While standing in front of a Marian painting, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church issued a prayer to Mary last week, who he referred to as the “Health of the Sick,” to ask that she deliver the world from COVID-19 through her intercession. On Sunday, he visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major to stand before an icon of “Mary, Protection of the Roman People,” as well as the Church of San Marcello al Corso, where he prayed before a crucifix that was carried through the streets during the Black Plague of 1522.
The prayer of Jorge Bergoglio, also known as Pope Francis, was posted online by Vatican News with an English translation of his remarks.
“O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,” he said.
“You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need. We are certain that you will provide, so that, as you did at Cana of Galilee, joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial,” Bergoglio stated, referring to Mary’s request of Jesus after the wedding ran out of wine.
While acknowledging Jesus and the sufferings He bore, the prayer was directed solely toward Mary for protection and asking that she would help mankind conform to God’s will.
“We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God,” he said. “Do not despise our pleas — we who are put to the test — and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.”
According to reports, Begoglio also walked to the Basilica of St. Mary Major on Sunday to appear before the Salus Populi Romani, “Mary, Protection of the Roman People,” asking that she intercede for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then-leader Gregory I had the image carried throughout Rome in 593 to pray for the end of the Black Plague, and Gregory XVI prayed before it in 1837 in seeking the end of the cholera outbreak.
“Mary is a mother, and a mother worries above all about the health of her children. She knows how to care for them always with great and tender love. Our Lady guards our health,” Bergoglio said, according to Catholic Philly.
Bergoglio then went to the Church of San Marcello al Corso to pray before a crucifix that some consider to be “miraculous” as it remained unharmed amid a church fire in 1519. The crucifix was marched for 16 days through the streets of Rome during the plague of 1522.
According to Angelus and the Catholic News Agency, Bergoglio also stopped to pray before a statue of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.
Italy has been especially hard hit by COVID-19, with over 35,000 confirmed cases as of press time and nearly 3,000 deaths. More than 8,000 cases have been confirmed in the United States as of press time, with 124 deaths. Current figures may be viewed here.
IS IT BIBLICAL?
1 Timothy 2:5 says that there is only “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus taught in John 14:13-14, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 16:23 likewise instructs, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give [it] you.”
Roman Catholics believe that since Jesus heeded Mary when she asked for His help at the wedding in Cana, her requests have sway with Him even still today.
“He performs His first miracle at her behest, even though He tells her it ‘is not my time.’ This is remarkable, because Jesus still does what His mother asks, even though it wasn’t time to reveal His divine powers. This shows us the powerful intercession she has with Jesus,” St. Mary’s Aggie Catholic blog claims.
Scripture also prohibits communication with the dead, which is known as necromancy (Deuteronomy 18:11; Isaiah 8:19).
Roman Catholics believe that Mary did not die, but ascended to Heaven like Jesus. This belief was made official Catholic doctrine by Pius XII, who wrote in 1950, “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate mother of God, the ever virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” The Feast of the Assumption, which recognizes this belief, is observed each August.
The American Catholic admits, however, “Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s assumption into Heaven.”
Evangelicals believe Catholics unbiblically ascribe attributes to Mary that belong to the Godhead alone, such as her all-seeing eye (omniscience), her ability to hear prayers from around the world (omnipresence), and her power to care for and protect those who entrust their very lives to her, even by intercession (omnipotence).