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Health / Salvation of the Roman People

June 13, 2024
Post courtesy of
Rafael Villongco

June 4 - Today is the Feast of the ancient and venerable icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus known as “SALUS POPULI ROMANI” (“HEALTH / SALVATION OF THE ROMAN PEOPLE”).
This Byzantine icon of the Madonna and the Child holding the Gospel book on a gold background, now heavily overpainted, is kept in the Borghese (Pauline) Chapel of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major [“Santa Maria Maggiore”].
The image arrived in Rome in 590 A.D. during the reign of Pope St. Gregory I. Pope Gregory XVI granted the image a Canonical Coronation on 15 August 1838 through the papal bull “Cælestis Regina”. Pope Pius XII crowned the Our Lady’s image again and ordered a public religious procession during the Marian Year on November 1, 1954. The image was cleaned and restored by the Vatican Museum, then given a Pontifical Mass on 28 January 2018.
The phrase “Salus Populi Romani” goes back to the legal system and pagan rituals of the ancient Roman Republic. After the legalization of Christianity by Emperor Constantine the Great through the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, the phrase was sanctioned as a title for the Holy Mother of God.
The Memorial of the icon of “Salus Populi Romani”, established in 2023, commemorates the events of Rome during World War II when, in the spring of 1944, Pope Pius XII made a vow to the Blessed Virgin for the city's salvation as Nazi and allied armies clashed. On 4 June 1944, the day the vow was made at the Church of Saint Ignatius, allied troops entered Rome without Nazi resistance. A historic photo shows the Pope thanking Our Lady from the Loggia of Saint Peter’s. Ten (10) years later, Pope Pius XII honored the Marian icon with a solemn procession to St. Peter's Basilica, where it was crowned Queen. The crown, created in 1954 by Aurelio Mistruzzi and Spartaco Leclerc, is displayed in the Historical Museum of Santa Maria Maggiore.
orate pro nobis et pro populo Romano!
OUR LADY, HEALTH AND SALVATION OF THE ROMAN PEOPLE, pray for us and for the Roman people!

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