Pope Francis paid a private visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major on Thursday afternoon, to pray for the success of his upcoming voyage to Albania.
A brief statement from the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, said the Holy Father made the trip across the city centre to the top of the Esquiline Hill to spend time with Our Lady salus populi Romani – Protectress of the Roman people – whose icon in the church is among the city’s oldest and most beloved objects of Marian devotion.
The visit lasted about a half-hour, at the end of which the Pope left a bouquet of flowers. The basilica was already closed for the day when the Pope arrived, Vatican Radio reported.