Catholics re-enact the Way of the Cross during this year's pilgrimage to the Mary, Queen of Fatima shrine
Thousands of devotees last week thronged to a Marian shrine in northeastern Mymensingh diocese
to thank the Virgin Mary for blessings received after prayers during this year’s 14th annual pilgrimage. The Mary, Queen of Fatima shrine atop the hills of Baromari in Sherpur district, drew more than 12,000 pilgrims from across the country for the two-day event that ended on October 28. Pilgrims marked the first day with a Mass, candle-lit procession, adoration of the virgin, prayers for healing and a screening of a documentary about the life of Mary. The final day’s events included a special Mass celebrated by Holy Cross Bishop Ponen Paul Kubi of Mymenshing and Holy Cross auxiliary Bishop Lawrence Subrato Howlader of Chittagong. Baromari’s shrine has seen a rise in popularity among Catholics in the country, with more pilgrims saying that they intend to participate in the pilgrimage in coming years. “Every year I join the pilgrimage to be enriched spiritually, to begin a new life with blessings from the Holy Mother. As a pilgrim walking along the hills in prayer, meditation and confession, I get filled with spiritual richness,” said Maria Chiran, 55, a tribal Garo from Jalchhatra parish in Tangail district. She added that this year she had been terribly sick in May and cried out to Mary for healing. “I along with my relatives prayed and cried to Mother Mary. I fully recovered miraculously. Now I’ve come to thank Mary with a grateful heart.” Passionate devotion to Mary has even attracted a number of non-Christians in recent years. A 50-year-old Muslim farmer, identified only as Alfazuddin, said that he has never missed the pilgrimage to Baromari since it officially began in 1998. “Like the Christians, I too long for the annual event. Their devotion to Mother Mary impresses me and I feel myself that the event is not meant only for [Christians] but also for [Muslims].” The shrine was inaugurated by the late Bishop Francis A Gomes of Mymensingh in 1997. The pilgrimage began the following year. It was established in response to a call by the Blessed John Paul II in 2000 to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of Jesus's birth. From the beginning of the pilgrimage, the shrine earned wide popularity, largely as a result of those who claimed miraculous cures and the fulfillment of prayer requests.