Pope spends half hour asking Mary for protection

Rome, Italy, Mar 14, 2013 / 04:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis made a private visit to Saint Mary Major Basilica this morning and prayed for half an hour at the Altar of the Virgin Mary.

In keeping with his humble demeanor, Pope Francis entered the basilica at around 8:00 a.m. through a side door, accompanied by Archbishop Georg Gänswein and Father Leonardo Sapienza, the top two officials from the Papal Household.

The night before, when he was introduced to the hundreds of the thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that he was going to “go pray to the Madonna so that she may protect Rome.”

Corrected at 1:50 p.m. Rome time. Removes comments of Cardinal Dolan about visit to Benedict XVI after Vatican press office clarified Pope Francis has not yet gone to Castel Gandolfo.

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