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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Our Lady is set to be greatly honored once again by thousands of prayer pilgrims in California's capital.
The Great Marian Procession — the West Coast's largest march honoring the Blessed Mother — is returning this Saturday, May 20, to the streets of Sacramento. The organizers of the event are inviting everyone to join the prayer-filled hike through the city, which will cover more than three miles.
The great procession is being resurrected after a three-year hiatus, thanks to the persistence of the faithful of California and the parishioners and priests of St. Stephen the First Martyr Parish (served by the priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter).
Saint Stephen parishioner and event organizer Mike Solton explains to Church Militant that the 2020 lockdown and subsequent "scheduling and logistical challenges" made it difficult for the march to happen.
"Over the years," Solton notes, "the primary intention was to give rightful honor to the Mother of God, our Mother, in the form of public procession and prayer."
But this year, however, a special intention is being added: prayer for priests. According to Solton, the event will implore Heaven "that through Mary's intercession, priests everywhere will live and act with heroic virtue and holiness, and for more vocations to the priesthood."
Solton explained the process: "We walk 3 1/2 miles through the streets of Sacramento, praying the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Then at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, we begin with Mary's May Crowning, followed by Solemn Mass (Traditional Latin)."
8 a.m. — Gathering at East Lawn Cemetery, 4300 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento
8:30 a.m. — Beginning the procession
9 a.m. — Praying the Rosary while walking through the streets of Sacramento
11 a.m. — May crowning and offering Solemn Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
The website encourages the faithful to submit prayer requests: "Make it happen! Enter them, and on May 20, get ready for the graces!" The intentions will be included in the thousands of Rosaries and other prayers being offered by the thousands of participants on Saturday. They will be carried in a basket next to the statue of Our Lady of Fatima leading off the procession.
Organizers urge those who can't attend in person to pray in union with those who do attend, multiplying the Rosaries.
Marian processions, like this Saturday's event in Sacramento, represent a traditional devotion dating back to the time of Christ.
Just as the Blessed Mother accompanied her Son carrying His Cross through the streets of Jerusalem, likewise the participants in the procession this Saturday will follow Mary through the streets of Sacramento with a processional cross.
As stated in section 1679 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in the various forms of piety which accompany the sacramental life of the Church such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross and the rosary. The Church sheds the light of faith upon and fosters authentic forms of popular piety.
The event website points out that the custom of Marian processions has sadly disappeared in many places throughout the world. "It's time to fix this!" it reads.
Another St. Stephen parishioner, who helped organize the last procession before lockdowns, explained what makes faithful Californians keep the Marian tradition alive:
This procession is about going out into the secular world, into the streets, into the public, and being a very visible witness for Catholicism. It's about honoring the Mother of Our Lord and honoring the Queen of Heaven, bringing her to the people and asking for her powerful intercession.
"As California goes, so goes the nation, so goes the world," she added.