The Central Pilgrimage Statue Tour began with an afternoon ceremony May 1 in front of Windsor, Ont.’s Peace Fountain. Photo by Paul McNamara

Marian tours criss-cross the nation

By 
  • May 8, 2022

With the famed Detroit River as a uniting backdrop, replica Pilgrim Virgin Statues of Our Lady of the Cape (Cap-de-la-Madeleine) and Fatima intersected on opposite sides of the Windsor-Detroit border on May 1 for a special Rosary for world peace and consecration to the Blessed Mother.

The celebration for Our Lady of the Cape at Windsor, Ont.’s scenic Peace Fountain launched a 2022 Central Pilgrim Statue Tour. Over seven weeks, the Marian Shrine replica from Cap-de-la-Madeleine will be showcased throughout many Ontario and Quebec parishes. This tour concludes with a gathering at the actual Our Lady of the Cape shrine in Trois-Rivières on June 22, the 75th anniversary of the 1947 Marian Congress in Ottawa.

While the central excursion is exclusively featuring in Canada’s two largest provinces, a 12-day Eastern Pilgrim Statue Tour throughout Atlantic Canada was initiated at Église catholique Sainte-Anne Catholic Church near Yarmouth, N.S., on May 4. Meanwhile, Our Lady of the Cape replicas graced St. Emile Church in St. Boniface, Man., and St. Patrick Church in Calgary on May 1, a multi-city opening for a sprawling Western Pilgrim Statue Tour expected to conclude around Canada Day.

Dennis Girard, co-director of the national Marian Devotional Movement (MDM) alongside his wife Angelina, has hopes for what these tours will accomplish.

“The vision is that post-pandemic, Mary wants to visit her children to give them an opportunity to consecrate or re-consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to be written into the story she is authoring today, which is the renewal of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary,” said Girard.

Each parish visit throughout Canada will be infused with its own unique identity to some extent. However, the MDM encourages three rites to occur at every ceremony to foster the tour’s nationwide identity and purpose.

First, there will be a collective prayer to stir increased consecration to the Blessed Mother. Second, all attendees will be invited to enroll in the confraternity. Third, roses will be blessed as a symbolic act of devotion, grace, gratitude and healing.

Barring a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 cases, necessitating the return of strict public health restrictions, every destination scheduled during one of the three Canadian tours will be unconstrained by capacity limits.

From Jan. 6 to Feb. 28, the MDM community staged a Canada54 Novena to expressly pray to Mary for her to intercede so “there will be no need for mandates and other measures that separate and divide your children” during the tour.

“Our Canada54 Novena was certainly answered because two days after our novena ended, restrictions were lifted and we got to complete 40 hours of eucharistic adoration at Canada’s National Marian Shrine with no restrictions,” said Girard.

The Girards will be “custodians” of the replica statue throughout the Ontario and Quebec tour. Participants in the novena from coast-to-coast volunteered to be caretakers for Our Lady of the Cape during the Atlantic Canada or Western Canada pilgrimages.

Girard said many of the host parishes plan on screening the documentary Bridge of Roses: The Story of Our Lady of the Cape, directed by Kevin Dunn, and championed every step of the way by MDM. Released on Oct. 7, 2021 to commemorate the 450th anniversary of Our Lady of the Rosary, Bridge of Roses illuminates the miracles and spiritual community formation manifested at Cap-de-la-Madeleine because of Mary’s intercession. The 1879 Miracle of the Ice Bridge is the climax of this feature.

One of the expected tour highlights over next two months is the St. Michael Sword appearing alongside the Marian statue at St. Mary’s Parish in London, Ont., from May 16-17. Girard expressed enthusiasm that Bishop William McGrattan of Calgary will offer a special blessing for Our Lady of the Cape at St. Mary’s Cathedral before its 100 km trek northward to the ornate Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Rockies in Canmore.

For more details, see visitationproject.org/collections/75th-anniversary-1947-marian-congress.

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