09/12/2023, 11.44
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Pilgrimage to Mariamabad to rediscover harmony between Christians and Muslims

by Shafique Khokhar

The faithful arrived at the shrine by different means from all over the country to offer gifts and prayers. The event, which lasted three days from 8 to 10 September, was attended by hundreds of people. According to Fr. Khalid Rashid Asi, the shrine is the best place to "open one's heart to Mary".

Mariamabad (AsiaNews) - If on the one hand the repercussions of the Jaranwala violence continue in Pakistan, in the district of Faisalabad, where after the attack on six churches and numerous homes, Christians continued to be targeted, on the other hand there are examples of peaceful coexistence and interreligious dialogue, such as the 74th pilgrimage to the Marian sanctuary of Mariamabad which saw Christians and Muslims walking together.

It began on September 8 and ended on the 10th and was attended by hundreds of thousands of people, including bishops, priests and nuns.

Pilgrims arrived at the Madonna's cave from all over the country, some by train, some by motorbike, some by truck and some even on foot to show their devotion to Mary, a figure venerated in Christianity but also in Islam.

At the sanctuary the pilgrims sang hymns, offered flowers and prayers, the Madonna's cave was covered with colored cloths and clothes, while the children paraded bringing gifts to the altar. For all three days of the event the sanctuary celebrated Holy Mass.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Najam Munir, 46, a Christian, declared: "I have been visiting the sanctuary for eight years," Najam Munir, a 46-year-old Christian, told AsiaNews. "When my only son was five years old he couldn't speak, so my mother suggested that I visit the sanctuary and pray before the Madonna. I cried in front of mother Maria. I came home and I mean it: within a week my baby started talking. Maria did that miracle in my life and now thank my God he is a student and leads a healthy life. Since then I have come on pilgrimage to the sanctuary every year"

“I don't know the year I started visiting this sanctuary,” said Nasreen Bibi, a 65-year-old Christian woman. “But I can tell you exactly how I feel about it and it's peace. I have witnessed a lot of serenity in my life thanks to the peace that Our Lady has granted me. Now I am a grandmother and I always come with my family to greet our Mother for her blessings and teachings. I pray to Mary to bring peace throughout the country and put an end to violence and hatred among the people.”

Fr. Khalid Rashid Asi, addressing those who had taken part in the pilgrimage, said: "I am here to open my heart before Mother Mary, because this is the best place to do it. Mother Mary is a teacher for us who teaches us to live life and dedicate ourselves to the happiness of Jesus Christ. She is the first who asked her son for His first miracle and guided him; she did it because she has empathy, love and feelings for others. We are light for others and let us spread the message of peace, solidarity and love throughout the world as Mary did throughout her life.”

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