Pope Francis on December 8, 2019, visited Piazza di Spagna in Rome to perform what he called “the traditional act of homage at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate Conception”, reported Vatican News. He asked all those present to join him spiritually in this gesture, which, he said, “expresses our filial devotion to our heavenly Mother”.

The statue of Our Lady stands above a 12-meter high ancient Roman column. It was placed here on September 8th, 1857 and commemorates Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, stating that Mary is the only human being who was born without original sin.

The column and statue were originally erected with the help of 220 firemen, which is why the floral tributes always include a garland of flowers placed in Our Lady’s arms by a member of Rome’s fire department. The tradition of offering flowers to her image here on this feast day was begun by Pope Pius XII.

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