This Marian prayer network has spread to many other parts of the world. Photo: Vatican Media

Group of Women Headed by A Princess Pray Over Pope Francis Who Gives Them Three Characteristics of Mary to Imitate

The Holy Father’s address to a delegation from the “Sentinels of the Holy Family”

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 11.01.2024).- On Thursday morning, January 11, Pope Francis received in audience, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, a Delegation of the “Sentinels of the Holy Family,” headed by Princess Sybil of Luxembourg.

The “Sentinels” are a group of women who, since June 21, 2013, initially in Brussels, pray the Rosary “by the invitation of the Virgin Mary,” with very concrete intentions: the Pope, the family, priests, the world. This Marian prayer network has spread to many other parts of the world.


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Here is the Pope’s address to this group that, before taking their leave, prayed over the Holy Father, as can be seen in the first photograph.

* * *


Ladies, dear Sentinels, good morning!

With joy I welcome you, Sentinels of the Holy Family, and greet Her Royal Highness Princess Sybil of Luxembourg.

Yours is a Marian prayer network — praying with Our Lady is beautiful — founded ten years ago, whose vocation is to present the intentions of the Church and the world to our Holy Mother. I appreciate the simplicity and humility of your movement, which arose spontaneously in the common prayer of the first among you. The commitment required of one who wants to become a “sentinel” is simple, it might even seem laughable: recite a decade of the Rosary every day. Very simple. It is small in the eyes of men, but it is much in the eyes of God, if it is done faithfully over time, with faith and in a spirit of communion among you. God loves what is small and makes it bear fruit.

The fact that your movement is made up only of women sheds light on your specific and irreplaceable vocation in the Church, in the image of the Virgin Mary. You not only pray to Our Lady, asking her to intercede, but you are, moreover, disposed to conform yourselves to her, to her motherhood, to unite yourselves to her prayer of intercession as a mother for all the children of the Church and for the world. Thus, whatever your state in life, with Mary you are all mothers. Your prayer and your commitment as «sentinels» are oriented according to the model of Mary, with certain characteristics.


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[1st The gaze you cast on others and on the world]

I think first of all of the gaze you cast on others and on the realities of the world. May it always be like that of the Virgin Mary, a mother’s gaze, patient, understanding, compassionate. And I invite you to imbue your whole life and all your relationships with this gaze, not only when you find yourselves together as “sentinels” and in moments of prayer, but in your daily life, in the family, in the parish, in your workplace.

[2nd To keep and ponder in the heart]

Moreover, we have also heard recently in the liturgy that Mary kept and pondered events in her heart. You certainly bring to your prayers events that may be painful, personally or entrusted to you by others. You also bring the intentions of the world, ravaged by so many conflicts, so much violence and so much indifference; and also those of many people who are suffering, abandoned, rejected or in great difficulty. All this may provoke incomprehension, discouragement. But Mary, seeing the child Jesus suffer poverty, does not become discouraged; she does not complain. She remains silent; she keeps her heart and meditates (cf. Homily, 1 January 2022). » That is what mothers do: they know how to overcome obstacles and disagreements, and to instil peace. In this way, they transform problems into opportunities for rebirth and growth» (ibid.). I wish you all the best in helping people to discover the meaning of what they live, and always to keep hope and trust in the future.


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[3rd Tenderness]

Finally, tenderness. Our world, as well as our brothers and sisters, need tenderness more than ever: a word that some would perhaps like to remove from the dictionary! (cf. Homily, 1 January 2019). How harsh the world is sometimes today, implacable, deaf and indifferent to the suffering and needs of our neighbour. Mary was tenderness for Jesus; and she is tenderness for the Church and the world. This is certainly also the vocation of a “sentinel”: to incarnate in some way Mary’s tenderness for the Church and the world.


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I thank you once again for your visit and for your devotion. I wish for you to persevere courageously. May your growth, numerical and geographical, not make you lose your simplicity and smallness of heart. I bless you, and I ask you not to forget me in your prayers. Thank you.

Translation of the Italian original by the Holy See

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