ROME – On Saturday, the day of the week traditionally devoted to the Virgin Mary, Pope Francis published two new Marian prayers, which he encouraged faithful to pray along with the rosary during the month of May for an end to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary,” the pope said.

Noting that it is common for families to pray the rosary together during the month of May, he said restrictions in place in many parts of the world due to COVID-19 “have made us come to appreciate all the more this family aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.”

“For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May,” he said, explaining that it can be done either as a group or individually based on people’s circumstances, but “making the most of both opportunities.”

Noting that there are a plethora of guided prayers available online, Pope Francis invited faithful to join him in praying two specific prayers to Mary that he himself will be praying throughout the month, “in spiritual union with all of you.”

“Contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial,” he said, adding that he is praying for all Catholics, above all those who are experiencing the greatest suffering.

In the first prayer he sent, Francis called Mary a sign of “salvation and hope” amid suffering and, using her title, “Health of the Sick,” asked that she help all people to accept God’s will and to do whatever he asks.

The second prayer, longer, he sent asked Mary to be a source of protection “in the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety.”

“Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic,” he said, and asked Mary to comfort those who are afraid or mourning, and those who have died, “at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply.”

He also prayed for the families of the deceased, particularly those suffering because they could not be near their loved ones in death, and for those who are experiencing fear because of the economic consequences of the pandemic, including rising unemployment rates.

All those “on the frontline” of the pandemic, including doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and volunteers, were also included in the prayer, as were the sick and dying, and the priests who assist them.

Francis also prayed for those engaged in scientific research to find an effective cure for COVID-19, and for political leaders, “that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.”

He prayed that the money and energy devoted to stockpiling weapons would instead be put toward research aimed at preventing future pandemics and asked that Mary intercede for an increase of solidarity, faith and service in humanity.

The prayer closes asking Mary, “Consolation of the afflicted” to embrace “all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.”

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