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Pray in hope with Pope’s prayer to Mary

le pape François place d'Espagne

Vatican Media

Isabella H. de Carvalho - I.Media - published on 12/13/23

"We need you, Mother, because you are the Immaculate Conception. Your person [...] reminds us that evil has neither the first nor the last word."
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Your person, the fact itself that you exist,
reminds us that evil has neither the first nor the last word;
that our destiny is not death but life,
not hatred but fraternity, not conflict but harmony,
not war but peace.

On December 8, 2023, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis spent his afternoon praying and paying homage to Our Lady. Below is the prayer he pronounced in front of a statue of Mary, Mother of God, in Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) in Rome. 

He prayed especially for moms who have to confront sorrow.

Immaculate Virgin!
We come to you with hearts divided between hope and anguish.

We need you, our Mother!
But above all, we want to thank you,
because in silence, which is your style, you watch over this city
that today covers you with flowers to express their love.

In silence, day and night, you watch over us:
over its families, with their joys and worries – you know them well;
over its study and work places; over its institutions and public offices;
over its hospitals and nursing homes; over its prisons; over those who live on the streets;
over its parishes and all the communities of the Church of Rome.

Thank you for your discreet and constant presence
that gives us comfort and hope.

We need you, Mother,
because you are the Immaculate Conception.

Your person, the fact itself that you exist,
reminds us that evil has neither the first nor the last word;
that our destiny is not death but life,
not hatred but fraternity, not conflict but harmony,
not war but peace.

Looking at you, we feel confirmed in this faith
that is tested dearly by events.

And you, Mother, turn your eyes of mercy
on all the people oppressed by injustice and poverty,
tried by war; look on the battered Ukrainian people,
the Palestinian people and the Israeli people,
plunged in a spiral of violence.

Today, holy Mother, we bring here, under your gaze,
many mothers who, as happened to you, are filled with sorrow.

The mothers who weep for their children killed by war and terrorism.
The mothers who watch them depart on journeys of desperate hope.
And also the mothers who try to free them from the bonds of addiction,
and those who watch over them through long and difficult illnesses.

Today, Mary, as a woman, we need you
to entrust to you every woman who has suffered violence,
and those are still victims of violence,
in this city, in Italy, and in every part of the world.
You know them one by one; you know their faces.
We beg you to dry their tears and those of their dear ones.

And help us to embark on a path of education and purification,
recognizing and countering the violence that lurks
in our hearts and in our minds,
asking God to deliver us from it.

Show us once again, O Mother, the path of conversion,
for there is no peace without pardon,
and there is no pardon without repentance.

The world changes if hearts change;
and everyone must say: beginning with mine.

But only God can change the human heart
with his grace, the grace in which you, Mary,
were immersed from the first instant.
The grace of Jesus Christ, Our Lord,
whom you generated in your flesh,
who died and rose for us, and to whom you always direct us.
He is salvation for every person, and for the world.

Come, Lord Jesus!

May your kingdom of love, justice and peace come!



As is customary on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis ventured out of the Vatican walls to pay homage before a statue of Our Lady that is located in Piazza Mignanelli in Rome, just south of the Spanish Steps. The Pontiff laid a wreath of flowers, then greeted the crowds that had gathered for this annual event. 

In this year’s prayer, Pope Francis’ thoughts were particularly dedicated to those suffering from conflicts, especially in Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel. He also entrusted to Our Lady all women who have been victims of gender-based violence. This prayer resonated particularly in Italy, as three days earlier, on December 5, a funeral was held in Padua for young Giulia Cecchetin, a 22-year-old woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend on November 11.

Pope Francis-Immaculate Conception

A longstanding tradition

Every December 8 since the pontificate of John XXIII, popes have gone to this square to venerate the statue of the Mother of God, located on top of a nearly 40-foot (12 meter) column. It is not only the popes, though, who come to celebrate Our Lady. 

All day long, representatives of various institutions come to greet the “Madonna,” most famously the firefighters, who use their truck’s ladder to place a wreath of flowers on the arm of the statue at dawn. This is in memory of their 220 colleagues who inaugurated the monument on December 8, 1857.

The video from the fire station shows this feat — not for those of us in the Aleteia community who are scared of heights!

A special gift for Our Lady

Right before going to the Spanish Steps, the Pontiff also visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where he presented a golden rose to the icon Salus populi romani, the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in Rome. The icon is attributed to St. Luke and is called the “Protectress of the Roman People.”

The Pope has had a special veneration for this image since the beginning of his pontificate and has in fact visited it 115 times since 2013. He especially prays at the icon before and after his international trips, or during important moments of his pontificate.

The golden rose is traditionally awarded by a pope to a personality, shrine, or city in recognition of an important service given to the Church, or for the good of society. His predecessors Pope Julius III (1487-1555) and Pope Paul V (1552-1621) made the same gesture at St. Mary Major in 1551 and 1613.

Francis has left several golden roses in Marian shrines since his election, including in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2017 and in Fatima, Portugal, the same year.

Pope FrancisVaticanVirgin Mary
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