In a city known for its beautiful religious traditions, one of the favorites of local residents will fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since 1953, Popes have visited Rome’s Piazza di Spagna each year on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Joined by local dignitaries and the faithful, the Holy Father blesses the people of the city and everyone around the world. But it will be different in 2020, as is so much of life.
For this year’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis will be entrusting the city of Rome and its inhabitants, as well as the many sick people throughout the world, to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But the act of devotion will be undertaken privately, according to a statement issued on November 30 by the Director of the Holy See Press Office.
In his statement, Matteo Bruni explained that the decision not to go to Piazza di Spagna on the afternoon of the feast was due to the ongoing health emergency, “and is intended to avoid all risk of contagion caused by gatherings.”
It is the custom for the reigning pontiff to make the trip from the Vatican to Rome’s Piazza di Spagna each year on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Solemnity celebrates the “singular grace and privilege” by which “the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception… in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved from all stain of original sin.”
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was believed by the Church from the very beginning but was only formally defined in 1854 by Blessed Pope Pius IX. In 1857, a commemorative column was raised Piazza Mignanelli, close to the Spanish steps in Rome.