Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory will join with bishops from across the United States and Canada Friday, May 1 to re-consecrate the two nations to the maternal care of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

Invoking Our Lady under her title, “Mary, Mother of the Church,” the bishops will “pray for Our Lady's continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible (COVID-19) virus," Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in a letter to the U.S. bishops inviting them to join in the re-consecration.

Archbishop Gomez will lead a brief liturgy with a prayer of re-consecration at 3 p.m. EDT. Archbishop Gregory will also offer prayers at the same time at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

“I will join with Archbishop Gomez, our USCCB president and bishops throughout the USA and Canada in petitioning Our Blessed Mother to gaze favorably upon us in our need,” Archbishop Gregory said. “At the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, I will offer a common prayer that rededicates our country to her maternal care and loving protection.”

Archbishop Gregory noted that “May is traditionally considered a Marian month” in which the faithful participate in “special ceremonies declaring our love and devotion to the Mother of God.” 

“We will do so once again on this first day of May as we ask her protection and comfort during these unsettling times caused by the coronavirus and its impact on the life of people everywhere,” Archbishop Gregory said.

The May 1 consecration is similar to what the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean did on Easter Sunday when they consecrated their nations to the Blessed Virgin under her title, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Blessed Virgin Mary – under her title, the Immaculate Conception – is the patroness of the United States. Invoking her on May 1 as “Mary, Mother of the Church,” does not change that, but is a way of seeking “the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic," Archbishop Gomez said in his letter.

The May 1 consecration reaffirms the bishops' previous consecrations of the United States to Mary. In 1792, the first bishop of the United States, Baltimore Bishop John Carroll, consecrated the nation to Mary under the title Immaculate Conception, and in 1846, the U.S. bishops unanimously chose Mary under that title as the patroness of the nation, and again rededicated this country to her.

In 1959, when construction of the National Shrine was completed, Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle, then the archbishop of Washington, again consecrated the United States to Our Lady. 

"I am delighted that the USCCB will join the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in renewing our nations to the care and powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary as we continue in this coronavirus pandemic,” said Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the National Shrine. “I am especially pleased that Archbishop Gregory will lead this consecration here at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as it was here in 1959 on the day the National Shrine was dedicated, that the bishops of the United States held a similar consecration of our country to Our Lady, under her title of the Immaculate Conception."

The Basilica of the National Shrine will livestream Archbishop Gregory's May 1 prayer of re-consecration on its website, www.nationalshrine.org; on its YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/MarysShrine; and on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/nationalshrine

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop will live stream Archbishop Gomez's prayer of re-consecration on Friday on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/usccb.

Pope Francis prays in front of the Marian icon, "Salus Populi Romani" (health of the Roman people), during Easter Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 12, 2020. The Mass was celebrated without the presence of the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Andreas Solaro, Reuters pool)