In the face of growing alarm over the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic bishops of the United States are entrusting the nation to Our Lady of Guadalupe and asking her intercession for the country and the world.

In a statement issued March 13, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) President Archbishop José H. Gomez called on American Catholics to “intensify our prayers and sacrifices for the love of God and the love of our neighbor” at the end of a week marked by drastic measures taken by several U.S. dioceses to slow the spread of the virus.

“Let us draw closer to one another in our love for him, and rediscover the things that truly matter in our lives,” the Archbishop of Los Angeles said.

As of March 13, nearly 130,000 confirmed cases of Coronavirus COVID-19 had been recorded worldwide, and at least 4,700 deaths connected to the disease.

The archbishop said the coronavirus outbreak is a reminder of “the fragility of our lives” and of “our common humanity — that the peoples of this world are our brothers and sisters, that we are all one family under God.”

“God does not abandon us, he goes with us even now in this time of trial and testing,” Archbishop Gomez wrote. “In this moment, it is important for us to anchor our hearts in the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.”

The USCCB president expressed unity with Pope Francis in asking for prayers for those who have fallen ill or lost loved ones from the virus,as well as for healthcare professionals and civic leaders: “May God grant them courage and prudence as they seek to respond to this emergency with compassion and in service to the common good.”

The Mexican-born prelate concluded by inviting Catholics to “seek together the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe” and shared the following prayer:

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.