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Pope Prays at Santa Maria Maggiore - © PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Returning From Ireland, Pope Stops at Santa Maria Maggiore & Makes Surprise Visit to Santa Monica

On St. Monica’s Feast Day, Pope Visited Church of St. Augustine Near Pantheon

Monday morning after having landed in Rome’s Ciampino Airport, Aug. 26, 2018, Pope Francis traveled to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to offer thanks for his two-day trip to Ireland, for the occasion of the World Meeting of Families.

Then, unexpectedly, he made a detour to the Church of St. Augustine in Rome’s Campo Marzio neighborhood, to visit and pray at the tomb of Augustine’s mother, Santa Monica, whose Liturgical Memorial falls today, Aug. 27, 2018.

According to a note from the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father made his usual detour to go to the Marian Basilica, where he always venerates the icon before and after his international apostolic trips. During his time inside, Francis prayed before the ancient image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, in silence for several minutes.

Then, Francis made the unexpected stop to the other little Roman Church steps from Rome’s Pantheon, where St. Monica’s relics are kept in the little chapel, to the left of the main altar.

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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