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The pilgrimage of Our Lady of Czestochowa through the world for the defense of life, called "From the Ocean to Ocean" - from Vladivostok to Fatima began. For the first time in history it will be ran from east to west through the whole of Asia and Europe.

The historic moment took place on 14 June, when the journey began in Vladivostok, passing through the wilderness of the Far East and Siberia, heading West.

The Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa is being met with great  interest in the Far East. The faithful stand in queues in order to individually greet the Mother of God and kiss the icon. Many tears are shed and a lot of questions are asked. At the same time, meetings, lectures, conferences and pro-life rallies are organized. In Vladivostok the icon was officially greeted in the Orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady of Care (Pokrovskij Sobor), where a special liturgy was celebrated and the Akathist hymn was sung in honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa. From there she visited the main cathedral of Saint Nicholas, then the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to the orthodox web site, several hundred people attended, some of whom came from distant Ussuryjsk and other cities from the so-called Coastal Far East to venerate the Mother of God.   On the third day of the visit, a church-state conference took place on the theme of aid activities and the prevention of abortion and alcoholism. Orthodox Metropolitan Veniamin met with members of the International Committee escorting the icon.

The pro-life route of Our Lady of Czestochowa will pass through 23 countries. They are: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal. The planned route is about 18 thousand km. On Christmas Day the Czestochowa icon will be in Fatima. The pilgrimage probably will continue through next year, arriving  in the United States in the spring, and may go even further. There is great  interest in this activity in South America, Africa and Australia.

Passage through Poland is planned on the dates 12 - 26 August.  She will stop at Jasna Gora (Czestochowa) on August 22, the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and will be at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki on August 25.

We are currently building a special altar on wheels, called "pro-life mobile" to carry the icon behind glass, so that it will be visible along the way. All who wish to support this work, may do so through the Friends of Human Life. http://www.hli.org.pl/drupal/en

The copy of the Czestochowa Icon of Our Lady, dedicated to the peregrination through the world in defense of life, was touched to the original in the Monastery of Jasna Gora in Poland on January28 and solemnly blessed by Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak, Metropolitan of Czestochowa.

The initiators of the pilgrimage are lay defenders of life from different countries under the patronage of an International Organization, Human Life International. They realize that without God's help a victory in the battle against a growing global attack on the civilization of life is not possible. For this reason they started this campaign. At Jasna Gora we announced The Act of Entrusting The Protection Of The Civilization Of Life And Love Into The Hands Of The Most Blessed Virgin Mary. (the text attached).

In the East, pro-life movements are associated with the Orthodox Church; in Poland and Western Europe they have a Catholic character. The great love for the Mother of God, and a robust defense of human life link the two sister Churches. Therefore, Our Lady will be hosted on this journey in both Catholic and Orthodox churches. Today, during her visit to Russia, the Orthodox Church is caring for her.

After the January ceremony at Jasna Gora, the Icon went to Belarus, where she visited the Orthodox parish of St. Nicholas of Japan in Minsk. Then the Icon was ceremonially transferred to Moscow, where she took part in a pro-life car rally on  May 20.  In early June, she went to Kazakhstan in  a  Russian-made van "Gazelle", which was specially purchased for this purpose.  There she was hosted in the Orthodox churches of four cities: Astana, Kokthetav, Petropavlovsk and Pavlodar. From Moscow to Vladivostok – to the shores of the Pacific - she has already driven about eight thousand kilometers and passed through six time zones. Now the pilgrimage is beginning its official journey from Vladivostok to Fatima.

More information about the pilgrimage can be found at: www.fromoceantoocean.org

Ewa H. Kowalewska
Human Life International – Poland
Coordinator of the Pilgrimage "From Ocean To Ocean"

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