Piazza Esquilino with Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore


Pope Prays at Santa Maria Maggiore Before Departing for Lesbos

Francis Travels to Rome’s Marian Basilica to Pray for Mary’s Protection for His Visit to Greek Island to Meet With Refugees

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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 the Greek island of Lesbos tomorrow, where he will meet with refugees. The Holy Father almost always visits Rome’s Marian Basilica to pray for Mary’s protection and intercession before and after his papal trips.
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 on the Greek Island.
He presented a bouquet of white and blue roses, which are the colors of the Greek flag.
Before last night’s stop, the Holy Father’s most recent visit to the Marian Basilica was in February, upon his return from his Apostolic Visit to Mexico.
Tomorrow morning, Pope Francis, his papal entourage, and journalists will board the Alitalia plane at about 7 a.m. local time at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and will depart shortly thereafter.

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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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