For a long time I have wondered what image Vassula was referring to when she spoke about a very old image of Our Lady that existed in Rome. She was speaking in one of the video recordings she made in Rome in 1999. You can view the videos at http://vassula-ryden.com/video.html I've just found the image! ￼ In St. Mary Major, there is a painting of Mary which is believed to be painted by St. Luke himself, making it the oldest painting of Mary in the world. It is called the Salus Populi Romani (English: Protectress of the Roman People — Protectress is a translation of the Latin “salus” which means “salvation” or “health.”) It has historically been the most important Marian icon in Rome, and was crowned by Pope Pius XII in 1954. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI venerated the Salus Populi Romani on different occasions, and asked Mary on each occasion to “pray for us.” One of the first acts after his election was Pope Francis’ prayer before the Salus Populi Romani. In May of 2013, the month dedicated to Our Lady and the Holy Rosary, Pope Francis also prayed his first public Rosary before this ancient and venerable image. And, he has continued to honor this important Basilica, visiting it more than six times since his election. The Roman Breviary states: “After the Council of Ephesus (431) in which the Mother of Jesus was acclaimed as Mother of God, Pope Sixtus III erected at Rome on the Esquiline Hill, a basilica dedicated to the honor of the Holy Mother of God. It was afterward called Saint Mary Major and it is the oldest church in the West dedicated to the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” St. John Lateran (photo below) is the oldest and ranks first among the four Papal basilicas of Rome, since it is the cathedra or “seat” of the Bishop of Rome. So, it was the first papal residence in Rome. For centuries, the Popes lived here, not in the Vatican. The façade has the inscription Christo Salvatori, “To Christ the Savior,” indicating the church’s dedication to Christ — the cathedrals of all patriarchs are dedicated to Christ himself. As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, it ranks above all other churches, including St. Peter’s, and so, unlike all other Roman Basilicas, it holds the title of Archbasilica. In ancient Rome, it was the baptism church. The Archbasilica was built in the time of Constantine and was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324. St. John Lateran contains several important relics: an ancient baptistry built by Constantine; under the High Altar, which can only be used by the Pope, there is a relic said to be part of St. Peter’s communion table; and the Altar of the Holy Sacrament contains a cedar table that is said to be the one used by Christ at the Last Supper.