The Pope thanks Our Lady for her apostolic journey to Malta

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The day after his visit to Malta, Pope Francis prays for a moment at the feet of the ancient Roman icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani to express his gratitude to Our Lady for her motherly protection.

By Devin Watkins

The Pope’s visit to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major once again constituted the two bookends of his apostolic journey, which this time took him to the European nation of Malta for two days over the weekend. .

According to the Holy See’s press office, Pope Francis drove through Rome on Monday for a stop at the papal basilica to pray before the icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani.

The pope laid a bouquet of flowers on the altar under the icon of Our Lady in the Borghese Chapel and thanked the Blessed Virgin Mary for her motherly protection during his visit to Malta.

He then drove back home to the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta.

Marian devotion

Tradition has it that the icon of Mary “Salvation of the Roman peoples” arrived in Rome during the reign of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, around 590 AD, although its origins go back much further.

Pope Gregory XVI crowned the icon in 1838, while Pope Pius XII repeated the devotional gesture in the Marian year of 1954.

The Vatican Museums have cleaned and restored the ancient icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani in 2018.

Brief and intense visit

Pope Francis spent Saturday and Sunday in the Mediterranean nation of Malta for a visit that was twice delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Migration and war were somehow at the center of the Pope’s apostolic journey. The theme of the visit was “They showed us unusual kindness”, and the Holy Father spoke frequently of the need for nations to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants.

In his first event, with civil authorities, Pope Francis called for solidarity with people on the move, and his latest event welcomed a concrete example of what he meant, when he visited the center to migrants “John XXIII Peace Lab” in Hal Far.

War model

On the other hand, the pope spoke forcefully against the war, calling it “sacrilege”. Speaking to reporters on the flight back to Rome, he lamented the “pattern of warfare” that leads governments to spend money on weapons and ignore the sanctity of human life, even young people.

Pope Francis’ last public words during his apostolic journey to Malta were filled with pain:

“I am pained. We never learn. May the Lord have mercy on us, on all of us. Each of us is guilty!

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