ROME — Pope Francis visited Rome’s popular Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love to pray the Rosary for peace, especially in Syria.
The pope invited pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square April 29 to join his prayers May 1 at the shrine and “to prolong for the whole month of May praying the Rosary for peace.”
May is a month Catholics traditionally devote to Mary.
After Pope Francis entered the old 18th-century church at the shrine May 1, one of the Daughters of Our Lady of Divine Love, the religious order founded there, introduced the Rosary by quoting from Pope Francis’ Easter address: “Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.”
The pope was joined by just over 100 people, including a few children and young adults, who assisted in leading the recitation of the prayers. Hundreds of others were gathered outside and along the paths to the new church, which was consecrated in 1999.
After the Rosary and the singing of Hail, Holy Queen, the congregation offered special prayers “for the intentions of the Holy Father” and then chanted the Loreto litany, a list mainly of the various titles of Mary — Holy Mother of God, Mother of the Church, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners and, of course, Mother of Divine Love — followed by the petition, “Pray for us.”
Pope Francis gave no homily or speech, simply leading the crowd in prayer and offering his apostolic blessing.
The visit to the shrine was the start of May, during which the pope said he would pray for peace. Addressing the crowd April 29 after praying the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis prayed that the hopes for peace strengthened by the meeting of the leaders of North and South Korea won’t be dashed, and he urged Catholics during the month of May to pray the Rosary for peace.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a “courageous commitment” April 27 to ongoing dialogue to achieve “a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons,” Pope Francis said.
“I pray to the Lord that the hopes for a future of peace and more brotherly friendship will not be disappointed and that the collaboration may continue bringing good fruits for the beloved Korean people and the whole world,” the pope said.
“We will recite the Rosary praying particularly for peace in Syria and the whole world,” the pope said. “I invite you to spiritually join me and to prolong for the whole month of May praying the Rosary for peace.”