Pope will pray next Saturday before image of Blessed Mother on Spanish Steps

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This celebration is one of the few events the pope holds outside of the Vatican annually. It is held every Dec 8 at the Spanish Steps. 

That is the day Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is traditional for the pope to pray before the image of Mary located in this central square of Rome. 

Roman authorities, dozens of sick people, thousands of Italians, and tourists will all be waiting for him in the square. 

It is a brief visit that includes a floral offering and a short prayer.

“We have need of your immaculate hands, to caress with tenderness, to touch the flesh of Jesus, in our poor, sick, or despised brethren. To raise up those who have fallen and support those who waver.”

The column stands at almost 40 feet tall and the statue at 13 feet. It was inaugurated by Pope Pius IX on September 8, 1857, three years after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. He presided over the ceremony from an artificial balcony built for the occasion. 

Almost 100 years later, in 1953, Pius XII began the tradition of bringing flowers to this location every Dec 8. He did so to inaugurate a Marian Year. 

Every year since popes have returned there that same day. It is now a well-established tradition in the Eternal City.

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