The centuries-old tradition of the Novena of the Immaculate Conception at Rome’s Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles continued uninterrupted—despite the pandemic.

The cardinals responded positively to the invitation from the Order’s Procuration Office. They presided and preached at the evening Novena Masses in the following order: November 29, 2020: João Cardinal Bráz DE AVIZ, Prefect for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Society of Apostolic Life; November 30: Leonardo Cardinal SANDRI, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; December 2: Luis Francisco Cardinal LADARIA FERRER, S.J., Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; December 3: Mauro Cardinal GAMBETTI, OFM Conv.; December 4: Beniamino Cardinal STELLA, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy; December 5: Pietro Cardinal PAROLIN, Vatican Secretary of State; December 6:. Mauro Cardinal PIACENZA, Major Penitentiary; December 7: Gianfranco Cardinal RAVASI, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Cardinals Antonio TAGLE and Gianbattista RE had to cancel their appointment due to contingencies related to the pandemic. They were replaced by our Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI and by the Most Reverend José Rodríguez CARBALLO, OFM, Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.
At the beginning of the celebration, the prelates were welcomed with a speech by the Pastor, Friar Agnello STOIA, who pledged that the tradition of the novena would continue unchanged in this pandemic year.
The musical liturgy was animated by the Basilica Choir directed by Maestro Friar Gennaro BECCHIMANZI. The choir performed the Tota Pulcra by Friar Alessandro BORRONI every evening.
A number of friars and seminarians performed liturgical services at the altar, led by the Master of Ceremonies, Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO.
Priests, men and women religious, and the lay faithful took part in the celebrations, in varying numbers according to the evening, but always in compliance with the anti-contagion rules.
Two evenings were particularly well-attended. One was the celebration with the Eastern Churches, which yearly brings together the clergy and seminarians of different Rites. The other was the first Pontifical Mass presided over by our confrere Mauro Cardinal GAMBETTI.
On the eve of the solemnity, December 8, Archbishop CARBALLO lent a Franciscan and familiar character to the liturgy and his homily. The evening was highlighted by the act of entrusting the Order to the Immaculate Conception, as declared by Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, before the solemn singing of the Tota Pulcra.
We give thanks to the Virgin Mary and to all those who worked so hard to ensure that the Patroness of the Order was invoked and celebrated again this year.

Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO