The Pope prays before the Marian icon of Salus Populi Romani in Santa Maria Maggiore before his trip to Canada

Ahead of his week-long trip to Canada, Pope Francis visited a basilica in Rome on Friday to seek the protection and intercession of the Virgin Mary.

On the morning of July 22, the pope prayed before the Marian icon of Salus Populi Romani in Santa Maria Maggiore.

The pope was pictured in a wheelchair next to the revered statue of Mary, Protection of the Roman People, which has long been a staple of the Eternal City, in a photo released by the Vatican.

According to the Holy See’s press office, the pope visited the basilica to ask the Virgin Mary for advice on his impending trip to Canada.

From July 24 to 29, the pope is to visit Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit in Canada.

There he will meet with Catholics, survivors of residential school abuse and representatives of Canada’s Aboriginal groups.

In Canada, Pope Francis should apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church for the mistreatment of Indigenous students in Catholic boarding schools.

In late March and early April, the pope met with representatives of Métis, Inuit and First Nations peoples at the Vatican and expressed regret for the harm they had endured.

According to him, his visit to Canada will be a “penitential pilgrimage” to promote healing and harmony.

On July 28, Pope Francis will also visit the Basilica-Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Québec. The first parish church in Canada is the Minor Basilica, established and consecrated to the Virgin Mary in 1647.

Prior to his travels around the world, Pope Francis made it a tradition to visit the icon and ask for protection from the Virgin Mary. He frequently visits the icon after leaving the Vatican and before returning to Rome.

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