Ave Maria! Here is an article about the Basilica that we staff. A restoration process on the “Salus populi Romani” in St. Mary Major has just been finished. The image has been revered as miraculous since at least the 15th century, and Pope Pius V had the image carried through Rome in prayer for victory before the Battle of Lepanto. The image depicts the Virgin Mary in a blue robe, carrying the child Jesus who is holding a jeweled, golden book. This ancient icon has now been restored and last Sunday was revealed to the public.
The head of the Vatican Museums, Barbara Jatta, said the restoration uncovered the “delicate” colors of the faces of Mary and Jesus, and the brilliance of the child’s golden robe and the blue of Mary’s tunic.
The restoration also will help scholars date the painting, whose origins are disputed. Tradition has it dating from Jerusalem in the 5th century and purportedly painted by St. Luke himself. In an article in Thursday’s Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Jatta said the true date is more likely between the 11th and the 13th century.
Pope Francis’ favorite icon of the Madonna in Rome has gotten a face-lift. In addition to cleaning the image and repairing issues dating from previous restorations, restorers made a new showcase for the icon — lighter and with handles — to allow for easier and safer transport for the various religious celebrations where it’s displayed.