Ende (Agenzia Fides) - More than 15,000 pilgrims have visited the cave dedicated to Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in Mbay, in the Archdiocese of Ende, on the island of Flores, considered "the Catholic heart of Indonesia", during the last days of May alone. The influx of faithful, from neighboring parishes and even from outside the diocese, testifies to the renewal of pilgrimages and the movement that Marian devotion induces in Indonesian Catholic communities, especially during the months of May and October, traditionally dedicated to the Virgin. The communities of faithful visitors - who returned after the pandemic years - were welcomed by the local population with a traditional ceremony known as the "bhea" tradition (traditional greeting) and celebrated the Eucharist, with ardent Marian devotion, summed up in the title of the pilgrimage "Together with Mary we serve the Lord". "The pilgrimage, for all communities, is an opportunity to deepen faith, to strengthen ties between parishes and develop mutual love", said Father Aster Aldo, accompanying a group of faithful. Still on the island of Flores, but in the diocese of Maumere, in the village of Wuli Wutik, stands the statue of "Mary Mother of All Peoples", 28 meters high, built by the Passionist missionaries, where pilgrims turned out en masse to conclude the "Marian month".
An intense visit by the faithful has also been recorded at the Marian shrine of Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni, in the Indonesian city of Medan, North Sumatra, where the baptized come "to seek peace, comfort and healing from Mary, our Mother" , explained Jesuit Father James Barathaputra. The Marian shrines in the Indonesian dioceses are frequented by the faithful and devotees who pray there with fervor, in particular by reciting the rosary. This was the case in the diocese of Semarang, at the Marian sanctuary of Sendangsono, with the Grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, the oldest in Indonesia; in Poh Sarang, a small isolated village on the slopes of Mount Klothok, in the Kediri region of West Java; as well as in the Diocese of Bogor, at the Marian Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Canadian Hill, in the Banten region.
Among the ecclesial groups that have coordinated and organized Marian pilgrimages during the month of May, in the various Indonesian islands, there is the "Legion of Mary", a lay Catholic association present in the archipelago since 1951, with a total of approximately 70,000 members in numerous Catholic churches, schools and communities, with the aim of living and spreading devotion to the Immaculate Conception, of deepening the faith and of bringing practical help to other people in spiritual and material need. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 31/5/2023)