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Pope keeps up Immaculate Conception Feast Spanish Steps tradition

Waving from his white popemobile, Pope John Paul II blessed shoppers and tourists at the foot of Rome's Spanish Steps yesterday as he began his Christmas schedule with a traditional visit to the popular piazza.

Associated Press reports that he rode in an open-sided vehicle down narrow Via Condotti, a street lined with some of Rome's swankiest shops. John Paul, dressed in a white robe and a red embroidered stole, sat in an upholstered chair on a wheeled platform, and in a hoarse voice read a prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary.

8 December is the church feast and Italian national holiday of the Immaculate Conception, which celebrates the dogma that the mother of Jesus was conceived without original sin. In the morning, he presided at a two-hour Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to mark the 150th anniversary of the declaration of the dogma.

The pope prayed that Mary would "help us to build a world where the life of man is always loved and defended, every form of violence is banned, peace is tenaciously sought by all."

Thousands of Romans and visitors took a break from gift-buying on the first official day of the city's Christmas shopping season to catch a glimpse of the pope in the square with its towering column topped by a statue of Mary.

They cheered as the Holy Father arrived during an afternoon break in the rain that had drenched Rome earlier. Mayor Walter Veltroni watched as he blessed a basket brimming with pink roses that were then placed at the foot of the column.

Pope keeps up tradition of Spanish Steps (Associated Press/Seattle Post-Intelligencer 8/12/04)

Church celebrating today's 150th anniversary of Marian dogma (CathNews 8/12/04)
Pope tells Catholics to follow Church teaching in public life (CathNews 7/12/04)
Pope celebrates Feast of Immaculate Conception (CathNews 9/12/03)

Pope visits Spanish Steps (The Advertiser/AFP 9/12/04)
Pope prays to the Immaculate Virgin for peace and the sacredness of life ( 8/12/04)
Pope Prays for Iraqi People after Bomb Attacks on Churches (The Scotsman 8/12/04)
Pope commends Iraq and the world to the Immaculate's protection ( 8/12/04)
Scientists Bestow Award on John Paul II (Zenit 7/12/04)
Pope Urges Church-State Cooperation in Peru to Battle Poverty (Zenit 7/12/04)
Archbishop Dolan on John Paul II's Example (Part 2) (Zenit 7/12/04)

9 Dec 2004