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FATIMA PERSPECTIVES
FROM THE PAPAL CONCLAVE

Article No. 4

Pope Francis: The Marian Dimension

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 14, 2013

“Tomorrow I'm going to go pray to the Virgin Mary. Good night, thank you and have a good rest.”

With those words, Pope Francis, the first Pope so named, and the first Jesuit Pope, ended his appearance on the loggia of Saint Peter's Basilica last night. True to his word, early the following morning the new Pope visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the world's oldest church (c. 431 A.D.) dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. There he prayed and left a bouquet of flowers before the famous icon of Mary under the title Salus Populi Romani, which, loosely translated, means Protectress of the Roman People.

According to the Roman Pontifical (the book of rituals performed by bishops), the icon, which was crowned by Pope Pius XII in 1954, dates all the way back to the founding of the basilica by Pope Liberius (352-366). A tradition states that it was brought to Rome by Saint Helena after having been painted by Saint Luke himself.

That the new Pope's first devotional act was to visit the world's oldest Marian church in order to venerate a Marian icon of such august provenance evidences a Marian piety of the most traditional sort.

In these early stages of the new pontificate, we cannot overlook the Marian dimension of the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires. And it is the Marian dimension of the Roman Pontiff that will be decisive for what must be done to bring the current ecclesial crisis to an end while averting the ultimate calamity depicted in the vision of the “Bishop dressed in White.”

The Consecration of Russia, and only that, will end the crisis in the Church and the related crisis in a world that has turned its back on Christ. For that act of obedience and tribute by the Pope and the bishops, recognizing Mary's role as Mediatrix of All Graces, is Heaven's prescribed remedy for the lack of peace — not merely political and social, but moral and spiritual — that has plagued the world since the dawn of the 20th century and is now reaching its final extremity in the outright neo-barbarism of Western man.

We must remember that Benedict XVI ended his pontificate by recognizing that the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary has yet to be seen. It will take a truly Marian Pope to secure that Triumph by doing at last what Mary Mediatrix requested of her Church at Fatima.