On December 8, as the Year of Mercy will officially be opened, hundreds of thousands in Chile will visit the Lo Vasquez Shrine to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, taking part in one of the well-attended pilgrimages in the country. This year’s pilgrimage events are based on the theme “Mother of Life, Mother of Mercy.” On Nov. 29 the pilgrimage’s traditional religious dance festival took place. In this festival, the faithful renewed their promises to the Mother of God alongside dancers and musicians.
Nuestra Señora Purísima, the Immaculate Lady of Lo Vasquez, is a Marian devotion that dates back to 1850 in Valparaiso, Chile. On Dec. 7 and 8, the shrine draws almost one million faithful to central Chile. People come from different parts of the country in a pilgrimage that will conclude Chile’s month of Mary.
Pope Francis called for the year of Mercy last April, and two of the major actions were pilgrimage and penance, and really seeking to know God as the God of mercy”.
Specially designated Holy Doors at churches around the world are connected to plenary indulgences for pilgrims during the church year.
Preparations for the feast of the Immaculate Virgin started since Sunday Nov.29 with a Novena honoring the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception recognizes that God chose the Virgin Mary to be conceived without sin. It was proclaimed on Dec. 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus, formalizing the long-held Catholic belief.
Father Marcelino Toro, chaplain at the Shrine of the Immaculate Virgin of Lo Vasquez told CNA that the pilgrimage is “primarily an encounter with someone you love.”
“And from that encounter one feels complete contentment, happy to have done something good. This full encounter is with Mary, the Mother who shows us Jesus as the only way, truth and life,” Fr. Toro added.
Bishop of Valparaiso, Gonzalo Duarte will open the Holy Door of the Shrine of the Immaculate Virgin and lead the solemn procession with the statue of the Virgin.
An increased number of priests will also be available to hear confessions of pilgrims and they will be able to attend one of many Masses which will start from midnight to 7 Pm on Dec.8
Pope Francis is urging people to open the Churches and for people to come and really experience that God’s mercy in Jesus.
There are seven official Holy Doors in the world, four located in Rome, two in Europe and one in Canada.
Holy Doors, or porta santa, are closed shut from the inside and opened only for a Jubilee Year, during which pilgrims are invited to walk through and attain a plenary indulgence attached to the jubilee.