Rome, Italy, Mar 15, 2020 / 11:43 am
Pope Francis on Sunday took a brief walking pilgrimage in the city of Rome, and prayed for an end to the coronavirus pandemic during a surprise visit to both the Basilica of St. Mary Major and a cross that traversed Rome during a 16th century plague.
According to the Vatican, the pope went to the basilica to visit the icon of Salus Populi Romani, Mary Protection of the Roman People, to invoke her prayers against the coronavirus pandemic affecting Italy and the world.
A priest of the vicariate of Rome, Fr. Elio Lops, told CNA Pope Francis was accompanied during his visit by the Archpriest of the basilica, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko.
Lops, who was present, said the pope prayed silently before the icon for about 20 minutes and also stopped briefly at the chapel of the crucifix.
From the papal basilica, the pope walked about half a mile on foot to the Church of San Marcello al Corso to pray before a miraculous crucifix, which was once carried in procession through the streets of Rome during the plague of 1522.
According to the church’s rector, Fr. Enrico Casini, Francis also stopped to pray before a statue of St. Joseph.
📸 March 15 | #PopeFrancis visited San Marcello al Corso to pray for the end of the #coronavirus pandemic. He prayed in front of the same cross carried through #Rome in 1522 to end the “Great Plague.”— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) March 15, 2020
PC: #Vatican Media pic.twitter.com/WT5n5zoBAH