In the heart of Rome, near streets of fancy shops already blinged out for Christmas shopping, Pope Francis prayed for Romans struggling to survive and for families in the city and around the world who face the same lack of welcome that Mary and Joseph experienced.
The Pope concluded his public celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 by making the traditional papal visit to a statue of Mary erected in Rome’s historic centre to honour Catholic teaching that Mary was conceived without sin.
The statue, located near the Spanish Steps and Rome’s most expensive clothing and jewellery stores, is also next to the building housing the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Instead of making a speech near the statue, the Pope composes and reads a prayer, and he leaves a basket of roses at the statue’s base.
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on your feast day, so dear to all Christian people,
I come to pay homage to you in the heart of Rome.
In my own soul, I bear the faithful of this Church,
and everyone who lives in this city, especially the sick,
and all those who, because of their different situations, find it difficult to keep going.
First and foremost, we want to thank you
for the motherly care with which you accompany our journey:
how often do we hear, with tears in our eyes,
from those who have experienced your intercession,
about the graces you ask for us from your Son Jesus!
I think also of the simple grace you give people who live in Rome:
that of facing the challenges of everyday life with patience.
And for this reason we ask you for the strength not to resign ourselves, but rather,
that every day, each person may do their bit to improve things,
so that the care shown by each person may make Rome more beautiful and livable for all;
so that the duty each person performs, might guarantee the rights of all.
And thinking about the common good of this city,
we pray to you for those who hold positions of greater responsibility:
obtain for them wisdom, vision, a spirit of service and collaboration.
I wish to entrust you, in a special way, the priests of this Diocese:
pastors, assistance pastors, elderly priests, who with a pastor’s heart,
continue to work in the service of God’s people,
the many student priests from all over the world who collaborate in the parishes.
For all of them, I ask you the tender joy of evangelizing,
and the gift of being fathers, close to the people, merciful.
To you, a Woman totally consecrated to God, I entrust consecrated lay women and women religious.
Thank God there are many of them in Rome, more than in any other city in the world,
and they form a wonderful mosaic of nationalities and cultures.
For them I ask you the joy of being, like you, spouses and mothers,
fruitful in prayer, charity and compassion.
O Mother of Jesus,
I ask you one last thing at this time of Advent,
thinking of the days when you and Joseph were worried
about the already imminent birth of your child,
concerned because there was a census underway and you too had to leave your hometown of Nazareth and go to Bethlehem…
You know what it means to carry life in your womb
and to feel indifference, rejection, even contempt, around you.
That’s why I ask you to be close to families who today
in Rome, in Italy, and throughout the world experience similar situations,
may they not be abandoned, but may their rights be protected,
human rights that have priority over any necessity, however legitimate.
O Mary Immaculate,
dawn of hope on the horizon of humanity,
watch over this city:
its houses, schools, offices, shops,
its factories, hospitals, and prisons.
May that which Rome holds most precious,
that which she preserves for the whole world,
never be lacking anywhere: the last testament of Jesus:
“Love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).
With thanks to CNS and Cindy Wooden and with thanks to Vatican News, where the prayer originally appeared.