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Anabel Mutune, a third grader at Transfiguration Catholic School in Oakdale, Minn., prays during a Children's Rosary Pilgrimage at Transfiguration Church in this Oct. 7, 2020, file photo. Pope Francis has called for a global prayer marathon during the Marian month of May to petition God for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has called for a global prayer marathon for the entire month of May, praying for the end to the pandemic.

"The initiative will involve in a special way all shrines in the world" in promoting the initiative so that individuals, families and communities all take part in reciting the rosary, "to pray for the end of the pandemic," said the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization in a press release April 21.

"It is the heartfelt desire of the Holy Father that the month of May be dedicated to a prayer marathon dedicated to the theme, 'from the entire church an unceasing prayer rises to God,'" it said.

The theme refers to the miraculous event recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (12:1-12) when all the church prayed for Peter, who was imprisoned until God sent an angel to free him, illustrating how the Christian community comes together to pray in the face of danger and how the Lord listens and performs an unexpected miracle.

"It is the heartfelt desire of the Holy Father that the month of May be dedicated to a prayer marathon dedicated to the theme, 'from the entire church an unceasing prayer rises to God."

Each day in May, there will be a livestream from one of 30 chosen Marian shrines or sanctuaries to guide the prayer at 6 p.m. Rome time (noon EDT) on all Vatican media platforms.

The pope will open the monthlong prayer May 1 and conclude it May 31, the council said.

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