From (Vatican Radio):
Pope Francis is an early riser and surprised the Romans on the very first morning of his pontificate by visiting, at 8.15 am one of Rome's Major Basilicas, Saint Mary Major. The Pope came bearing a floral homage.
Upon his election on Wednesday evening Pope Francis had anticipated he was going to “go and pray to the Madonna so that she might protect Rome”.
And so it was that the newly elected Pope went to venerate Mary in this most ancient of Christian Basilicas in the West dedicated to her. Going directly to the Pauline Chapel to the left of the main nave to pray in front of the icon of the Madonna 'Salus Populi Romani':
" A very old legend recounts that Saint Luke the Evangelist was a painter, and that among the images he painted was a portrait of the Virgin Mary. Many artists have portrayed the Saint intent on painting the sweet face of the Mother of God. The legend very likely arose from the fact that
Luke, among the evangelists, is the one who narrates most fully the birth of Jesus and in this context speaks at length about the Mother of the Saviour, to the point that he is traditionally indicated simply as Mary's biographer."...
On this occasion Pope Francis also went to pray by the main altar where a relic of the manger is housed and subsequently the SistineChapel across from the Pauline Chapel within the Basilica. A place especially significant to Jesuits as it's where Saint Ignatius of Loyola once celebrated holy mass on Christmas eve following his ordination to the priesthood, While there he also prayed at the tomb of Saint Pius V.
A programme produced by Veronica Scarisbrick .