Pope Francis Encourages Marian Shrines Around the World to Pray for Synod on Synodality

Pope Francis delivers the Regina Caeli address from the window of the Apostolic Palace on May 28, 2023. | Vatican Media

From the Philippines to Portugal, Marian shrines around the world will participate in a special day of prayer this Wednesday for the work of the Synod on Synodality.

In his Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis announced that the day of prayer for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place on May 31, the last day of the month dedicated to Mary.

“Let us ask the Virgin Mary to accompany this important stage of the synod with her maternal protection,” the pope said.

The shrines of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland, the Knock Shrine in Ireland, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Costa Rica, Our Lady of Fourvière in France, and many other Marian shrines have confirmed their participation.

In the Philippines, 26 Marian shrines and minor basilicas will simultaneously hold prayers for the synod.


Nicaragua has announced that all parishes will take part in a full day of prayer for the synod. All dioceses in India, Malaysia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina will participate in the day of prayer.

The crowd in St. Peter's Square waves to Pope Francis on Pentecost Sunday May 28, 2023. Vatican Media

Pope Francis also spoke about the upcoming Synod of Bishops at Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica earlier in the day. He said: “Let us place the Holy Spirit at the beginning and at the heart of the work of the synod.”

“We walk together, because the Spirit, as at Pentecost, loves to descend while ‘everyone is together,’” he added. “The people of God, to be filled with the Spirit, must therefore walk together, hold a synod.”

After the Mass for the solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Francis appeared in the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to deliver the Regina Caeli address to the crowd gathered in a sunny St. Peter’s Square.

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Pope Francis appeared in the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to deliver the Regina Caeli address on May 28, 2023. Daniel Ibanez

The pope prayed for people in Myanmar and Bangladesh affected by Cyclone Mocha. He also marked the 150th anniversary of the death of Italian novelist Alessandro Manzoni, the author of one of the pope’s favorite books, “The Betrothed.”

Pope Francis reflected on how the Holy Spirit has the power to free people from “the prisons of fear.”

He said that only once the apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they dared to leave the upper room and go into the world to forgive sins and announce the good news of the Gospel.

“Thanks to [the Holy Spirit], fears are overcome and doors open. Because this is what the Spirit does: he makes us feel God’s closeness and so his love drives away fear, illuminates the path, consoles, supports in adversity,” the pope said.


“In the face of fears and closures, then, let us invoke the Holy Spirit for us, for the Church, and for the whole world: Because a new Pentecost can drive away the fears that assail us and rekindle the fire of God’s love.”

“Holy Mary, who was the first to be filled with the Holy Spirit, intercede for us,” Pope Francis said.

Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.