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Before trip to Holy Land, Pope prays at St. Mary Major

Catholic World News - May 23, 2014

As he prepared for his trip to the Holy Land, Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major on May 23, to pray before the image of the Virgin, Salus Populi Romani.

The Pope, who will fly to Jordan on Saturday, made his private visit early on Friday morning. He prayed silently for about 15 minutes, placing his trip under the patronage of the Blessed Mother, then left after placing a bouquet at the foot of the famous image.

Pope Francis has made a habit of visiting St. Mary Major at important times in his pontificate. He stopped at the basilica on the day after his election, just before his departure for a trip to Brazil for World Youth Day, and again on his return from that trip. The Pope also stopped at the basilica for a few minutes of private prayer in January of this year. In each case, the Pope’s trip has caught Vatican-watchers by surprise, not being announced on the Pope’s official schedule.

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