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."
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.