November 24, 2014, Monday — The Pope and Mary: 30 Minutes of Silent Prayer

A few moments ago, on the afternoon of Monday, November 24, in Rome, Pope Francis prayed silently for half an hour before an ancient and important icon of the Virgin Mary.

The Pope was praying before the icon this evening because tomorrow he will travel to Strasbourg, France, to speak to the leaders of the European Union.

So, this afternoon in Rome, as has become his custom before making any trip, Francis visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray to the Virgin Mary.

It was the 14th time Pope Francis has visited St. Mary Major to pray before the icon, known as the Salus Populi Romani (The Safety, or Protection, of the Roman People), since his election to the papacy on March 13, 2013.

The Pope visited the Basilica at 5:30 p.m.

He went immediately to the chapel on the left side of the main altar.

He prayed to Our Lady for her protection for his journey tomorrow to the governing bodies of a new, united Europe which has in recent years become increasingly “post-Christian” and increasingly hostile to traditional Christian morality.

The Pope’s remarks tomorrow are being awaited with considerable interest. It is expected that, among other things, he will call on the people’s of Europe to remember the Christian faith that shaped their customs and laws for centuries.

The Pope’s prayer continued for half an hour. The Pope brought to Our Lady a floral wreath with roses the colors of Europe, yellow and blue.

Here is a list of his prior visits, as published today by the very useful Italian website “Il sismografo.”

1) March 14, 2013
On the morning after his election, at 8 a.m. (thus, the very first act of his pontificate)
2) May 4, 2013
To recite the Holy Rosary
3) May 30, 2013
The Feast of Corpus Christi (Pope Francis presided over the public procession from St. John Lateran, down the via Merulana, to St. Mary Major)
4) July 20, 2013
The vigil of his trip to Brazil for World Youth Day
5) July 29, 2013
Just after his return from Brazil for World Youth Day
6) December 8, 2013
Following the act of Veneration at the column by the Spanish Steps, where the Popes each year venerate Mary in memory of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
7) January 1, 2014
Solemnity of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God
8) May 23, 2014
On the vigil of his departure for the Holy Land
9) May 27, 2014
In thanksgiving upon his return form his pilgrimage to the Holy Land
10) August 13, 2014
On the vigil of his trip to South Korea
11) August 18, 2014
Upon his return from his trip to South Korea
12) September 18, 2014
The vigil of his trip to Albania
13) September 22, 2014
Thanksgiving upon his return from his pilgrimage in Albania

To See Bartholomew

In addition to his trip tomorrow to Strasbourg, Pope Francis also has on his agenda a trip this coming weekend to Istanbul, where he will be received by the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the Feast of St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, celebrated on Sunday, November 30.

This upcoming visit, of course, has important ecumenical implications as Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew both desire closer relations between the “two lungs” of Christianity, which have not “breathed together” since the Great Schism of 1054 A.D., nearly 1,000 years ago…

The Anthropological Question

“You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because, in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.” —Walker Percy (1916-1990), American Catholic convert and writer, author of The Message in the Bottle and Lost in the Cosmos

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