MANILA - Pope Francis will kick off a worldwide month-long prayer for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican has announced.
The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization said that it was the deep desire of the pontiff that the month of May "be dedicated to a prayer marathon with the theme 'Prayer to God went up incessantly from the whole Church.'"
According to the Vatican Media, the pope will open the Marian month of prayer on May 1 with the praying of the rosary which will be broadcast across all Vatican's platforms.
The initiative involves at least 30 Marian shrines across the world. Each day for the entire month, Vatican will broadcast the recitation of the rosary at 6 p.m., Rome time, from various shrines included in the prayer activity.
Pope Francis will close the month-long prayer with another specially-broadcast recitation of the rosary on May 31st.
Catholics across the world are encouraged to join the marathon prayer.
Last year, also during the month of May, Pope Francis led the praying of the rosary at the Vatican Gardens, with the same intention of ending the pandemic and healing for those who contracted the virus.
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the leader of over a billion Catholics has led many prayer initiatives despite various restrictions imposed at the Eternal City and Italy to curb the spread of the virus.
In a previous address to the UN General Assembly, Francis, who has focused on the plight of vulnerable groups since becoming pope in 2013, warned rich nations against vaccine hoarding.
Pope Francis continued to celebrate scaled down Masses and other liturgies at the Vatican, including a special Urbi et Orbi (to the city [of Rome] and to the world) last year, which saw the dramatic scene of the pontiff bestowing his apostolic blessing while facing an empty St. Peter's Square.
In the Philippines, the month of May has been traditionally dedicated in honor of Mary, when Filipino Catholics offer flowers and prayers to her various shrines and venerated images.
Perhaps the most popular is the practice of "Flores De Mayo," honoring Jesus's mother in her title as "Virgen de las Flores."
The Philippines is one of the most badly-affected in Southeast Asia during the pandemic, having nearly 1 million recorded coronavirus infections and over 100,000 active cases to date.