On December 8, 2017, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, after the prayer at the foot of the column of the Virgin Mary in Piazza di Spagna, Pope Francis will go on a private visit to Sant’Andrea delle Fratte Basilica, to pray before the effigy of the “Virgin of the Miracle,” for the anticipated anniversary of the apparition to Alphonse Ratisbonne, stated a press release of the Vicariate of Rome, two days earlier.
The Archbishop Vicar Angelo de Donatis will receive the Holy Father, whose arrival in Piazza di Spagna is foreseen for 4:00 pm. He will pray before the monument dedicated to the Virgin and leave flowers at her feet.
The Pontiff’s private visit to Sant’Andrea delle Fratte Basilica will recall the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Alphonse Ratisbonne on January 20, 1842, French priest and missionary of Jewish origin. After the event, Alphonse Ratisbonne converted to Catholicism and, with his brother Theodore, founded the Sisters and Brothers of Our Lady of Sion.
Those in charge of the parish Basilica of the Holy Twelve Apostles, with the Friars Minor Conventuals, the Sveglia Francescana young group, and several volunteers, will animate the day of the Immaculate Conception. “We will distribute the ‘Miraculous Medal’ for free and there will be <priests> available for confessions,” explained Father Aniello Stoia, parish priest of the Holy Twelve Apostles.
Throughout the day, in keeping with tradition, Romans will bring their tribute to the statue of Piazza Mignanelli, a Square close to Piazza di Spagna. The first will be the firemen, who inaugurated this monument on December 8, 1857. They will climb to the top of the statue at 7:30 am to place their crown of flowers.
The firemen will be followed by several processions, such as that of the parish community of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, Padre Pio Prayer groups, the Grand Master of Malta and the group of the “Legion of Mary” in Rome, as well as the Vatican’s Gendarmerie Corps with a fanfare that will interpret a hymn to the Virgin. The great procession of workers of the most important Roman societies will begin around 10:30 am. In this context, there will be a prayer of consecration of workers to Mary, directed by almoner Monsignor Oliviero Pelliccioni.
The cortege of handicapped persons and directors of the Don Gnocchi Foundation will also take part in the day’s celebrations.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester