Pope Francis paid a visit on Saturday afternoon 20th July 2013 to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome to ask the Virgin for her protection for his upcoming apostolic journey to Brazil, for the young people who will gather at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro and for all young people worldwide.
The Pope came to the Basilica to the 4:45 p.m., where he was welcomed by the Archpriest Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló. He entered through the side door of the Sacristy and immediately went to the chapel where the image of the Madonna Salus Populi Romani is displayed and where the canons of the Basilica and the community of the Dominicans had gathered.
Before the icon of Mary, the Pope spent time in silent prayer, for over half an hour, then he offered a wreath and lit a candle which also carried the symbolic logo of the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.
Since the Basilica was open to the public and many faithful were present, the Pope before leaving stood in front of the central altar of the Basilica, where he listened to a brief address by the Cardinal Archpriest and addressed a few words to the faithful, asking them to also accompany, “with prayer, with faith and penance” his trip to Brazil and his meeting with young people all over the world. The whole visit lasted a little over an hour. At 6.00 p.m., Pope Francis returned to the Vatican.