Basilica in Washington to lead pandemic prayer on May 17

Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory leads a liturgy at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington May 1, 2020. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

WASHINGTON—A shrine in our nation’s capital was chosen to be part of the global marathon of prayer instituted by Pope Francis for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pope Francis called for a “marathon” of prayer during the month of May to appeal for divine assistance in bringing about an end to the pandemic. Marian shrines around the world have been chosen by the Holy See to lead the rosary each day of the month with specific prayer intentions focused on those impacted by the pandemic.

In the United States, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., was asked to lead the rosary on Monday, May 17. Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop of Washington, will lead the recitation of the rosary at noon that day for the special intention of world leaders and the heads of international organizations as they continue to work to combat the pandemic.

The faithful are invited to join online, and the prayer will be livestreamed on the shrine’s website at: In addition, the national shrine will accommodate 1,000 people while maintaining appropriate social distancing in its Great Upper Church. Those wishing to attend in person are invited to register at:

This month-long initiative of prayer is being organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. The shrines chosen for each day of prayer reflect the global reach and diversity of the Catholic Church as each prays in their local language.

For more information on this worldwide effort, please visit: