A trip to the Eternal City would be incomplete without a pilgrimage to St. Mary Major and a time of prayer before the icon known as the Salus Populi Romani. This beloved icon has a rich history (see linked wikipedia entry). It has been carried in procession by several popes when the city of Rome and the Church were in distress. The Roman people stop in to visit “her” and leave their concerns and prayers in her heart. As Roman Catholics, we are citizens of Rome and as such live each day under the eyes of Our Lady, and this “loving gaze” is beautifully represented in this icon. Our Lady is the “Protectress or more literally health, or salvation of the Roman people” (link, below) for through her Christ was brought into the world, and through her (as St. Louis de Montfort notes) he will again reign in the world.