That Marian angle may also help shape the perspective Francis brings to discussions about divorced and remarried Catholics and people in other irregular relationships. It certainly hasn't escaped his attention that when Mary conceived the Christ child, she was technically still outside wedlock.
Francis recalled the point Sunday in his Angelus address before heading out to Piazza di Spagna.
"When the Angel of the Lord calls her 'full of grace,' Mary is 'greatly troubled,' because in her humility she felt like nothing before God," the pope said. "The announcement [that she would bear a child] upset her all the more, in part because she wasn't yet married to Joseph."
It's hard to imagine that his meditations on that moment haven't had an impact on how Francis thinks about the pressures faced by women and couples in all sorts of situations.