Arequipa (Fides Service) – The Church all over the world continues to Celebrate the 25 years of the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II. In Peru, the archdiocese of Arequipa with the diocesan Office of the Pontifical Mission Societies organised a Marian Missionary March on 31 October “to thank God for the 25 years of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate and demonstrate the affection of the people of Arequipa archdiocese for verso the supreme Pontiff”, PMS diocesan director Rev. Father Victor Livori tells Fides Service.
Some 20.000 students, religious members of lay movements and parish delegations took part. Starting from different points participants marched in prayer along the main roads of the “white city” to gather in the main square. To symbolise the different continents of the world and the universal nature of the Marian Missionary March each group was assigned a different colour and candles of the same colour represent a certain continent as a sign of their missionary commitment.
On reaching the cathedral the marchers joined in the recitation of the Holy Rosary to thank God for graces received during the Year of the Rosary and express their love of the Our Lady of Chapi, their Patroness. The prayer will also recall that it was Pope John Paul II who crowned the image of Our Lady of Chapi when he visited Arequipa on 2 February 1985 and beatified Sister Ana of the Angels. On that occasion the Holy Father said: “With this act the Pope intends to seal the bond which exists between Arequipa, the Church in Peru and the Most Holy Virgin Mary. In fact this eminently Marian so-called “white city”, born under the protection of the Blessed Virgin on the 15th August, feast of the Assumption, in 1540, has always been deeply devoted to the Mother of God…faithful from all over the country come to pray here for the intentions of the whole Church, particularly those of the Church in Peru and in Arequipa”.
The Marian Missionary March closed with the reading of a Message for the occasion sent by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples as a sign of unity between the universal Church in Rome and the Church in Arequipa followed by a solemn Mass of Thanksgiving presided by the Archbishop Luis Sánchez-Moreno Lira. (R.Z.) (Agenzia Fides 31/10/2003; lines 33; words 434)