POPE FRANCIS OFFERS A FLORAL HOMAGE TO THE IMMACULATA

POPE FRANCIS OFFERS A FLORAL HOMAGE TO THE IMMACULATA

It was a festive holiday and holy day weekend here, with a focus on the December 8th feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holiday in the Vatican and throughout Italy. Millions of Italians traveled this weekend, many to Rome to be present for Friday’s inauguration of the Vatican’s sand nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square and the lighting of the 75-foot tall red fir Christmas tree, a gift of Italy’s northern Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and the diocese of Concordia-Pordenone. The 700-ton nativity sand sculpture is a gift of the resort town of Jesolo, north of Venice, and the Patriarchate of Venice. The scene seems as if it was carved of beige marble!

Saturday, the feast of the Immaculata, is the day that Popes traditionally travel to the Spanish Steps to place a floral homage at the foot of the column atop which is a statue of Mary Immaculate and to recite a prayer of petition. The tradition of offering flowers to her image here on this feast day was begun by Pope Pius XII. Francis continued that tradition Saturday and also visited the basilica of St. Mary Major. On his way home to the Vatican, the Pope stopped off at the main office of one of Rome’s major newspapers, Il Messagero, causing a bit of a traffic jam on this always-busy shopping street that overflows with shoppers on December 8. (photos Marina Testina EWTN)

Both Saturday and Sunday, the Holy Father recited the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. Vatican gendarmes estimated the Saturday crowd of faithful at 45,000.

This feast day, of course, commemorates the conception of Mary in her mother’s womb without original sin.

The Immaculata is a very important feast for Americans as Mary Immaculate is the patroness of both the United States and the US seminary in Rome, the Pontifical North American College. On December 8, the seminarians, staff, faculty and invited guests, attend Mass in the chapel, after which they enjoy a special meal. Three toasts are always made – to the Holy Father, the United States and the seminary.

The Spanish Steps, this famous square in the heart of Rome, is named for the Palazzo di Spagna, a magnificent building on the piazza that has housed the Spanish embassy to the Holy See since 1647.

Every year, early in the morning of December 8, Roman firemen place a garland atop the statue of Mary Immaculate and by day’s end, thousands of Romans will have followed in their footsteps, offering floral homages to Mary. The column and statue were originally erected with the help of 220 firemen, which is why the floral tributes always include a garland of flowers placed in Our Lady’s arms by a member of Rome’s fire department.

 

Single flowers as well as bouquets are placed on a table at the foot of the column bearing the statue and Conventual Franciscan Friars and Minim Friars arrange them in an orderly fashion, often creating elegant wreaths.

The ancient Roman column of cipolin marble was found in 1777 in the monastery of Our Lady of the Conception in central Rome and brought to Pza. di Spagna on September 8 (the traditional birthday of Our Lady) 1857. to commemorate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception three years earlier.

That pedestal is adorned with two bas-reliefs. One represents Saint Joseph being warned by the Angel during his sleep about the mystery of the Incarnation; the other shows Pius IX proclaiming the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Under the first bas-relief are written the simple but sublime words of the angelic greeting: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.

Pius IX’s solemn definition of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854, a “day forever memorable in the Church’s annals.” After centuries of discussion and the 1849 consultation with the world’s bishops, the pope proceeded with the solemn definition that “the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of God, in consideration of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved free from all stain of original sin. …”

The Immaculate Conception also speaks to us of Mary’s love for God. Mary is the “most excellent work” of Christ’s salvation, redeemed by a “sublime grace.”

An important step in the development of the belief was the miraculous Medal, originally the Medal of the Immaculate Conception. In the second of three apparitions, on November 27, 1830, St. Catherine Laboure, at the time a novice of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, saw an image of Mary standing on a globe with rays of light coming from her hands, a sign of the help she wished to bestow. The image was framed with the words, “0 Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The reverse of the medal showed the letter M surmounted by a cross with a bar; below it were the hearts of Jesus and Mary, all surrounded by the Twelve Stars of the Apocalypse. Catherine was instructed: “Have a medal struck from the image and those who wear it will receive the protection of the Mother of God.” Ad this was long before the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed.

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HAPPY FEAST DAY, MARY IMMACULATE! – POPE URGES CHRISTIANS TO IMITATE MARY: SAY “YES” TO GOD – HOLY FATHER PAYS HOMAGE TO MARY IMMACULATE

Mass this morning in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the North American College was, as is every liturgy as NAC, truly splendid. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò was the main celebrant but there were at least 100 in the sanctuary at the offertory, including cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, and acolytes.

Lunch later was a wonderful moment as well – a great menu, lots of terrific conversation and untold laughs as well. I cherish every moment I can spend with these young men, the newly ordained priests and deacons or the men now in their first, second or third year from dioceses around the U.S. and also Australia.

I did not take a single photo today, just enjoyed every moment. I prayed for everyone who has asked me for prayers for whatever reason and I handed those petitions over to Mary!

HAPPY FEAST DAY, MARY IMMACULATE!

December 8, the Solemnity of the Immacolata, the day devoted to the Immaculate Conception, is a holy day and a national holiday in Italy and hugely important for Italian families. Occurring as it does this year on a Thursday, many working Italians will take Friday off as well, creating a ponte or bridge to a long weekend.

Several main streets in the center of Rome are closed for the traditional afternoon visit by the Pope to both St. Mary Major basilica and to the Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, to pay homage to the image of Mary there. This famous square in the heart of Rome is named for the Palazzo di Spagna, a magnificent building on the piazza that has housed the Spanish embassy to the Holy See since 1647.

Every year, early in the morning of December 8, Roman firemen place a garland atop the statue of Mary Immaculate and by day’s end, thousands of Romans will have followed in their footsteps, offering floral homages to Mary. The column and statue were originally erected with the help of 220 firemen, which is why the floral tributes always include a garland of flowers placed in Our Lady’s arms by a member of Rome’s fire department. The tradition of offering flowers to her image here on this feast day was begun by Pope Pius XII.

immaculata

Single flowers as well as bouquets are placed on a table at the foot of the column bearing the statue and, for many hours, Conventual Franciscan Friars and Minim Friars arrange them in an orderly fashion, often creating elegant wreaths.

The ancient Roman column of cipolin marble was found in 1777 in the monastery of Our Lady of the Conception in central Rome and brought to Piazza di Spagna on September 8 (birthday of the Virgin Mary), 1857 to celebrate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception three years earlier.

Here is the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception as declared on December 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX in his Bull Ineffabilis Deus: “We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”

POPE URGES CHRISTIANS TO IMITATE MARY: SAY “YES” TO GOD

At the Angelus on Thursday, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s readings about the Fall of Adam and Eve and the Annunciation, saying “The readings of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary are two crucial passages in the history of the relationship between man and God:  We might say they lead us to the origins of good and evil.”

The first reading, hr said, tell us about the origins of sin, man’s first ‘no’ to God, when “he preferred to look at himself, not his Creator, thus shattering communion with God. … This makes sin, but the Lord does not leave man at the mercy of his evil; He immediately seeks him out and asks a question full of apprehension: ‘Where are you?’ It is the question of a father or a mother searching for a lost child…and this God does with much patience, in order to bridge the distance which arose at the beginning.”

The, we have the Annunciation, said Francis, when “God comes to dwell among us, [and] he becomes man like us. … And this was made possible by ‘a great yes,’ that of Mary at the Annunciation. Through this ‘yes’ Jesus began his way along the road of humanity; it began in Mary, spending the first months of his life within mother’s womb; not appearing already an adult and strong, but by following the entirety of the path of what it means to be human.”

Pope Francis underscored the fact Mary is described as “full of grace,” meaning there is “no room for sin…without a shadow of evil.”

The Holy Father then encouraged Christians to give their “Yes” to God, as this allow the Lord to create for us a “new story,” as opposed to sin, which makes us “old inside.”

In Advent, especially, said the Pope, “God desires to see us and awaits our ‘yes’.'”

After reciting the Marian prayer, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims and families of the 6.5 earthquake that the Aceh Province of Indonesia on Wednesday, killing at least 100 people. The same region of Indonesia was hit by the December 2004 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed over 100,000 people in just this one province and tens of thousands more in faraway lands.

“I wish to assure you of my prayers for the victims and their families, for the injured and for those who have lost their homes. May the Lord give strength to the population and support the rescue efforts.”

HOLY FATHER PAYS HOMAGE TO MARY IMMACULATE

Pope Francis visited the Piazza di Spagna in Rome on Thursday for the celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, where he laid a bouquet of white roses near the Column of the Immaculate Conception and prayed especially for families and for workers. He made his way to Rome’s Spanish Square to pay homage to the Immaculate Virgin, just as the Bishop of Rome has annually for the past 50 years.

pxa-di-spagna

Flanked by the Rome’s mayor, Pope Francis placed a bouquet of white roses at the base of the column of the Immaculate Conception and led those present in a prayer for her feast day. He prayed especially for abandoned children, for families struggling to make ends meet, and for men and women in search of work.

He said, “We have need of your immaculate heart, to love freely, without secondary aims but seeking the good of the other, with simplicity and sincerity, renouncing masks and tricks.”

Above all, the Holy Father prayed Our Lady to “Let us not give in to discouragement, but that, trusting in your constant help, we may engage ourselves fully in renewal of self, of this city and of the entire world.”

After the prayer, the Pope greeted many of those gathered in the square and blessed the sick and elderly. He then made a short stop at the Basilica of St. Mary Major’s, before returning to the Vatican, to pray silently before the image of Maria Salus Populi Romani, the protectress of the people of Rome.

Click here for his full prayer: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/12/08/pope_makes_traditional_visit_to_immaculate_conception_statue/1277760