ROME – Pope Francis has given the Virgin Mary three new titles, the Vatican announced Saturday, which will be added to the Catholic Church’s traditional “Litany of Mary,” including one that reflects a signature preoccupation of this pope.
The new titles are “Mother of Mercy,” “Mother of Hope,” and “Comfort of Migrants.”
In letter dated June 20, Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, announced the titles would be added to the Litany of Mary, called the “Litany of Loreto,” which is usually recited during the rosary or on major Catholic feasts.
Addressed to the presidents of all bishops’ conferences worldwide, the letter said the move comes at the express wish of Pope Francis.
The first new title is to be placed after “Mother of the Church,” the second after “Mother of Divine Grace,” while the third will go after Mary’s designation as “Refuge of Sinners.”
In the letter, Sarah said “the Church which walks along the pathways of history as a pilgrim towards the heavenly Jerusalem and enjoys inseparable communion with Christ her Spouse and Savior, entrusts herself to her who believed in the word of the Lord.”
“We know from the Gospel that the disciples of Jesus had in fact learned from the very beginning to praise her as ‘blessed amongst women’ and to count on her maternal intercession,” he said, insisting that the numerous titles given to Mary throughout history are a “privileged and sure way to an encounter with Christ.”
Pope Francis has often emphasized the topic of mercy in the Church, most prominently through his 2015-2016 Jubilee of Mercy, and his own episcopal motto, Miserando atque eligendo, or, “choosing with mercy.”
He has also been a champion of migrants and refugees since his election in 2013, making frequent appeals on their behalf in his public audiences, and in his meetings with diplomats and heads of state. His first trip outside of Rome as pope was to the visit the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013, where he met migrants detained at a large camp who had fled poverty and war in the Middle East and Africa.
In September 2019, he added a sculpture depicting a boat full of migrants to St. Peter’s Square. Marking the first new sculpture installed in square in over 400 years, it’s called, “Angels Unaware,” and depicts 140 migrants and refugees from different cultures and periods of history, including indigenous people, Jews escaping Nazi Germany, and Syrian and African refugees fleeing war and famine in modern times.