It was still nighttime when Pope Francis arrived in Piazza di Spagna to pay homage to the Immaculate Conception.
The pope got out of the blue Ford Focus under the rain. He was wearing a mask and was protected by an umbrella.
Some firefighters were waiting for him. Every year, at that hour, they place a wreath on the statue of the Blessed Mother. This time they were accompanied by the pope, who also brought some flowers.
Pope Francis remained in silence, praying for some moments.
The pope then moved on to another location in Rome, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. There the Cardinal Archpriest Stanisław Ryłko awaited him.
Pope Francis presented another bouquet of flowers, this time to the Salus Populi Romani, the patron of the Eternal City. Then he went down to the crypt to celebrate mass in private.
The pope celebrated with great devotion and surrounded by very few collaborators.
Then, returned to the Vatican.
The reason for going at dawn was to avoid crowds of people.
He usually visits the statue every Dec. 8 in the afternoon and is accompanied by thousands of Romans. Although the pandemic has forced the cancellation of this gathering, the pope did not want to miss the annual visit to the statue that represents the Mother of Jesus.