Rome, Italy, Mar 11, 2020 / 03:21 pm (CNA).- As the Diocese of Rome holds a day of prayer and fasting for victims of coronavirus, Pope Francis sent a message asking for the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoking her under her title of Salus Populi Romani.

“Under Your protection we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not despise the entreaties of us who are in trial, and free us from every danger, glorious and blessed Virgin,” Francis prayed March 11 via video.

“You, Protectress of the Roman People, you know what we need and we are sure that you will provide so that, as in Cana of Galilee, joy and celebration may return after this trying moment,” he said.

The pope’s prayer video was sent as part of the Diocese of Rome’s call to spend March 11 in prayer and fasting for those who are sick with or have died from coronavirus.

The vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, said Mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love, on the outskirts of Rome, as part of the day’s special prayers.

The diocese is also collecting monetary donations to provide support to healthcare workers as they sacrifice to care for the sick.

A communication from the vicariate of Rome said the day is “a moment of grace, when united in spiritual communion, we will feel like brothers and sisters in faith, in solidarity, and not suspicious of each other.”

“We will pray not only for our city, but for Italy and for the whole world,” it said.

In Italy, as of March 11, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached over 10,500. At least 827 people have died from the virus in the country. Rome has 99 active cases.

The Italian government put the country on a nationwide lockdown through April 3 to help contain the spread of the virus.

The quarantine prevents movement within the country and limits other travel. People are required to stay at home except to go to work, the supermarket, or the pharmacy.

“Oh Mary, you always shine on our way as a sign of salvation and hope,” Pope Francis prayed. “We rely on you, Health of the Sick, that at the cross you were associated with the pain of Jesus, keeping your faith firm.”

“Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do what Jesus will tell us, which took our suffering upon itself and took on our pains to lead us, through the cross, to the joy of the resurrection.”

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