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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

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.

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a 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 four languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': or

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