With the prayer from the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican gardens, Pope Francis still asks for Mary’s help for the release from Covid-19. The shrines from the various continents are linked to the Marian celebration, broadcast live worldwide. Special involvement of families and representatives of those who have been committed and touched by the virus
It is as if a thin thread united the world today. A thread composed of the beads of the Rosary, the voices of prayer, the moist eyes that express the pain and anguish experienced in this time. But also from emotion and hope because it addresses a woman who has never remained indifferent to the fate of men. Because she is the Mother of Jesus and ours and we have resorted to her over the centuries and we ask for help not only – but certainly above all – when the shadow of death and pain stretch over humanity. At the end of the celebration, the Pope in Spanish greeted in particular the many related Shrines of Latin America. He wanted to greet them in his mother tongue, thanking for the closeness and hoping for the accompaniment of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The Shrines in connection
From the Grotto of Lourdes, in the Vatican gardens, Pope Francis presides over this prayer, broadcast worldwide, in a dramatic time marked precisely by a pandemic that has caused nearly 6 million infected and over 360 thousand deaths worldwide. A pandemic that has brought humanity to its knees.
And from the heart of the Vatican this fine thread of prayer weaves a union all over the world because the largest shrines of all continents connect directly to it: from Częstochowa to Fatima, from Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico, to Lujan, in Argentina, from Pompeii to Lourdes. But to connect is also the Shrine of Immaculate Conception in Washington as well as, among others, that of Elele, in Nigeria. A worldwide breath testified by the images of the Sanctuaries that slide on the giant screen near the Grotto.
Promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, this prayer event takes place, then, at the cowardice of Pentecost and at the end of the month of May, a time dedicated in a special way to prayer to the Virgin. This year, however, this recitation of the Rosary takes on particular tones due to the extraordinary nature of the moment that humanity lives.
The dozens recited by representatives of those affected
To accompany this strong moment, at the beginning and at the end, are the two prayers that the Pope wrote to the Virgin in this time of pandemic. Prayers that express the profound meaning of these acts: to place the pains of humanity at the feet of the Virgin Mary to invoke her help. As perceived from the first prayer:
Under your protection we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not despise the supplications of us who are in trial, and deliver us from every danger, glorious and blessed Virgin.
The dozens of the Rosary are marked by men and women who represent the various categories affected by the virus or committed to stem it: a doctor and a nurse, representing the health personnel at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic; a person recovered from Covid-19 and one who has lost a family member, to indicate how many have been affected; a chaplain and a nun, in memory of the priests and consecrated persons close to the sick; a pharmacist and a journalist to highlight those who have continued to perform their precious service for others; a Civil Protection volunteer with his family to represent the whole vast world of volunteering and all those who have worked to cope with the emergency and a young couple who were born a child at this time, for all the children who came into the world.
The invocation to Mary
Pain and love are the feelings that today take on a face and that in recent months have been represented by the Pope’s intentions at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. Doctors, nurses, law enforcement, sick, deceased, government leaders and men of science. A fresco of humanity drawn from the same prayer that concludes this recitation of the Rosary, the second of the prayers composed by the Pope at this time:
O Mary, Comforter of the afflicted, embrace all your troubled children and get the Merciful Father to intervene with his almighty hand to free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its daily course. We entrust ourselves to You, who shine on our path as a sign of salvation and hope, or merciful, or pious, or sweet Virgin Mary.
And if on March 27 alone the Pope had advanced into St. Peter’s Square bathed in the rain of pain invoking help in the midst of the storm, today – about 2 months later – he was able to do so in the presence of some faithful, with masks on his mouth and hope in the heart: a prelude to what will happen tomorrow, when after the lockdown the Pope will return to appear for the Regina Coeli from the window on the Piazza with the participation of the people. Today, the setting is not the rain but the light that filters through the clouds. A light that testifies that the future is not made for death, but is a promise of eternity.