The Vatican News Service reports that during this month of May dedicated to Mary, celebrations are taking place at St. Peter’s include Saturday candlelight processions, with the recitation of the Rosary and Wednesday prayers and Mass with visits to the primary works dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in St. Peter’s Basilica. On Wednesdays throughout May at 4 pm prayers will be offered, starting in the Basilica atrium and proceeding to various places inside where the primary works dedicated to the Virgin Mary are found. Prayers will conclude at 5 pm, followed by the celebration of the Eucharist. Then, on every Saturday evening in May, a candlelight procession will take place in St. Peter’s Square from 9 til 10 pm with a reproduction of the image of Mary “Mater Ecclesiae” that will accompany the recitation of the Rosary led by Cardinal Angelo Comastri.
The “Mater Ecclesiae” image was painted on a column of the ancient Constantinian basilica pre-dating the current basilica on the same site. Pope Saint John Paul II in 1981 blessed a mosaic inspired by this painting, visible in St. Peter’s Square on the Apostolic Palace, expressing his desire “that all those who will come to St. Peter’s Square may raise their gaze to her, to direct to her their sentiments of filial trust, their greetings and their prayers.” The synodal path inaugurated a few months ago by Pope Francis identifies the “Mater Ecclesiae” as an inspiration for the Church that renews in the Spirit the enthusiasm and missionary drive of the Apostles, and as a help and example so that we may walk together following Christ, as Mary says to us in the Gospel “do whatever He tells you.”