Pope Francis has urged the public of Rome and all over the world to take their devotion to the Immaculate Conception privately, according to the Holy See Press Office.
In fact, the Pope has entrusted this year’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the inhabitants of Rome to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Read: Here’s what you should know about the Immaculate Conception)
In a statement, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office, said that the Pope’s decision not to go to the Piazza di Spagna is due to the ongoing health emergency, “and is intended to avoid all risk of contagion caused by gatherings.”
It is customary for the reigning pontiff to go to Rome’s Piazza di Spagna every year on December 8 for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
According to Catholic traditions, the feast remembers the “singular grace and privilege” by which “the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception… in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved from all stain of original sin.” (Read: How Does the World Celebrate the Feast of Mama Mary’s Nativity?)
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was believed by the Church from the very beginning, but was only formally defined in 1854 by Blessed Pope Pius IX. In 1857, a commemorative column was raised Piazza Mignanelli, close to the Spanish steps in Rome. The tradition of the Pope visiting the square on the feast dates back to 1953.