Plans Laid for Historic Pilgrimage as Pro-Life Leaders Meet in Poland

“Striking unity of religious traditions and leaders” as historic “ocean to ocean” pilgrimage for life across Asia and Europe receives commitment from Catholic, Orthodox clergy and lay leaders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2012
CONTACT: Stephen Phelan 540-622-5270 – SPhelan@hli.orgwww.hli.org

CZESTOCHOWA, Poland – On Saturday, January 28 in the Jasna Gora monastery, leaders of the pro-life movements of 17 European and Asian countries embarked on an unprecedented collaboration, a pro-life pilgrimage that will traverse two continents. The leaders made an “Act of Trust and Consecration” to the Black Madonna icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, placing into Our Lady’s hands the protection of life across continents that have been decimated by widespread contraception and abortion.

The pilgrimage will originate in Vladivostok, Russia and will end in Fatima, Portugal. It is expected to take place this Spring.

The nations represented by pro-life leaders were Ukraine, Hungary, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, UK, USA and Poland.

This solemn celebration in the icon chapel of Jasna Gora was led by Czestochowa Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak along with two other bishops and numerous Polish and foreign priests. Also present were Orthodox priests from Ukraine and Belarus, along with pro-life leaders from each of these countries.

“This will truly be a significant and unprecedented event in its scope, although the tradition of public processions with religious icons in times and places of great distress is a centuries-old tradition,” said Fr. West, Vice President for Missions at Human Life International (HLI). “Today, the scourge is in the form of contraception and abortion, and other assaults on life and family. A public consecration of the afflicted areas and peoples sends a powerful message of hope, and can build resolve toward a vigorous, prayerful, peaceful and sustained defense of life. The striking unity of religious traditions and leaders is a testament both to the gravity of the issues we are facing and to our hope for a return to a Culture of Life.”

The icon that will be the centerpiece of the pilgrimage is a replica of the original, famed icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which has made the Jana Gora monastery the most popular religious pilgrimage destination in Poland. The replica was made using traditional egg tempera and mineral pigments and 23 carat gold on wood of the same size as the original.

The Jasna Gora statement was preceded by a pro-life leader’s meeting consisting mainly of HLI representatives from different countries. Fr. Zacharias Jablonski explained during the meeting the tradition of sending icons on pilgrimages and even on the frontlines of battles, with a request to God for help, where there is the greatest threat to life. He spoke about the Polish experience of pilgrim icons of Our Lady of Czestochowa and its fruits.

About HLI: Human Life International: For the Glory of God and defense of Life, Faith and Family. Founded in 1981, HLI is the world’s largest international pro-life and pro-family organization, with affiliates and associates in over 100 countries on six continents. www.hli.org.

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