ASIA/HOLY LAND - Haifa, a praying multitude of thousands of people participate in the procession in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Wednesday, 4 May 2022 middle east   local churches   marian devotion   marian worship

Haifa (Agenzia Fides) - Thousands of Christians took part in the traditional procession in Haifa in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the afternoon of Sunday, May 1, popularly known as Taalat al-Adra, the "Ascent of the Virgin". Along the two and a half kilometer route from the Latin parish of St. Joseph to the Stella Maris Carmelite monastery on Mount Carmel, preceded by teams of scouts from all over the country, believers of all rites marched, reciting prayers and singing hymns to the Virgin. This year, the traditional procession took place without the restrictions due to the pandemic. Last year - recalls the report published on the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem - due to the Covid pandemic, the procession turned into a convoy of cars that went to the top of Mount Carmel. The "Ascension of the Virgin" is a popular devotional act that has deep roots in the lives of Christians in the Holy Land. "At the time of the First World War - explains to Agenzia Fides the Carmelite Father Mikhael Abdo OCD, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Holy Land - the Turks gave three hours to the Carmelite Fathers to leave the monastery of Mount Carmel. They had left with only a few archival documents and the statue of the Virgin. After the war, in 1919, there was the first procession to bring the statue of the Virgin back to the monastery, which was also experienced as an act as an act of gratitude". In the past the multitude of devotees who took part in the procession was even more numerous, but today restrictions on freedom of movement prevent those who once came from Lebanon from participating. "Today we walked up. Today we are rejoicing. But eventually, we’ll have to go back down, to our daily worries and problems", said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, at the Stella Maris Monastery, at the end of the procession. "So, where we are going, we must bring the joy of tonight. We must bring the consolation of the gaze of our Mother, which we received today, in our everyday life". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 4/5/2022)