Pope Francis will lead a Rosary for peace as a sign of hope for those suffering from the ongoing war in Ukraine and wars around the world.
The news was announced on Ascension Thursday in a statement from the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
On Tuesday, 31 May, at 6pm, the Pope will pray the Rosary before the statue of Mary Regina Pacis in Rome’s Marian Basilica.
“All the faithful in every part of the world are invited to support Pope Francis in his prayer to the Queen of Peace,” the statement encouraged.
Benedict XV commissioned image to implore end to First World War
This statue of Maria Regina Pacis, or “Queen of Peace”, located in the left aisle of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, has a particular history.
It was commissioned by Pope Benedict XV and made by sculptor Guido Galli, at the time the deputy director of the Vatican Museums, to implore the Virgin Mary for an end to the First World War in 1918.
The Madonna is depicted with her left arm raised as a sign to order the end of the war, while with her right she holds the Baby Jesus, ready to drop the olive branch symbolising peace. Flowers are sculpted on the base, symbolising the blossoming of life with the return of peace. It is traditional for the faithful to lay small handwritten notes with prayer intentions at the feet of the Virgin.
The Pope will lay a wreath of flowers at the feet of the image before addressing his prayer to Our Lady and leaving his particular intention.
St. Mary Major on 31 May
Various categories of people representing the faithful will be present to support the Pope’s prayer.
There will be boys and girls who have received their First Communion and Confirmation in recent weeks, Scouts, families from the Ukrainian Community of Rome, representatives of the Marian Ardent Youth (GAM), members of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps and the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and the three parishes in Rome named after the Virgin Mary Queen of Peace, along with members of the Roman Curia.
As a sign of closeness to those most involved in the dynamics of these tragic events, a Ukrainian family, people related to war victims, and a group of military chaplains with their respective corps were invited to pray the decades of the Rosary.
Joining together with international shrines
Another important sign is the involvement of international shrines from all over the world, together with some shrines located in countries still affected by war or with strong political instability within them, which are the cause of many episodes of violence.
These shrines will pray the Rosary at the same time as the Holy Father, and will be connected via streaming to the live broadcast from Rome.
Those shrines that will be in connection with the Pope include: Shrine of the Mother of God in Ukraine; Cathedral of Sayidat al-Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) in Iraq; Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Syria; Cathedral of Mary Queen of Arabia in Bahrain. Alongside these are the International Shrines: Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage; International Shrine of Jesus Saviour and Mother Mary; Shrine of Jasna Góra; International Shrine of the Korean Martyrs; Holy House of Loreto; Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary; International Shrine Our Lady of Knock; Blessed Virgin of the Rosary; Our Lady Queen of Peace; Our Lady of Guadalupe; Our Lady of Lourdes.
On the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, Pope Francis consecrated all humanity—especially Russia and Ukraine—to the Immaculate Heart of Mary toward the end of the liturgy during the annual “24 Hours for the Lord” Lenten penitential service in St. Peter’s Basilica.