Despite the oppressive heat, the Mother of God in her icon is traveling through Latvia. On the third day of the pilgrimage we encountered our first surprise in the village of Gulbene. Although this is a small parish, nevertheless Our Lady was greeted by three priests in addition to the pastor, but also to our amazement, one other priest joined us in prayer later.
The priests working in neighboring parishes decided to greet the Czestochowa icon together. Seldom have so many priests been at the altar together at the same time. It is always a great joy, especially in such a small village--says Diana Stanko, the coordinator of the pilgrimage of the icon in Latvia.
The next surprise was stopping with the icon by a small Orthodox chapel at the side of the road. There is no Catholic church in this area, so the Orthodox pastor agreed to allow Catholics to say Mass in this chapel. People from the area, both Catholic and Orthodox, came to venerate the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Many cars passed by that road during the prayers, the drivers slowing down astonished by the unprecedented situation.
At the next stop in Cesvaine the pastor, Andrzej Kozakiewicz, recalled that the Mother of God is the path to her Son, Jesus. He also noted how important it is to constantly remind the faithful of the value of human life.
In Madona, the unusually energetic pastor Fr. Ryszard Rasnacis, came up with the idea of arranging for all the residents to meet with Our Lady and to this end he used the recently opened chapel in the very center of town. Later, the icon was brought to the church for evening prayer and witness. That meeting generated a truly moving atmosphere.
At the end of the day there was a really great and joyful surprise. Diana writes--we received the unexpected news that the Metropolitan of the Latvian Orthodox Church, Aleksander, gave his blessing to the pilgrimage of the Czestochowa icon through Latvia! What the coordinator of the pilgrimage could not accomplish during three months of preparation, the Mother of God arranged in three days!