Eight hundred years ago, a barefoot St. Dominic carried an icon of the Virgin Mary across Rome to entrust the Marian image to a new community of cloistered nuns, who have safeguarded the icon within the walls of their convent to this day.
The icon, known as the “Advocata,” can be found today in a small chapel on Rome’s highest hill, in the Church of Santa Maria del Rosario on Monte Mario.
As St. Dominic carried the limewood icon on the night of Sunday, February 28, 1221, two cardinals delegated by Pope Honorius III accompanied the founder of the Dominican Order, and 42 nuns followed in procession behind on their way to their new convent.
In their 800-year history, this Roman Dominican community of sisters has only moved twice: once in the 16th century and once in the 20th century. The nuns have been based at the Monte Mario convent since 1931.
Today there are eight Dominican nuns in the convent, who participate in Sunday Mass from behind a grille to the left of the altar. Next to them, lies their treasured Marian icon, also behind a grille. Visitors can venerate the icon immediately after Mass.
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