Imploring the Blessed Virgin Mary to “bring everyone under your protection and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory on May 1 joined with bishops throughout the United States and Canada in rededicating the two countries to Our Lady.

“In this time of pandemic we come to you, our sign of sure hope and comfort. Today we renew the act of consecration and entrustment carried out by those who have gone before us,” Archbishop Gregory prayed during a liturgy at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

United with bishops offering similar prayers of rededication to the Blessed Virgin from their respective dioceses across the United States and Canada, Archbishop Gregory said, “In this difficult time we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, to ask that she intercede with her Son for all those who are affected in any way by this pandemic.”

Because of local and federal social distancing and self-isolation mandates in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, the rededication liturgy at the National Shrine was not open to the public, but live streamed on social media platforms. More than 3,500 people viewed the prayer service on the National Shrine's YouTube channel.

“With the love of a mother and handmaid, embrace our nation which we entrust and consecrate once again to you, together with ourselves and our families, “ Archbishop Gregory prayed to Our Lady. “With the love of a mother and handmaid, embrace us as we renew our consecration to you, together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The reconsecration 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, Archbishop and future Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle, then the archbishop of Washington, again consecrated the United States to Our Lady. The Blessed Virgin Mary – under her title, the Immaculate Conception – is the patroness of the United States.

“No matter how old or prominent we may have become, we never seem to outgrow that primal sense of security which comes from the embrace of our mother,” Archbishop Gregory said. “It is that assurance that prompts us today to turn once more to the woman who is first in grace and the Mother of the Church during this time of our anxiety and apprehension. We are, after all, Mary’s children no matter our title, culture, state in life, or age.”

Archbishop Gregory offers a reflection during the May 1 prayer ceremony at the National Shrine, when he joined bishops across the United States and Canada in reconsecrating their countries to the Blessed Mother. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

In his reconsecraton prayer, Archbishop Gregory beseeched Our Lady's “intercession for the needs of our country, that every desire for good may be blessed and strengthened, that faith may be revived and nourished, hope sustained and enlightened, charity awakened and animated.”

“Accept with the benevolence of a mother the act of consecration that we make today with confidence, and help us to be your Son’s instruments for the healing and salvation of our country and the world,” the archbishop prayed.

In addition to renewing the consecration of the United States to Our Lady, Archbishop Gregory invoked the Blessed Mother under her various titles and asked for her intercession during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, as he prayed:

“Mary, Health of the Sick … we entrust to you all who are infected with the coronavirus. 

“Mary, Mother of Consolation … we entrust to you all those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic.

“Mary, Help of Christians … we entrust to your loving protection all caregivers.

“Mary, Queen and Mother of Mercy … we entrust to you all who are suffering in any way from the pandemic.

“Mary, Seat of Wisdom … we entrust to you all who are working to find a cure to this pandemic.

“Mary, Mother of Good Counsel … we entrust to you all leaders and policymakers.”

Archbishop Gregory prays the fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, the Crucifixion and Death of our Lord, during the May 1 prayer service at the National Shrine reconsecrating the United States to Mary's protection during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

The reconsecration was 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.

“She (Mary) is Mother across national borders, ethnic or racial heritages, political or social status. She regularly appears in the native garb and with facial features of her children,” Archbishop Gregory said before pronouncing the prayer of reconsecration. “We are all her children, and we can take great comfort in turning to her for her unassailable protection as we do this afternoon. We claim her as our own Mother and ask her to protect, comfort, and heal us as her children. “ 

Prior to the reconsecration, Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the National Shrine, read from the Gospel of John (19:25-27), in which Jesus, hanging on the cross, “saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved (and) He said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son.' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother.' ”

During the short but profound liturgy, Archbishop Gregory prayed a decade of the rosary - the fifth sorrowful mystery, Jesus Dies on the Cross - and chanted the Regina Caeli, a 12th century antiphon in honor of Our Lady that is sung from Easter Sunday until Pentecost.

“Our prayer this afternoon seeks to remind us all of that wonderful relationship that the Church has with Mary – a relationship that began on Calvary when her Son gave her to us to be our Mother,” Archbishop Gregory said. “She (Mary) was then and has remained for us throughout the ages a source of hope, comfort, and protection. May she listen attentively to the prayers of her children today and always.”

Washington's archbishop offers the final blessing at the May 1 prayer service at the National Shrine reconsecrating the United States to Mary. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)