As those gathered sang the Ave Maria of Fatima, the pope prayed silently beneath the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was illuminated inside the grotto, before departing.
The rosary event was promoted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, with the theme “Devoted with one accord to prayer, together with Mary,” inspired by the Acts of the Apostles 1:14.
The Pontifical Council has been responsible for Catholic shrines since 2017.
In an interview with EWTN Vatican ahead of the event, Archbishop Rino Fisichella said: “I think we have discovered two main things during this special moment. First of all the importance of the media for the new evangelization and the importance of media for the prayer.”
Shrines joining the pope from the Americas included the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal in Canada, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá in Colombia, Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil and Our Lady of Luján in Argentina.
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The majority of shrines were located in Italy, including Loreto, Pompei, and Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Padre Pio. Other participating shrines in Europe included: Lourdes, France; Fatima, Portugal; Częstochowa, Poland; and Walsingham, England.
The pope was joined from Israel by the Basilica of the Annunciation, and from Africa by the shrines of Elele in Nigeria and Notre-Dame de la Paix in Ivory Coast.
The rosary was recited in the Vatican Gardens by men and women affected by the coronavirus crisis. They included a doctor, a nurse, a hospital chaplain, and a woman who had lost her mother to COVID-19.
In a May 30 interview with the Italian version of Vatican News, Archbishop Fisichella noted that a baby born during the pandemic would also be present at the event with his family.
He said: “Last but not least, I like to remember that there will also be Jacopo, a child just one month old, whom we have chosen with his parents, because he was born during this dramatic period.
“Jacopo is the one who gives hope, he is the one who makes us understand that life continues and will always go on, because man is made for life, he is made to live.”
There have been more than 5.9 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide as of May 30, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.