In Spain there has always been a great devotion to the Immaculate Conception, and precisely this invocation of the Virgin Mary has a monument in the Spain Square in Rome.
Located next to the Mignanelli Square and in front of the Embassy of Spain before the Holy See, the monument has its origin in the declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Two years later, on 8 December 1856, Immaculate Day, King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies – grandson of King Charles IV of Spain and son of the Infanta of Spain María Isabel de Borbón – attended Mass in honor of the Virgin in Naples. Then, when he reviewed his troops, a soldier tried to kill him by nailing his bayonet. The King survived the attack and attributed his salvation to the protection of the Immaculate. In gratitude, he ordered the construction of the column dedicated to the Virgin in the Spain Square in Rome. The monument was inaugurated on December 8, 1857, on the first anniversary of the attack.
In 1923 the fire brigade of Rome carried out its homage to the Immaculate Conception for the first time, raising one of its stairs to the statue of the Virgin and climbing a wreath to hang it on the right arm of Mary. This tribute, interrupted by World War II, was recovered in 1949, becoming an annual tradition. In the last 70 years and without exception, every dawn on December 8, the most veteran firefighter in Rome has climbed up to the statue of the Virgin and has hung the crown of flowers on his arm, then making the military salute as a sign of respect, and afterwards sounding the sirens of the fire trucks in homage to Mary.
Since 1958 this tribute is chaired by the Pope, attending all the pontiffs since John XXIII. You can see here the tribute celebrated yesterday:
This celebration is also like a party for the Spanish colony in Rome. Yesterday several members of the Academy of the Civil Guard of Baeza (Jaén) offered the Pope the characteristic tricorn of this Spanish police force, a head gear that Francis put on a few moments. The Asociación PRO Guardia Civil published this video of that moment:
Photos: Comando Vigili del Fuoco Roma.
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