Pope Francis’ prayer to Our Lady for exploited children, families and the unemployed

A firefighter places a wreath at the foot of a tall statue of Mary overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Rome's firefighters have observed the tradition every year since 1857. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)A firefighter places a wreath at the foot of a tall statue of Mary overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Following a tradition started by St. John XXIII in 1958 and continued by his successors, Pope Francis went this afternoon to Rome’s Spanish Steps to pray in front of the statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception that towers over the piazza. There he asked her to intercede with God to help and protect the inhabitants of this city and the citizens of the world, and especially children, families, workers and the unemployed.

“I come to you on this your feast, and I come not just alone. I bring with me all those that your Son has entrusted to me in this city of Rome and in the whole world, so that you may bless them and save them from dangers,” he said, reading from a prayer that he had written for the occasion.

Advertisement

This is the fourth time that Francis has come here on Dec. 8, the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Many thousands of Romans, pilgrims and tourists lined the streets of Rome on this cold, clear day and cheered enthusiastically as he drove in his blue Ford Focus from the Vatican to the Spanish Steps.

After being welcomed on arrival by the cardinal vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini, and the city’s young mayor, Virginia Raggi, the pope stood in silent prayer for a minute in front of the tall statue of Our Lady erected here by Pope Pius IX in 1857 to commemorate the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Pius IX proclaimed this dogma on Dec. 8, 1854, affirming that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, through a singular privilege and grace of God, was born without the stain of original sin.    

The pope then read a short prayer that not only expressed his deep, personal love and veneration for the Mother of Jesus but also his care and concern for people in difficult situations across the globe.

He prayed in the first place for “children, especially those alone and abandoned, and who are deceived and exploited because of this.” His prayer reflected his constant effort to combat the trafficking and exploitation of children worldwide.

Next, he asked Our Lady to help families, especially those “that are struggling most because of many external and internal problems.” Earlier this year he expressed this concern for families in “Amoris Laetitia,” which calls pastors and the whole church to attend to the needs and challenges of families.

RELATED: Top Ten Takeaways from “Amoris Laetitia”

He went on to entrust to Our Lady all workers, “especially those who have to do undignified work” and “those who have lost their jobs or cannot find work.” His prayer gave voice to his growing concern at the plight of the unemployed, and especially the vast numbers of young people in Italy and other European countries who cannot get a job.

He appealed to Our Lady to teach people to look “on others and on things, with respect” and “without egoistic interests or hypocrisy.” This was an echo of what he expressed in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” on the care of our common home.

He prayed that Mary, too, would help people understand how to “caress with tenderness, and touch the flesh of Christ in the poor, the sick and the despised” and “help the one who has fallen to get up and sustain the one who is wavering.”

Francis, who will celebrate his 80th birthday on Dec. 17, concluded his prayer by asking Our Lady to help people not to give in to discouragement but instead “to commit themselves to renew ourselves, our city and the world.”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

 A photo panel shows Pennsylvania Bishops Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg, David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh, Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Alfred A. Schlert of Allentown, Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg and Lawrence T. Persico of Erie. The Pennsylvania attorney general released a grand jury report Aug. 14 on a months-long investigation into abuse claims spanning a 70-year period in the six dioceses. (CNS photo/courtesy of the dioceses)
The state’s attorney general said that his office’s two-year investigation identified 301 priests who abused children and more than 1,000 victims.
One of the leading novelists of our age on faith, fiction and his distrust of religious institutions.
James T. KeaneAugust 14, 2018
Panel members Ivor Frank and Alexis Jay at a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (courtesy of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse)
The new report finds evidence of appalling sexual and physical mistreatment of students as young as 7, as well as a culture of secrecy, at two abbey schools.
David StewartAugust 14, 2018
The Gospel calls on all of us to get past “analysis paralysis,” where direct action is always put off in favor of more research and discernment.
Mary M. McConnahaAugust 14, 2018