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Pope Francis nominates Sydney for May Rosary pandemic ‘marathon’

Francis has called the world's Catholics to harness the power of the Rosary against the COVID pandemic ...

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A statue of Our Lady Help of Christians stands inside St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. The Cathedral has been chosen by Pope Francis to be one of 30 Marian shrines around the world to co-host the global Rosary marathon called by the Pope to end the COVID pandemic.

The Rosary at St Mary’s Cathedral will be live streamed on the St Mary’s Cathedral YouTube channel on 16 May at 6pm AEST.

Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral has been named by Pope Francis as one of 30 Marian Shrines around the world to participate in a Rosary Marathon to help end the Coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout May, the shrines are encouraged to seek the participation of the local population to devote a moment to a different prayer intention related to COVID-19. Sydneysiders have been encouraged to come together in prayer at St Mary’s Cathedral on 16 May at 6pm AEST.

The Rosary at St Mary’s Cathedral will be live streamed on the St Mary’s Cathedral YouTube channel on 16 May at 6pm AEST.

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After more than a year, and with the world still in the grips of the pandemic, the Pope and the Church around the world are once again leading the way in imploring God for an end to the suffering.

A patient wearing an oxygen mask lies inside a vehicle while waiting to enter a COVID-19 hospital for treatment in Ahmedabad, India, on 26 April. Photo: CNS, Amit Dave, Reuters

Francis wants “vehicles of prayer”

It is the deep desire of the Holy Father that the month of May be dedicated to a prayer marathon conducted by Catholics across the globe to become “vehicles of the prayer of the entire Church,” said the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation in a press release on 21 April.

Starting on Saturday 1 May and broadcast live from the Gregorian Chapel of St Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father will lead the Rosary which will be available at 6pm Rome time (2am AEST) on all Vatican media platforms.

He will also bless Rosaries to be sent to the 30 Marian Shrines participating in the daily live-streamed prayers.

A religious sister holds a rosary during an Ash Wednesday service outside a church in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on 17 February 2021. Pope Francis has called for a global prayer marathon during the Marian month of May to petition God for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: CNS, Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters

Sydney the host on 16 May

Together with the Holy Rosary, every day of the month is characterised by a prayer intention for people most affected by the plight of the pandemic including the deceased, those infected with the virus, those who have not been able to say goodbye to their loved ones, the homeless, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and health care personnel.

Sydneysiders have been asked to come together on 16 May and pray for all victims of violence and human trafficking.

Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce Chair John McCarthy QC told The Catholic Weekly he was honoured by the pope’s decision to select St Mary’s Cathedral as a shrine.

“Our Archbishop has been in the frontline of the fight to end modern slavery and established an Anti-Slavery Taskforce to work with him. The Sydney Taskforce has firmly responded to Pope Francis’ modern slavery call to action, especially in regards to the supply chains and operations of the Catholic Church,” he said.

“Our Anti-Slavery Taskforce coordinates a national network of 38 major Australian Catholic entities working to ensure that the goods and services procured by the Church do not involve human trafficking or the risk of its presence. Pope Francis has declared human trafficking to be a scourge upon the body of Christ to which we must never be indifferent. Archbishop Fisher invites all Sydney Catholics to unite in prayer for victims of violence and exploitation.

“Through the intercession of, St Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of victims of modern slavery let us pray for them to be free and for that freedom to come in our generation.”

Patients suffering from COVID-19 receive oxygen at a hospital in New Delhi on 15 April. Photo: CNS, Danish Siddiqui, Reuters

Global Marian shrine network

Among shrines taking part is India’s Our Lady of Health Basilica, Vailankanni, with the country currently engulfed by its second wave of COVID-19, and now setting heartbreaking global records for daily new infections.

Other Shrines taking part include Our Lady of Walsingham in England, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in the United States, Our Lady of Częstochowa in Poland, the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in South Korea, Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in the Philippines, Our Lady of Knock in Ireland, the Virgin of the Poor at Banneux in Belgium, Notre Dame d’Afrique in Algeria and Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima in Portugal.

“The initiative will involve in a special way all shrines in the world” in promoting the initiative so that individuals, families and communities all take part in reciting the rosary, “to pray for the end of the pandemic,” the Pontifical Council statement said.

“It is the heartfelt desire of the Holy Father that the month of May be dedicated … to the theme, ‘from the entire church an unceasing prayer rises to God,'” it said.

Biblical precedent

The theme refers to the miraculous event recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (12:1-12) when all the church prayed for Peter, who was imprisoned until God sent an angel to free him, illustrating how the Christian community comes together to pray in the face of danger and how the Lord listens and performs an unexpected miracle.

Each day in May, there will be a livestream from one of 30 chosen Marian shrines or sanctuaries to guide the prayer at 6 pm Rome time on all Vatican media platforms.

On 18 May at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, prayers will be for all doctors and nurses. The 23 May prayer intention at the Quebec shrine, Notre Dame du Cap, is for law enforcement, military personnel and firefighters.

Official list of intentions

The Pope will close the initiative on 31 May with another specially-broadcast Rosary.

The English-language list of shrines and prayer intentions can be found at

Also contributing to this story was Carol Glatz of CNS


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