At 6:00 p.m. Rome time, in St. Peter's Basilica and before the image of Our Lady of Help, venerated since the 7th century, the Pope began the chain of prayer of the Rosary to pray for the end of the pandemic, which will last until May 31. On that day, the last day of May, the Holy Father will also close the prayer chain, which each day of the month will be dedicated to a different Marian shrine around the world.
After praying the five mysteries and singing the Salve and the Litany of the Laurel, Francis addressed a special prayer to the Blessed Virgin: "In the present dramatic situation, full of suffering and anguish that envelops and besets the whole world, we turn to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection. The Pope then blessed the rosaries that will be sent to the thirty shrines that will be responsible for leading the prayer of the Rosary in their countries, and which everyone will be able to join through the media.
The monastery of Montserrat, in Spain, has been selected for the prayer on May 22, and among the other shrines are those of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, Częstochowa in Poland, the Annunciation in Nazareth, Aparecida in Brazil, Luján in Argentina, Loreto in Italy or the Immaculate Conception in the United States.
Also at the Regina Coeli today, May 2, when Mother's Day is celebrated in many places, the Pope once again turned his gaze to Mary to ask her to "help us to remain in Christ, in his love, in his word, so as to bear witness to the Risen Lord in the world".
From the pontifical apartments overlooking St. Peter's Square, the Pope addressed those present, limited in number due to known health reasons, and the whole world. In his remarks after the midday Marian prayer, he echoed the request of Myanmar Catholics to dedicate one Hail Mary of the daily rosary to pray for peace in their country.
In his commentary on the Gospel of this Fifth Sunday of Easter, which contains the parable of the vine and the branches, the Holy Father highlighted Jesus' insistence on the verb "to remain": "Remain in me and I in you" (John 15:4), Jesus says; and he repeats it six other times in the passage proposed by the liturgy. Francis explained that it is a question of an "active" permanence, he explained, and also of a "reciprocal" permanence. In fact, "without the vine the branches can do nothing, they need the sap to grow and bear fruit; but the vine also needs the branches, because the fruit does not sprout from the trunk of the tree".
We Christians need Jesus, because without Him we cannot be good Christians. But also, "Jesus, like the vine with the branches, needs us". In what sense? The Holy Father answers: "He needs our witness".
This is precisely the fruit that we must bear, like branches. To proclaim to the world the good news of the Kingdom in word and deed is the task of all Christians, ever since Jesus ascended into heaven with his Father. And it is union with Christ, especially in prayer, that assures us of "the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that we can do good to our neighbor and to society, to the Church. The tree is recognized by its fruits. A truly Christian life bears witness to Christ".
Other mentions of the Holy Father after the Regina Coeli were for the recent beatification in Venezuela of the physician Jorge Gregorio Hernandez, and for the Orthodox Christians and those of the Eastern Churches who celebrate Easter today, in accordance with their liturgical tradition.