At the end of his catechesis on Wednesday, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims from the Roman church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, who came with an original image of the Miraculous Virgin, or “Our Lady of Miracles,” which is being displayed in Saint Peter’s Basilica until January 1st 2017.
The display marks the conversion 175 years ago of Alphonsus Ratisbonne in 1842, after Mary appeared to him in a side altar of that church.
Ratisbonne (1812-1884) was a Jewish banker who had contempt for the Catholic Church and the clergy. He resented the fact that his brother Theodore had converted and been ordained a priest. Alphonsus’ own conversion had a great impact at the time, influenced as he was by rationalism, and the rejection of spiritual realities. He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1847.
Vespers will be prayed on Friday afternoon, December 30, and a Te Deum on Saturday, December 31, presided over by Pope Francis before Mary’s picture, which will be enthroned in the Altar of the Confession. On Sunday, January 1, the image will be present at the New Year’s Mass celebrated by the Holy Father. Later the picture will be returned to the church where it is regularly displayed.