On Sunday evening, October 15, the Diocese of Rome convoked the faithful to pray a Rosary for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the world.
Led by Cardinal Vicar Angelo De Donatis, the Rosary was held outside the papal basilica of St. Mary Major. It is this basilica that has the image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, the Protectress of the Roman People.
The image was placed before the faithful for the Rosary.
The Marian image is one of the oldest that exists, and it is traditionally attributed to St. Luke, the apostle and artist.
Similar to Our Lady of Czestochowa, it is believed this image was discovered by St. Helena and taken first to Constantinople. By the 6th century the image was transferred to Rome and ever since has been enshrined in the church of Saint Mary Major.
Already in the 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great is said to have had the image processed through Rome to stop a plague that was spreading through the city.
It is this image that Pope Francis visits before and after his journeys. It is also the image he had brought to St. Peter’s Square in the height of the pandemic, for the extraordinary “urbi et orbi.”