Guido Reni was commissioned in 1631 by the city of Bologna, Italy to create an image of the Madonna and Child on a silk banner that would be processed annually from the public square to the Church of Saint Dominic in thanksgiving for the end of the plague that ravaged the city a year earlier causing the death of a third of its inhabitants.
Reni included in his painting the Santi Protettori, Holy Protectors (Patron Saints), of the city and depicted them interceding to Mother and Child on behalf of the Bologna residents. At the bottom of the painting is the city of Bologna.
But the focus of Reni’s painting is the God-Child, Jesus, held by His Virgin Mother, blessing the city as cherub angels place a crown of roses on Mary and drop rosaries and scapulars from heaven to the people below bringing to mind Our Lady’s promise to Saint Simon Stock four centuries earlier,
“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, I will save the world.”
Pope Francis is asking the faithful to pray the rosary during the month of May asking Mary and all the Saints to intercede on behalf of all humanity, to bring a swift end to the coronavirus pandemic. Let us join our Holy Father as he prays,
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
Reni’s silk image was eventually framed and has a permanent home in the National Art Gallery of Bologna.
How to Say the Rosary https://www.rosarycenter.org/homepage-2/rosary/how-to-pray-the-rosary/
Letter of Pope Francis including Prayers to Mary to end the pandemic. http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2020/documents/papa-francesco_20200425_lettera-mesedimaggio.html