Days ago at dinner with three friends, we were talking about the need for a very special prayer service or liturgy because of the coronavirus situation. I told them the story of Pope Gregory I who, in 591, for the plague that struck Rome, organized a procession of faithful to pray for an end to the plague

I said, for those of us who are believers in Our Lord and in the power of prayer and in miracles, think how inspiring it would be if the Holy Father were to pray the rosary for an end to the coronavirus scourge before the image of his (and our) beloved icon Salus populi romani at St. Mary Major Basilica and have faithful throughout the world pray with him for a miracle!

Corona, by the way, means crown in Italian and is also another word for rosary!

This could be done via Vatican media, the Vatican’s YouTube page, Facebook Live and with transmissions by the world’s television. Millions praying with Pope Francis!

And here is the story of Pope Gregory….


Pope Saint Gregory the Great, pope from September 3, 590 to March 12, 604, was both a humble and pious man. It would be an understatement to say he did not want the honor of being the next pope, but he did do everything in his power to try to save his people. He understood that the plague that had struck Rome in 591 was a chastisement from God, and encouraged the faithful to repent of their sins and pray for deliverance while he and the religious cared for the people of Rome.

Finally, Saint Gregory called for a procession to take place at dawn on April 25th. On that day the faithful first assembled in their groups throughout Rome and then walked through the streets of the city praying and singing as they approached the church of Saint Mary Major. The plague was so potent at that time that eighty people collapsed and died as they walked toward the meeting place.

Pope Saint Gregory met them upon their arrival, joining them in prayer as he took his place with them holding aloft the miraculous image of Our Lady painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. As the procession neared the Vatican the participants all saw Saint Michael the archangel standing upon the cupola of Hadrian’s mausoleum as he sheathed his flaming sword. It was a sign that the chastisement had come to an end, and at once the heaviness in the air abated and the air itself seemed to freshen and clear. Indeed, at that moment the plague ended as the faithful rejoiced and lifted up their voices to thank the Mother of God.

“Regina Coeli laetare, Alleluia! (Queen of heaven, rejoice, Alleluia!)
Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia! (Son whom you merited to bear, Alleluia!)
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia! (He has risen as He said, Alleluia!)

(source: https://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/plague-in-rome.html)