Italian bishops to lead prayers to Mary at shrine near COVID-19 epicenter

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) – Like bishops in the United States and Canada, the bishops of Italy will begin the Marian month of May by consecrating their nation to the care of Mary with special prayers for her intercession in ending the coronavirus pandemic.

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, president of the Italian bishops' conference, announced the special consecration April 20, saying it was in response to hundreds of requests from Italian faithful.

The bishops will "entrust the entire country to the protection of the Mother of God as a sign of salvation and hope," the bishops' conference said. "It will do so at 9 p.m. May 1 with a moment of prayer in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Fountain near Caravaggio," a town in the hard-hit province of Bergamo.

"The choice of the date and the place is extremely symbolic," the bishops' statement said.

"May is, in fact, the month traditionally dedicated to Mary, a time marked by praying the rosary, pilgrimages to shrines and by the need to turn to Mary with special prayers of intercession," it said. "Beginning this month with an act of consecration to Mary in the current situation acquires a very special meaning for all of Italy."

The place, Caravaggio, the statement added, symbolizes "the suffering and pain experienced in a land harshly tried by the health emergency."

During the May 1 prayer service, the bishops will entrust to Mary the sick, doctors and other healthcare workers, families and the deceased.

Since May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the bishops will include special prayers for all workers, "aware of the worry and fear" many of them are experiencing.

Editor’s note: Following is the Memorare to St. Joseph:

“Remember O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession was left unaided. Full of confidence in your power I fly unto you and beg your protection. Despise not O Guardian of the Redeemer my humble supplication, but in your bounty hear and answer me.”