Rome, Italy, Dec 8, 2015 / 13:40 pm
Pope Francis venerated the statue of the Immaculate Conception in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, continuing the tradition set by his predecessors in the late 1900s.
The event began with the reading from the book of Revelation, which describes "a woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and around her head a crown of twelve stars." (Rev. 12:1).
The Pope then recited a prayer to Our Lady, made on behalf on all those living in Rome.
"Today, here in the heart of Rome, we hear the voice of our mother who calls everyone toward that Door, which represents Christ," the prayer reads.
"You say to all: 'Come, confident approach; revenue and receive the gift of Mercy; do not be afraid, do not be ashamed: Father is waiting for you with open arms to give you his forgiveness and welcome in her home.'"
This prayer was followed by the chanting of the Litany to Mary.
After the visit to Piazza di Spagna, Pope Francis is scheduled to stop at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major where he will venerate the image of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani.
The statue of Our Lady which overlooks the Piazza di Spagna, standing atop a column nearly 12 meters high, was dedicated Dec. 8, 1857, just a few years after the Church adopted the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception.
Since the 1950s, it has been a custom for Popes to venerate the statue for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The statue is often adorned with homages of flowers hung in the form of wreaths around Mary's outstretched arms and laid at the base of the statue.