion, cannot be near," he said. "Instill confidence in those who are anxious about the uncertain future and the consequences on the economy and work."

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The pope prayed for protection for healthcare workers and for priests. He prayed that scientists will find solutions to overcome the virus, and that national leaders will "work with wisdom, concern and generosity, helping those who lack the necessities to live, planning social and economic solutions with farsightedness and a spirit of solidarity."

Francis also prayed for women who have experienced domestic violence under the forced closures and all those who have been affected by the virus and by its consequences.

"Oh Mary, Comforter of the afflicted, embrace all your troubled children and obtain that God intervenes with his almighty hand to free us from this terrible epidemic, so that life can resume its normal course in serenity," he said.

"We entrust ourselves to you, who shines on our path as a sign of salvation and hope, oh merciful, oh pious, oh sweet Virgin Mary," he prayed. "Lead the steps of your pilgrims, who wish to pray and love you in the shrines dedicated to you all over the world, under the most varied titles that recall your intercession; be a sure guide for each one. Amen."

After the prayer, Pope Francis blessed rosaries to be sent to the 30 Marian shrines participating in the daily live-streamed prayers.

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