Santo Domingo (Agenzia Fides) - "God gives us in Our Lady a sign of his closeness and of the infinite tenderness with which He takes care of us ... The Virgin of Altagracia has been for the Dominican people a source of unity in difficult times, a sure hand that supports in the setbacks that arise in the daily journey. With her protection, she encourages us to take care and to continue to keep burning the flame of hope left to us by our fathers in faith, and to transmit it to others with humility, trusting in the grace of the Lord". The Holy Father writes this in a message sent to the Dominican people on the occasion of the closing of the Altagracian Jubilee Year, announced to commemorate the centenary of the canonical coronation of Our Lady of Altagracia, Mother and Protector of the Dominican people. Greeting with affection "the brothers and sisters of the beloved Dominican Republic", the Pope recalls that this heartfelt Marian devotion "is a sign of the Christian roots that characterize and give life to your land. This is why I urge you not to lose heart in your testimony of faith, to take care and strengthen, with the example and intercession of the Virgin Mary, your love for Jesus and for the Church". The Holy Father therefore invites everyone to "walk together, beyond divisions and mistrust, united in brotherhood, in the direction that Jesus indicates in the Gospel".
The Dominican Episcopal Conference (CED) has announced the Altagracian Jubilee Year, from August 15, 2021 to August 15, 2022, with the aim of "confirming the pact of a new encounter with the Virgin, revitalizing the faith of Dominicans and pursue a strong national coexistence". During this Jubilee Year, the faithful can obtain the plenary indulgence in the shrines and churches chosen by the bishops in their respective dioceses. In addition, various activities were carried out, coordinated by the National Organizing Commission, such as prayer meetings, processions, rosaries, the dissemination of videos in honor of the Virgen de la Altagracia, a theatrical performance on the origin of the cult of the Virgen de la Altagracia, the delivery to each diocese of a copy of the image of the Virgin (see Fides, 11/10/2021).
On January 21, the solemnity of the Queen and Protector of the country, the Dominican people gathered as every year in the Basilica dedicated to her, in the place where she is believed to have appeared. The Basilica is located in the center of the city of Higuei, and is the most important Marian complex in the country as well as the most frequented by Dominicans and tourists, who come in large numbers on pilgrimage. The feast was celebrated with a small number of faithful present, in compliance with anti Covid health regulations. For this reason, on the same day some priests on airplanes, ships and army vehicles, carrying the Blessed Sacrament and the image of the Virgin of Altagracia, blessed the Dominican people for an hour (see Fides, 19/1/2022).
For the closing celebration of the Jubilee Year of Altagracia, the Holy Father sent Msgr. Edgar Peña Parra, Substitute of the Secretary of State as his representative, who will place at the foot of the image of Our Mother of Altagracia the filial homage of the Pope, symbolized in the golden rose. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 18/7/2022)