Pope venerates the Blessed Virgin on the 160th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
The column and statue were erected with the help of 220 firemen, which is why the floral tributes always include a garland of flowers placed in Our Lady’s arms by a member of Rome’s fire department. The tradition of offering flowers to her image here on this feast day was begun by Pope Pius XII.
Traffic stopped and holiday-makers paused to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis as he arrived in Piazza di Spagna with his own massive bouquet of white roses which was placed at the foot of the column. Before singing the litanies of the Blessed Virgin, the Pope invoked Mary’s “maternal protection on us, our families, this city and the whole world.”
As we approach Christmas, he prayed, “teach us to go against the flow, to strip ourselves, to be humble and giving, to listen and be silent, to go out of ourselves, giving space to the beauty of God, source of true joy.”
The brief ceremony concluded with the Pope immediately putting into practice what he’d just said by spending time greeting groups of aged and disabled people — plus kissing several babies, of course.
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