ROME – Pope Francis' favorite icon of the Madonna in Rome has gotten a face-lift.
The Vatican on Wednesday unveiled photos of the restored Salus populi Romani, the Byzantine-style painting on wood located inside the St. Mary Major Basilica. The icon, revered by Romans, will be displayed to the public Sunday, when Francis celebrates a special Mass at the basilica.
Francis famously slipped out of the Vatican the morning after his election as pope to pray before the icon. Before and after every foreign trip, he goes to the basilica to pray before it and leaves a bouquet of white roses.
The head of the Vatican Museums, Barbara Jatta, said the restoration uncovered the "delicate" colors of Mary and Jesus, and the brilliance of the child's golden robe.