On Monday, December 8, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The day commemorates the solemn belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that was graced by God to lead a life “free of sin”.

In Italy is a holy day of obligation, and a national public holiday: all schools and public offices will be closed. However, most shops are not closed, as the day is generally viewed as the official start of the Christmas shopping season.

In an annual tradition dating back to 1958, Pope Francis will pay homage to the Virgin Mary by making a pilgrimage to Piazza di Spagna, near the Spanish Steps, at 4 pm, kneel in prayer, and then leave a floral wreath that firemen will place on the statue of the Madonna in the square.

The Capital will be pervaded of Christmas spirit, with lights and decorations, Nativity scenes, Christmas markets (the biggest in Piazza Navona), Christmas trees and Christmas sweets: a wonderful time to visit Rome.

For the occasion, on Monday 8, civic museums will be exceptionally open.

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