Colombo (Agenzia Fides) – With special prayers for peace in all the dioceses, the Church in Sri Lanka is preparing the customary annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu (Diocese of Mannar), which will be held this August 15, for the Solemnity of the Assumption, according to an over 400-year-old tradition.
The pilgrimage will focus on the theme of peace and national reconciliation, which will be the main prayer intentions during these days leading up to the event and during the pilgrimage (which many make on foot), as well as in the celebrations at the Shrine.
Following an accord between the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the government, the pilgrimage was no longer postponed or cancelled as had been previously thought, for security reasons. The Shrine has been affected in recent months by the fighting between national forces and the Tamil rebels. The statue of the Virgin Mary had to be moved for safety reasons.
The government authorities are working to restore safety in the Shrine area, clearing it of anti-personnel mines and explosives that have been spread throughout the area. Also, the path leading up to the church will no longer have road blocks and other security measures that have made the path of the pilgrims more difficult.
This year, a great number of pilgrims are expected to come, in comparison to last year when bombing and fighting were still taking place and only 500 faithful were able to make the visit to the Shrine of Madhu. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/7/2009)