At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis promised to visit this image of the Virgin Mary.
March 13, 2013
The icon is found in St. Mary Major, the papal basilica in Rome. Pope Francis has a very special devotion to it and has visited the image 101 times. The most recent time was after his trip to Bahrain.
The Pope usually begins and ends each of his papal trips by praying before this icon of Salus Populi Romani, the patroness of Rome. The image first came to Rome in 590 during the pontificate of Gregory I. According to tradition, the early Christians venerated it.
After being elected in 2013, Pope Francis spoke of the Virgin as the guardian of Rome.
May 5, 2013
A mother helps her children look at life's problems realistically, and not dwell on them, but to face them with courage, and not to be weak and to know how to overcome them.
The Pope has made very special offerings before the icon, such as this ball that he brought from Rio de Janeiro after World Youth Day in 2013.
Pope Francis' devotion to the Virgin Mary has not waivered, even when he could not pray in St. Mary Major. On March 27, 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic, he prayed the Urbi et Orbi blessing in a deserted St. Peter's Square. He was accompanied only by this icon and the miraculous crucifix from the Church of San Marcello al Corso.
March 27, 2020
The storm has uncovered our vulnerability and lays bare those false and superfluous securities with which we build our agendas, our projects, our habits and priorities.
Pope Francis has been able to return to pryaing before the icon of Salus Populi Romani in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. If there are no surprises, the next time he will visit the icon will be in February 2023 before his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.