The shrines were connected via video link and shown on the Vatican’s live stream of the event.
Before the recitation of the rosary, a bouquet of white flowers brought by Pope Francis was placed at the foot of the statue and the pope read an introductory prayer.
“O Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Peace, during the pandemic we gathered around You to ask for Your intercession. We asked You to support the sick and give strength to medical staff; we implored mercy for the dying and to wipe away the tears of those who suffered in silence and loneliness,” he said.
“This evening, at the end of the month especially consecrated to You, here we are again before You, Queen of Peace, to beseech You: grant the great gift of peace, end the war soon which has been raging for decades now in various parts of the world, and which has now invaded the European continent as well.”
He went on: “We are aware that peace cannot be the result of negotiations alone nor a consequence of political agreements alone, but is above all an Easter gift of the Holy Spirit.”
“We have consecrated the warring nations to your Immaculate Heart and asked for the great gift of the conversion of hearts. We are confident that with the weapons of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the gift of your grace, the hearts of men and the fortunes of the whole world can be changed.”
“Today we raise our hearts to You, Queen of Peace: intercede for us with Your Son, reconcile hearts filled with violence and vengeance, straighten thoughts blinded by the desire for easy enrichment, on all the earth may Your enduring peace reign.”
The 85-year-old pope sat in a wheelchair facing the statue of Mary Regina Pacis, in the basilica’s left aisle. The image was commissioned by Pope Benedict XV to ask for the Virgin Mary’s intercession to end the First World War.
The sculptor Guido Galli depicted Mary with her left arm raised, commanding the war to end, and in her right arm, she holds the Child Jesus, who is poised to drop an olive branch symbolizing peace.
It added that the pope would be joined at the basilica by children who had recently made their First Communions or received the Sacrament of Confirmation, as well as families from Rome’s Ukrainian community.
Several people seated in the basilica wore clothes in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag. Around 900 people were present, including senior Vatican cardinals, Swiss Guards, and refugees.
The basilica also contains the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani (Protection of the Roman People), which the pope visited before departing.
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The pope read a final prayer and then offered his blessing.
He said: “Grant to your faithful, Lord our God, that they may always enjoy health of body and spirit; through the glorious intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Peace, save us from the evils that now grieve us and lead us to joy without end. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
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