Preparing for papal visit to iraq

Pope Francis entrusts Iraq visit to protection of Our Lady

Pope Francis prays before the ancient icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani to entrust his Apostolic Journey to Iraq to the protection of Our Lady.

By Devin Watkins

As per his long-established tradition on the eve of trips abroad, Pope Francis traveled across Rome on Thursday afternoon to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

He paused to pray for a moment before the ancient Roman icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani.

According to the Holy See Press Office, the Pope entrusted his upcoming visit to Iraq to Our Lady’s protection.

He is scheduled to depart Rome on Friday morning for his 33rd Apostolic Visit abroad, which takes him to Iraq on 5-8 March.

Devotion to ancient Roman icon

Pope Francis laid a bouquet of flowers on the altar below the ancient image of the “Salvation of the Roman people”, which is housed in the Borghese chapel.