Thursday, May 19, 2011
Marian Mosaic in Vatican Square
“After the assassination attempt on May 13, 1981, Vatican officials were evaluating the possibility of placing a plaque, or some visible sign, in St. Peter’s Square in the area where the Pope had been shot, in remembrance of a painful page in the history of the Church but also as testimony of divine protection,” Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re wrote in the May 18 edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Cardinal Re was a senior figure in the Congregation for Bishops and the Vatican Secretariat of State during the pontificate of Pope John Paul.
“John Paul II, convinced that the Virgin Mary had protected him on that day, immediately expressed the desire that an image of the Madonna be placed in the square.” Cardinal Re added that Pope John Paul had also become aware that there was something “missing” from the St. Peter’s Square up until that time – an image of Our Lady.
So in the summer of 1981, then-Bishop Re was asked to join a small group charged with devising solutions. Their deliberations didn’t take long.
“Two hours later, we were standing in St. Peter’s Square and Monsignor Fallani (who was in charge of conservation in the Vatican) pointed to a window of the Apostolic Palace where the mosaic is now placed and said, ‘For me, a solution which works well for the setting of this square is a mosaic placed in the travertine frame of that window up there.’ He then asked what was behind that particular window.”
“On December 8th, 1981, John Paul II, before the recitation of the Angelus, blessed the Marian image, a sign of heavenly protection on the Pontiff, on the Church and on all who come to St. Peter’s Square.”