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"Rhinoceroses", Rose Petals, Tears and Crowds of People

             Belarus is joyfully receiving the Mother of God, represented in the copy of the Czestochowa Icon which is on a pro-life pilgrimage from Vladivostok to Fatima.  The Belarus portion of the journey "From Ocean to Ocean" is being organized by the "Open Heart" Foundation of Mogilev, which is associated with Human Life International, and the  Orthodox Center for Assisting Pregnant Women "Matula" of  Minsk.  The Blessed Mother's visit is being hosted by the Orthodox Church on the invitation of Filaret, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, the patriarchal exarchy of all of Belarus.

            On 13 and 14 July, the icon visited Polotsk, Vyerchnyedzvinsk, Miory, Sharkovshchyzna and Glebokie.  Everywhere she went, Our Lady was greeted in the traditional manner with bread and salt to the sound of church bells ringing.  Little girls tossed flowers.  People waited a long time for their turn to venerate the icon, which was held in place by priests while the people slowly passed by it on their knees.

            The residents of Lida met the Mother of  God near  the cross at the edge of town.  From there, a column of vehicles with pro-life banners and flags accompanied the icon in procession through the main streets to the Orthodox Church of St. Gregory the Conqueror.   In Grodno, on the other hand, the icon was escorted by members of the "Rhinoceroses" club riding on motorcycles.  With bells ringing, she was brought into the Orthodox Cathedral of the Care of God, where a large crowd awaited her.

            Conferences took place in Polotsk, Vyerchnyedzvinsk, Lida, Grodno, Minsk and Baranoviche for journalists, pedagogs, health service workers and social workers concurrently with prayers in churches.  The conferences broached problems related to the demographic crisis, protection of life and family, and the organization of consultative centers for women with crisis pregnancies.

            In the next few days, the Czestochowa icon will visit Borysov, Mogilev, Shklov, Bobruisk and Homel.  On 23 July it will go to Ukraine, but will return to Belarus on 27 July to take part in the Nationwide Meeting of Catholic Youth in Ivienets.  After that event,  it will be taken to Latvia, where it will be hosted by the local pro-life movement and the Catholic Church.

            During the course of its peregrination through the world in defense of life, the Czestochowa icon has already traveled over 10 thousand kilometers from its starting point in Vladivostok.  Its initial journey from Czestochowa  through Minsk, Moscow, and Kazakhstan to Vladivostok, a distance of about 11 thousand kilometers, should also be counted.  Thus, she has already travelled about 21 thousand kilometers, which includes passing through the Far East, Siberia and the Urals, the European part of Russia, and Belarus.  The remainder of the pilgrimage will pass through 21 countries in Europe and will cover 8-10 thousand kilometers.  It will be in Poland during the period 12 - 26 August.

More information can be found on the website www.fromoceantoocean.org


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