Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 27 January |
Saint of the Day: St. Angela Merici
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

A deadly plague ended when this image was carried in procession in Rome

Health of the Roman People

Gregorio Borgia | POOL | AFP

Philip Kosloski - published on 09/03/20

The icon "Health of the Roman People" is associated with a miraculous cleansing of the air during the reign of St. Gregory the Great.

During the 6th century there was a deadly plague that ravaged Italy. It killed a great number of people and was spreading like wildfire.

To counteract this epidemic, St. Gregory the Great turned to God and led a procession throughout the streets of Rome. The Golden Legend narrates this event and explains what happened next.

The plague was still ravaging Rome, and Gregory ordered the procession to continue to make the circuit of the city, the marchers chanting the litanies. An image of Blessed Mary ever Virgin was carried in the procession. It is said that this image is still in the church of Saint Mary Major in Rome, that it was painted by Saint Luke, who was not only a physician but a distinguished painter, and that it was a perfect likeness of the Virgin. And lo and behold! The poisonous uncleanness of the air yielded to the image as if fleeing from it and being unable to withstand its presence: the passage of the picture brought about a wonderful serenity and purity in the air.

The air was reportedly cleansed by this image and the plague ceased.

The image is now known by the name, “Salus Populi Romani,” which is translated as, “Health of the Roman People.” It is a favorite image of Pope Francis, who specifically chose it to be in St. Peter’s Square during his historic “Urbi et Orbi” blessing on March 27, for the intention of ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interestingly, a procession with the same image was repeated in 1348, during a similar plague. An early 20th-century Pilgrim’s Guide to Rome describes this miracle.

At the high altar is venerated a Madonna attributed to St. Lukeand which was carried in a famous procession. This was in 1348; the plague from Asia had invaded all Europe, and made such ravages that cities lost a third, a quarter and even half, their inhabitants. This procession put an end to the scourge in Rome and the Romans, to testify their gratitude, caused the grand flight of steps leading the principal entrance to the church to be built.

It is no surprise that Pope Francis and many Romans continue to favor this image of the Virgin Mary, which is associated with many miracles throughout the centuries.

Miraculous crucifix from 1522 plague moved to St. Peter’s for pope’s ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing

Tags:
COVID-19Saints
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
2
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
The 4 Ways to read Scripture every Catholic should know
3
Philip Kosloski
When did Christians start praying the Hail Mary?
4
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
5
LUPKOW CEMETERY
J-P Mauro
Polish statue of Christ found peeking out of a growing tree
6
PHILIP RIVERS
Cerith Gardiner
Quarterback Philip Rivers' retirement announcement reflects his s...
7
ŚWIĘTY JÓZEF
Kathleen N. Hattrup
The Litany of St. Joseph
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.