“Jesus is present in each person forced to flee to safety”, Pope Francis recalled this Saturday, World Refugee Day.

In their faces “we are called to see Christ’s face who pleads with us to help”

In the faces of refugees, migrants and other displaced people, “we are called to see Christ’s face who pleads with us to help. In the end, we will be the ones to thank Him for being able to love and serve”, the pontiff wrote on Twitter.

A new invocation in the Litany of Loreto: “Comfort of Migrants”

The pontiff’s message on the social network was paired with another special gesture he had today with exiles around the world, with the other being the news of his approval of a new title for the Virgin Mary, that of “Comfort of Migrants”.

The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments announced Saturday – also the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – that along with Solacium migrantium, two other new invocations to the Virgin are to be added to the Litany of Loreto, often recited at the end of the Rosary: those of Mater misericordiae, the Latin for “Mother of Mercy”, and Mater spei, or “Mother of Hope”.

The Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation – Cardinal Robert Sarah and Archbishop Arthur Roche respectively – recalled in a letter to the presidents of episcopal conferences around the world that “the titles and invocations which Christian piety has reserved for the Virgin Mary over the course of the centuries, as the privileged and sure way to an encounter with Christ, are innumerable”.

“Even in this present moment which is marked by feelings of uncertainty and trepidation, devout recourse to her, which is full of affection and trust, is deeply felt by the People of God”, the prelates added.

For that reason, after “discerning this sentiment and welcoming the desires expressed”, the Pope had approved the additions to the formulary of the Litany, Sarah and Roche said, explaining that “Mother of Mercy” is to be inserted after “Mother of the Church”, “Mother of Hope” after “Mother of Divine Grace” and “Solace of Migrants” after “Refuge of Sinners”.

In an interview with Vatican News, Roche explained that these new invocations “respond to the realities of the time that we are living”. 

The archbishop recalled that many people across the world who are afflicted in many ways – not only by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also forced from their homes because of poverty, conflict and other reasons – are invoking Our Lady out of a “real need” for her assistance.

What is the Litany of Loreto?

The Litany of Loreto takes its name from the Marian shrine of Loreto in Italy, where it is believed to have been used as far back as 1531.

It was officially approved in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V, who suppressed all other Marian litanies used publicly.

The Litany of Loreto is the only approved Marian litany. However, many more Marian litanies were and are in use, but are designated for private devotion, as is evident, for example, in the so-called Officia Mariana

Through the centuries at least seven new invocations to Mary have been added. Saint Pope Saint John Paul II added “Mother of the Church” in 1980, and “Queen of Families” in 1995. Pope Francis has now added three more.

There are also other litanies such as of Saints, of the Names of Jesus, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of Saint Joseph, of the Precious Blood and also of Divine Mercy.

(With information from Vatican News)

A video released this week by the Vatican Migrants and Refugees Section ahead of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees September 27

More on Novena on the Pope’s concern for refugees:

Pope thanks Italian Jesuit Refugee Service for witness to “human and Christian values that form the foundation of European civilisation”

COVID-19: Pope invites world “to open eyes, ears and hands ever wider to those who suffer from hunger, injustice and violence”

Pope, in message for Day of Migrants September 27: “God did not want the resources of our planet to benefit only a few. This was not the Lord’s will!”

Francis thanks Mediterranean refugee rescuers: “I’m always available to lend a hand. Count on me”


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.