There are 900 churches in Rome (according to several websites). We have seen only a small fraction of them (about 12%). Of the ones we have seen, 24% are Marian (named after the Blessed Virgin Mary). Catholics have a special devotion to Mary, the mother of God. From the dawn of humanity, God prepared Mary. He sent the Angel Gabriel to her to ask her to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). This messenger from God told her that she was “highly favored”. Lucky for us, she said, “Yes”.
Today, December 8, 2012 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Immaculate Conception refers to the condition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. Today is a national holiday in Italy. We attended a service in Piazza di Spagna in which Pope Benedict XVI placed a wreath on the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a column overlooking the square. We didn’t actually see the event. There was standing room only and everyone pushing to get near the square to get a view from all streets leading to Piazza di Spagna (we tried several). After the crowd started to thin, we were able to get the photo of Mary with the fresh wreath of flowers.