This morning we celebrated Mass in the Basilica of St Mary Major. It is one of the oldest Churches in the West dedicated to Our Lady. The basilica has a relic of the manger in which Mary placed the baby Jesus at Bethlehem. It also houses the greatly loved Icon of Mary called ‘Salvation of the Roman People’. Tradition maintains that it was painted by St Luke. Before Pope Francis goes on foreign travels he firstly comes to St Mary Major and prays for Our Lady’s intercession at the Icon.
When the Holy Father met with the Scottish bishops last week he told us that he would be asking every Catholic to pray the Rosary daily during the month of October for the protection of the Church from Satan. The Rosary is a beautiful prayer which draws us into God’s love by reflecting on the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ. Furthermore, we are turning to our Heavenly Mother for protection. This morning we bishops prayed the Rosary together after Mass before the Icon of Our Lady. I encourage you to embrace the Pope’s request by praying the Rosary every day for the Church either alone or as a family or in the parish.
The Pope, reminding us that we are involved in constant spiritual warfare with Satan, suggests that when we finish the Rosary we pray to St Michael:
Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and you, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.