Piazza Esquilino with Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore


Pope Prays at Santa Maria Maggiore Before Departing for Africa

This Marks Francis’ 27th Time Traveling to Rome’s Marian Basilica to Pray for Mary’s Protection

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Last evening, Pope Francis traveled to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to pray for the success of his trip to Africa, which began this morning. This visit marked the Holy Father’s 27th visit to the Marian Basilica to pray for Mary’s protection and intercession.

According to Vatican Radio, the Pope prayed before the ancient image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, and invoked the Virgin Mary’s protection on his travels and upon the people he will visit in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

Before last night’s stop, the Holy Father’s most recent visit to the Marian Basilica was on Sept. 28, upon his return from his first Apostolic Visit to Cuba and the United States of America.

This morning, Pope Francis, his papal entourage, and journalists boarded the Alitalia plane at about 8 a.m. local time at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and departed shortly thereafter.

The papal flight is scheduled to arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Rome time for the beginning of his first Apostolic Visit to Africa, Nov. 25-30, where he will visit the capitals of Kenya, Uganda, and Central African Republic.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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