Pope Francis kicked off a month-long marathon of worldwide Roman Catholic prayer on Saturday to ask God for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, and said money spent on armaments should be used instead to prevent future outbreaks. Francis presided at the recital of the rosary in St. Peter’s Basilica on the first day of May, a month Roman Catholics traditionally dedicate to daily prayer to the Madonna. Each day during the month, Roman Catholics have been asked to pray for a specific category of people affected by the pandemic, such as those who were unable to say goodbye to their dying loved ones, health workers, the poor, the homeless and those thrown into economic difficulty. The pope prayed that “this difficult trial ends and that horizons of hope and peace return”. He asked the Madonna to “touch consciences so that enormous sums spent to increase and perfect armaments be destined instead to promote adequate studies to prevent similar catastrophes in the future”.