Flowers for Our Lady in Piazza di Spagna

© DR

Pope venerates the Blessed Virgin on the 160th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

(Vatican Radio) One of the highlights of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Rome is the visit of the Pope to Piazza di Spagna where he traditionally pays homage to the statue of Our Lady that commemorates the proclamation of the dogma in 1854.

The statue of Our Lady stands above a 39-foot high ancient Roman column that dominates the bustling shopping area of Rome’s historic center. It was placed here on September 8, 1857, and commemorates Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which states that Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.  

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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