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Pope Francis Cancels Traditional Public Act of Veneration on Feast of Immaculate Conception Due to Pandemic…

Under the new restrictions, unvaccinated people in Italy will be unable to dine indoors at restaurants, go to the gym, visit museums and other tourist sites, or attend weddings or other public ceremonies until at least Jan. 15.

Last year, Pope Francis made a surprise visit to pray alone at the Immaculate Conception statue in the Piazza di Spagna at 7 a.m. on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary after the traditional public gathering was canceled.

The pope laid a bouquet of white roses at the base of the nearly 40-foot high column which holds the statue of the Immaculate Conception near the Spanish Steps.

Statue of the Immaculate Conception in Rome's Piazza di Spagna Dec. 8, 2019. . Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
Statue of the Immaculate Conception in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna Dec. 8, 2019. . Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

The statue was dedicated on Dec. 8, 1857, three years after Pope Pius IX promulgated a decree defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Since 1953, it has been a custom for popes to venerate the statue on the feast day. Pius XII was the first to do so, walking nearly two miles from the Vatican.

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