Thursday 8 December is the religious feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and an Italian public holiday. Pope Benedict XVI will conduct mass to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in the Basilica of S. Peters in Rome at 9.30. The mass will also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Ecumenical council. At 16.00 the Pope will make the first visit of his papacy to pay homage to the statue of the Virgin Mary high on a column in the Piazza Mignanelli next to the Piazza di Spagna.