Vatican to Lead Candlelight Rosary Processions, Walking Prayer Services During May to Honor Mary

Cardinal Angelo Comastri will lead a candlelight Rosary procession around St. Peter’s Square on the four Saturdays of May. A second Vatican initiative will be a walking prayer service stopping at images of the Virgin Mary found in St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesdays.

In St. Peter’s Square is the mosaic dedicated to Mary, Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church). The mosaic was installed after the assassination attempt against Pope St. John Paul II in 1981.
In St. Peter’s Square is the mosaic dedicated to Mary, Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church). The mosaic was installed after the assassination attempt against Pope St. John Paul II in 1981. (photo: Mateusz Kuca / Shutterstock)

Throughout the month of May, the Vatican will host two weekly occasions for prayer in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it was announced on Monday.


On the four Saturdays of May, from 9 to 10pm, Cardinal Angelo Comastri will lead a candlelight Rosary procession around St. Peter’s Square.

A candlelight Stations of the Cross in St. Peter’s Square on Good Friday 2021.
A candlelight Stations of the Cross is held in St. Peter’s Square on Good Friday 2021.(Photo: National Catholic Register/Vatican Media)


A reproduction of the image of Mary under her title Mater Ecclesiae, which means “Mother of the Church,” will be present in the square during the Rosary.

Cardinal Comastri, who is the former archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, also led a daily livestreamed Rosary during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns.

A second Vatican initiative for the month of May will be a walking prayer service stopping at images of the Virgin Mary found in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The walking prayer will take place on the four Wednesdays of May at 4:00pm and will be followed by the celebration of Mass at 5pm.

Pope Francis has called Catholics to pray the Rosary every day for peace.

The original Mater Ecclesiae image of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child was painted on a column in old St. Peter’s Basilica, built by Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. It was later transferred to the 16th-century St. Peter’s Basilica, where it can still be seen above one of the side altars.


A mosaic of the Virgin Mary overlooking St. Peter’s Square was inspired by the original Mater Ecclesiae image. The mosaic was installed after the assassination attempt against Pope St. John Paul II in 1981.

When he blessed the mosaic, John Paul II prayed “that all those who will come to this St. Peter’s Square will lift up their gaze towards you [Mary], to direct, with feelings of filial trust, their greetings and their prayers.”

In 2018, Pope Francis added the memorial of “Mary, Mother of the Church” to the liturgical calendar for the Monday after Pentecost.

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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