If there's a silver lining to this pandemic, it's that the world faithful could deepen their faith and discover a powerful story of a miraculous crucifix that once saved Rome from the plague.
Pope Francis’ extraordinary Urbi et OrbiFor a moment, people of the world, regardless of their faith, tuned in to watch the extraordinary moment of prayer held by Pope Francis. On March 27, 2020, under a gloomy sky and the thick rain, the Pontiff addressed the world from the deserted churchyard of St Peter’s Basilica:
«’When evening had come’ (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost.»
Pope Francis praying in front of the crucifix of San Marcello
Like the Good Shepherd did with his lost ship, the Holy Father comforted those who let this virulent evil by offering a precious lesson of faith and the Urbi et Orbi blessing as an antidote against the greatest evil of all: the fear.
Crucifix of San Marcello against the pandemicFor the extraordinary prayer of 27 March, Pope Francis requested a miraculous crucifix to be moved to St Peter’s Square.
Work of an anonymous Roman artist, this 14th-century crucifix belongs to the Church of San Marcello al Corso and was clearly inspired by North European style. The upper beam is slightly shorter than usual, which lends a somewhat more triangular shape to the overall construction.
Plague crucifix at the Church of San Marcello al Corso
The story of a miraculous crucifix
A few days before the homily of March 27, the Holy Father visited the Church of San Marcello al Corso to pay homage to the so-called «plague crucifix». Named after the Pope Marcellus I, this little church was completely destroyed by a fire in 1519 — only the altar crucifix survived the flames.
When the plague hit the Eternal City in 1522, the Romans turned to the miraculous crucifix. On the initiative of the Valencian cardinal Raimondo Vich, the crucifix was paraded in procession from the Church of San Marcello to the Vatican. After eighteen days, when it was placed in front of St Peter’s Basilica, the plague disappeared from the city of Rome.
Miraculous crucifix to wear
During the lockdown, Savelli Religious commissioned a wearable replica of the crucifix of San Marcello. Crafted in sterling silver, it showcases a simple design faithful to the original and features the date of the extraordinary homily engraved on the reverse side.
The miraculous crucifix pendant is also available in vermeil sterling silver and in different sizes.