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Catholic devotion to the Eucharist is intimately tied to belief in Mary as Mother of God. So it’s only appropriate that the US National Eucharistic Congress being held this July would have a strong Marian element. Certainly, the Blessed Virgin Mary – often called the Ark of the New Covenant – will be recognized in various ways at the Congress.
Now, plans are evolving to have the presence of Mary in three special manifestations – two of them from countries bordering the US.
The Eucharistic Congress – the capstone of the US Bishops’ multi-year Eucharistic Revival – is set to welcome Canada’s National Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of the Cape, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, from the national shrine in the Province of Quebec. The statue will come in procession from Cap-de-la-Madeleine on the bank of the St. Lawrence River to Indianapolis.
In addition, the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA/Our Lady’s Blue Army is launching a tour of the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima to the Eucharistic Congress.
And, while there hasn’t been any similar procession announced from South of the US border, the Diocese of Matamoros, Mexico, has given a special image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Mexico, to be carried along one of the four pilgrimage routes established for the Eucharistic Congress, beginning in Brownsville, Texas.
“She will be processed during our [National Eucharistic Pilgrimage] Kick-Off to the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle, where people will be able to leave prayer intentions to have delivered to the Congress,” said Will Peterson, president of Modern Catholic Pilgrim, the official pilgrimage partner of the National Eucharistic Congress.
Both Our Lady of the Cape and Our Lady of Fatima – accompanied by prayer petitions written down by the faithful along the way – will be placed prominently at the Congress, to be held in the Lucas Oil Stadium from July 17 to 21.
Tim Glemkowski, Executive Director of the National Eucharistic Congress, Inc., told Aleteia that the Congress “welcomes the participation of all people of good will throughout the Church in North America,” though the primary focus of the Congress and Pilgrimage is to “support the work of Eucharistic Revival called for by the bishops in the United States.”
In a letter to the Coalition of Eucharistic and Marian Apostolates, which proposed the Marian statue processions, Glemkowski said that the processions “will visibly demonstrate Our Blessed Mother’s accompaniment of this Eucharistic Revival journey the Church is undertaking collectively.”
“The Eucharistic Revival, in my view, is distinctly Marian in its heart, part of the work of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts to heal, convert, form, and unify the Church so that it can be sent on mission ‘for the life of the world,’” he said. “Our Blessed Mother never obscures her Son, but invites all to behold and know Him fully.”
Some 30,000 passes for the Congress have been distributed so far, according to Glemkowski.
Our Lady of the Cape
A spokeswoman for the Eucharistic Congress said it will be publicizing details about the routes and events for the pilgrim statue processions toward the end of February. But organizers already have a rough idea of how they will be getting to Indianapolis.
The Canadian procession will begin at Cap-de-la-Madeleine on Thursday, July 4, with an event led by Bishop Martin Laliberté of the Diocese of Trois-Rivières.
“As we are journeying together, learning to be more and more a synodal Church, the collaboration between local Churches at different levels is a sign of the action of the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Laliberté wrote to Eucharistic Congress organizers. “In this sense, the participation of some diocesan Churches of Canada in a procession of Our Lady of the Cape to your National Eucharistic Congress would be a sign of this walking together as a whole Church.”
From Cap-de-la-Madeleine, the statue will make stops in Ottawa, the national capital; Toronto; London, Ontario, and Sarnia, Ontario. The statue is expected to cross the border around July 11, then make stops in Pontiac, Michigan, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, before arriving in Indianapolis.
Dennis and Angelina Girard are custodians of the Pilgrim Statue and directors of the Ottawa-based Marian Devotional Movement. They will be driving the statue of Our Lady of the Cape, which will be placed on a platform called an “ark.” It is the same statue and ark used at the 1947 Marian Congress in Ottawa and which the MDM processed for the visit of Pope Francis to Canada in 2022.
Girard told Aleteia that in 1947 and in processions in subsequent years, “hundreds of thousands of signed consecrations” were deposited in the same ark. “It is what we will be doing again with the Fill the Ark movement,” he said.
Parishes along the route of the procession are invited to schedule a Fill the Ark event, which includes the Rosary, Mass, making a public consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, distribution of blessed roses, and a screening of Bridge of Roses, a 2021 film that the MDM produced about Our Lady of Cape. Prayer intentions and consecrations will be carried along with the statue to the Congress in Indianapolis.
Our Lady of the Cape was officially crowned by Pope Pius X in 1904 as Queen of the Holy Rosary. In 1909, Canada’s bishops declared her shrine to be a national one.
“She is special because Our Lady of the Cape is Queen of the Most Holy Rosary,” Girard said. “This is her principal title and the spark of the renewal of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary in our day as depicted in the Bridge of Roses movie.”
In his research, Girard discovered that in 1947, John Haffert, the cofounder of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima was at the Ottawa Marian Congress and “was so taken up by the Our Lady of the Cape procession that he subsequently flew to Fatima to get a statue for the Blue Army to be processed.”
“Last year, I made a presentation to the National Eucharistic Congress proposing the two statue tours to mirror what took place back in 1947 — a five-day conference, with five days of Holy Mass and Confession preceded by the Our Lady of the Cape procession from the Cape to Ottawa,” he said.
So on May 10, in New Haven, Connecticut, the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA/Our Lady’s Blue Army will launch a tour of the historic National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima. It will follow one of four routes of a separate National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.
The Eucharistic Pilgrimage routes, announced last May, are named after Mary and prominent saints having special resonance in the US: the Marian Route from the North, the Seton Route from the East, the Juan Diego Route from the South, and the Serra Route from the West.
The Fatima tour will take place ahead of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage so as not to detract from it. Stops are already scheduled at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Washington, New Jersey (on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13) as well as Philadelphia, Baltimore/Washington, Pittsburgh, Steubenville, Cleveland, and Fort Wayne, but the WAF is still seeking host parishes.
Stops will consist of “Night of Love” vigils of Eucharistic reparation for the return of fallen-away and marginal Catholics. Petitions for these conversions will be carried to the Eucharistic Congress.
David Carollo, executive director for the WAF/Blue Army, said that the foundation of the Fatima message is Eucharistic reparation. “This is where the Angel of Peace at Fatima directed us more than a century ago,” he said. “Mary accompanying her Son on this journey to Indianapolis is a reaffirmation of this.”