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Pilgrimages: Mother Mary reigns supreme

Indeed, if Jesus is the Way, Mary is the way to the Way, and people who flock to Marian pilgrim centres all over the world know in their hearts that without this mother they cannot change the water of their life into that sublime wine which is the spiritual bond with Jesus.

Pilgrimages: Mother Mary reigns supreme

By Joe Palathunkal
If you take the total number of pilgrim centres dedicated to any saint or divinity, the ones dedicated to Mother Mary or Virgin Mary will reign supreme.

The mere number of churches and shrines dedicated to her is simply beyond any imagination. Out of the 247 countries of the world, at least 200 will have churches or shrines bearing the name of this simple girl from Nazareth.

If we take the total number of pilgrims visiting the Marian shrines in the world, it will go into billions. One of the most famous Marian pilgrimage centre at Lourdes had so far more than 200 million visitors since the 18 times apparition to a 14 year old girl Bernadette Soubirous in 1860. This is the case with most of the illustrious Marian shrines of the world.

The list of Marian pilgrim centres is very long, though normally we may know about only the most famous ones like Fatima, Guadalupe, Pillar, Pompei, Altotting or Velankanni. But there are numerous other ones which are not very much in limelight or very much talked about but there also every year lakhs of people flock to get her blessings.

If William Wordsworth called the Virgin Mother ‘Our tainted nature’s solitary boast’, there must be a reason for this great poetic insight from one of the greatest poets of all time.

Psychologists say her loving motherly image appeals to people in an irresistible way, and above all she looks so genial and gentle, not at all frightening as in the case of some other deities which have come to us down the centuries even from ancient civilizations.

Definitely, being the mother of the Saviour of the world, she has an incomparable place in human history. Even in Christology, her position is almost equal to that of her son Jesus Christ, even prompting Pope John Paul II to designate her as the Co-Redeemer.

This ardent Marian devotee from Poland who rose to the pinnacle of the Church says in his encyclical Redemptoris mater: “At the centre of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith, stands Mary. As the loving Mother of the Redeemer, she was the first to experience it: To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator!

According to the Roman Catholic theology, Mariology is the catalyst that set in motion the full development of Christology; it is the most beautiful complimentary of Christology. Pope Benedict XVI has said it in a revealing way: “It is necessary to go back to Mary if we want to return to that truth about Jesus Christ.”

Indeed, if Jesus is the Way, Mary is the way to the Way, and people who flock to Marian pilgrim centres all over the world know in their hearts that without this mother they cannot change the water of their life into that sublime wine which is the spiritual bond with Jesus.

September being the birthday month of this greatest mother, it is good to go to her when we are in trouble like the people of Cana and this Mother whom millions of tongues invoke saying ‘Hail Mary, full of grace’, will never spurn you because the Lord is with her as the fruit of her womb, the sanctum sanctorum of our redemption!

(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)

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