Rome celebrates Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Pope Francis visits Rome's Spanish Steps during public holiday on 8 December.

On the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday 8 December, Pope Francis will pay homage to the Virgin Mary by making a pilgrimage to Piazza Mignanelli near the Spanish Steps at 16.00.

In an annual tradition dating back to 1958, after kneeling in prayer the pope leaves a floral wreath which firemen then place on the statue of the Madonna in the square. He is always greeted here by the mayor of Rome, who this year is Virginia Raggi of the Movimento 5 Stelle.

As well as being a Catholic holy day it is a national Italian holiday, and all schools and public offices will be closed. However most shops remain open as the day is generally viewed as the official start of the Christmas shopping season.

The pope’s visit to the historic centre will result in a number of street closures and bus detours in the area around the Spanish Steps throughout the day. For full details see Muoversi a Roma website.