Pope Francis asked the Virgin Mary to intercede for an end to "this terrible pandemic" as he recited the rosary with Marian shrines worldwide via videolink May 30.

The pope was joined Saturday by 50 shrines in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa as he implored God's help amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 365,000 lives so far.

During the rosary, the pope was seated before the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens. The grotto's altar is the original altar from the Grotto at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.   

Sitting behind Pope Francis were rows of people wearing medical masks spaced apart to avoid spreading the virus. 

At the conclusion of the rosary, the pope rose to pray, saying: "O Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes to us in this pandemic of coronavirus, and comfort those who are lost and weeping for their dearly departed, sometimes buried in a way that hurts the soul."

"Support those who are distressed for the sick people to whom, to prevent contagion, they cannot stay near. Instill confidence in those who are anxious about the uncertain future and the consequences for the economy and work." 

"Mother of God and our Mother, implore for us from God, Father of mercy, that this hard trial ends and that a horizon of hope and peace returns." 

Flanked by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, he continued: "As at Cana, come to your Son Jesus, asking him to comfort the families of the sick and victims and to open their hearts to trust. Protect the doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, volunteers who in this time of emergency are in the front line and put their lives at risk to save other lives."

"Accompany their fatigue and give them strength, goodness and health. Be close to those who night and day care for the sick, to priests and consecrated persons who, with pastoral solicitude and evangelical commitment, seek to help and support everyone." 

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The pope prayed for scientists and world leaders, and that money spent on weapons would be given instead to those studying how to avoid future catastrophes. 

He implored Mary to help the world grow in solidarity, firmness in faith, and perseverance in service and prayer. 

"O Mary, comforter of the afflicted, embrace all your troubled children and ask that the Merciful Father intervene with his omnipotent hand to free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life may take its daily course in serenity," he prayed. 

"We entrust ourselves to You, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, O merciful, O pious, O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen." 

The Argentine pope then greeted those gathered at shrines in Latin America via videolink. 

Speaking in Spanish, he said: "To all of you, the shrines of Latin America -- I see Guadalupe and so many others -- who are connected with us, united in prayer. In my mother tongue, I greet you. Thank you for being close to all of us. May our Mother of Guadalupe accompany us."

As those gathered sang the Ave Maria of Fatima, the pope prayed silently beneath the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was illuminated inside the grotto, before departing.

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The rosary event was promoted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, with the theme "Devoted with one accord to prayer, together with Mary," inspired by the Acts of the Apostles 1:14.

The Pontifical Council has been responsible for Catholic shrines since 2017.

In an interview with EWTN Vatican ahead of the event, Archbishop Rino Fisichella said: "I think we have discovered two main things during this special moment. First of all the importance of the media for the new evangelization and the importance of media for the prayer."

Shrines joining the pope from the Americas included the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal in Canada, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá in Colombia, Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil and Our Lady of Luján in Argentina.

The majority of shrines were located in Italy, including Loreto, Pompei, and Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Padre Pio. Other participating shrines in Europe included: Lourdes, France; Fatima, Portugal; Częstochowa, Poland; and Walsingham, England.

The pope was joined from Israel by the Basilica of the Annunciation, and from Africa by the shrines of Elele in Nigeria and Notre-Dame de la Paix in Ivory Coast.

The rosary was recited in the Vatican Gardens by men and women affected by the coronavirus crisis. They included a doctor, a nurse, a hospital chaplain, and a woman who had lost her mother to COVID-19. 

In a May 30 interview with the Italian version of Vatican News, Archbishop Fisichella noted that a baby born during the pandemic would also be present at the event with his family. 

He said: "Last but not least, I like to remember that there will also be Jacopo, a child just one month old, whom we have chosen with his parents, because he was born during this dramatic period. 

"Jacopo is the one who gives hope, he is the one who makes us understand that life continues and will always go on, because man is made for life, he is made to live."

There have been more than 5.9 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide as of May 30, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.