After two weeks of reduced activity, due to a lung inflammation, the Pope left the Vatican yesterday. Before going to the Spanish Steps, in the center of the Italian capital, to pray at the foot of the statue of the Virgin Mary, the Pope stopped at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to venerate the icon of the Madonna and Child. Salus Populi Romani y offer you the Golden Rose, symbol of papal blessing.
Then, during the traditional prayer, he asked the Immaculate Virgin to turn her "eyes of mercy on all peoples oppressed by injustice and poverty, tried by war: "Mother, look upon the tormented people of Ukraine, the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, once again plunged into the spiral of violence".
"Show us again, O Mother, the way of conversion, for there is no peace without forgiveness and no forgiveness without repentance," the Pontiff prayed. "The world changes if hearts change; and each one must say: beginning with mine."
This is the full text of the Pope's prayer in the act of veneration to the Immaculate Conception in the Plaza de España:
Prayer of the Holy Father to the Immaculate Conception in Rome
We come to you with hearts divided between hope and anguish.
We need you, our Mother.
But first and foremost we want to thank you
because silently, as is your style, you watch over this city
who today wraps you in flowers to tell you his love.
Silently, day and night, you watch over us:
about families, with their joys and worries - you know this well;
on places of study and work; on institutions and public offices;
on hospitals and nursing homes; on prisons; on those living on the streets;
in the parishes and in all the communities of the Church of Rome.
Thank you for your discreet and constant presence
that gives us comfort and hope.
We need you, Mother,
because you are the Immaculate Conception.
Your person, the very fact that you exist
reminds us that evil has neither the first nor the last word;
that our destiny is not death, but life,
is not hatred but fraternity, not conflict but harmony,
is not war, but peace.
Looking at you, we feel confirmed in this faith
that events sometimes put to the test.
And you, Mother, turn your eyes of mercy
on all peoples oppressed by injustice and poverty,
tested by war: Mother, look at the tormented people of Ukraine,
to the Palestinian people and the Israeli people,
plunged back into the spiral of violence.
Today, Holy Mother, we bring here under your gaze
to so many mothers who, like you, are in mourning.
Mothers mourning their children killed by war and terrorism.
Mothers who see them depart on journeys of desperate hope.
And so are the mothers who try to untie them from the bonds of addiction,
and those who observe them through a long and hard illness.
Today, Mary, we need you as a woman,
to entrust all women who have suffered violence to you
and those who are still victims of it,
in this city, in Italy and all over the world.
You know them one by one, you know their faces.
Dry, we pray you, their tears and those of their loved ones.
And help us to make a path of education and purification,
recognizing and counteracting the violence that stalks
in our hearts and minds
and asking God to deliver us from it.
Show us again, O Mother, the way of conversion,
because there is no peace without forgiveness
and there is no forgiveness without repentance.
The world changes if hearts change;
and everyone should say: starting with mine.
But only God can change the human heart
with his grace: the grace in which you, Mary,
you are immersed from the very first moment.
The grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
whom thou hast begotten in the flesh,
who died and rose again for us, and whom you always point out to us.
He is salvation, for every man and for the world.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Thy kingdom of love, justice and peace come.