Vatican basilica to lead candlelight rosary procession during May

A candlelight Stations of the Cross in St. Peter’s Square on Good Friday 2021. A candlelight Stations of the Cross in St. Peter’s Square on Good Friday 2021. | Vatican Media

Throughout the month of May, the Vatican will host two weekly occasions for prayer in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it was announced on Monday.

On the four Saturdays of May, from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m., Cardinal Angelo Comastri will lead a candlelight rosary procession around St. Peter’s Square.

A reproduction of the image of Mary under her title “Mater Ecclesiae,” which means “Mother of the Church,” will be present in the square during the rosary.

Comastri, who is the former archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, also led a daily livestreamed rosary during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns.

A second Vatican initiative for the month of May will be a walking prayer service stopping at images of the Virgin Mary found in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The walking prayer will take place on the four Wednesdays of May at 4:00 p.m. and will be followed by the celebration of Mass at 5:00 p.m.

Pope Francis has called Catholics to pray the rosary every day for peace.

The original Mater Ecclesiae image of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child was painted on a column in old St. Peter’s Basilica, built by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. It was later transferred to the 16th-century St. Peter’s Basilica, where it can still be seen above one of the side altars.

A mosaic of the Virgin Mary overlooking St. Peter’s Square was inspired by the original Mater Ecclesiae image. The mosaic was installed after the assassination attempt against St. Pope John Paul II in 1981.

When he blessed the mosaic, John Paul II prayed “that all those who will come to this St. Peter’s Square will lift up their gaze towards you [Mary], to direct, with feelings of filial trust, their greetings and their prayers.”

In 2018, Pope Francis added the memorial of “Mary, Mother of the Church” to the liturgical calendar for the Monday after Pentecost.

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