More than 2.7 million people gathered in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, to celebrate the Divine Shepherdess Virgin in a grand procession. The event, marked by peace and religious devotion, traces its origins back to 1703 in Seville, Spain. The Virgin Mary, depicted as a shepherdess protecting her flock, symbolizes her role in safeguarding her Son’s followers. The procession included a Devotional Race with 44,000 runners and culminated in a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Mariano Parra, emphasizing the importance of living for Christ. Venezuelan bishops, in their 121st Ordinary Plenary Assembly, urged the nation to work towards peace, justice, and solidarity amidst economic, humanitarian, immigration, education, and corruption challenges.
Divine Shepherdess Virgin Procession Draws Massive Crowd
Barquisimeto, Venezuela – In a remarkable display of faith and devotion, more than 2.7 million people gathered in the city of Barquisimeto in Lara state, Venezuela, on Sunday, Jan. 14, to accompany the image of the Divine Shepherdess Virgin in a procession, as reported by state governor Adolfo Pereira. He noted that the event was marked by a positive atmosphere, characterized by “peace, calm, and the religiosity of the people.”
The devotion to the Divine Shepherdess Virgin has a rich history, dating back to 1703 in Seville, Spain. It all began when a Capuchin friar witnessed a vision of the Virgin Mary dressed as a shepherdess, holding a shepherd’s crook and surrounded by sheep. In the vision, an angel intervened to protect a stray sheep from a wolf with an arrow. Inspired by this vision, the friar commissioned a painting and began spreading devotion to Our Lady under this avocation. Eventually, this devotion made its way to Spanish America, including Venezuela.
The image of the Divine Shepherdess represents Mary’s role in protecting her Son’s followers from evil, with “Divine” signifying her excellence in this role.
This year’s procession commenced with the traditional Divine Shepherdess Devotional Race, which saw approximately 44,000 runners covering a six-mile course. The route passed by iconic city landmarks before reaching St. Rose Church, where the procession began.
The image of the Virgin was carried for over four miles throughout the day, from St. Rose Church to the metropolitan cathedral of Barquisimeto. There, Archbishop Emeritus Mariano Parra celebrated Mass in honor of the image. In his homily, Parra emphasized the significance of this annual event, stating, “It’s no coincidence that this procession has been held 166 times, and every time, the number of people accompanying the Divine Shepherdess increases, making it one of the largest manifestations of Marian devotion in the world.”
Parra called on the faithful to understand God’s will through the Divine Shepherdess and urged them to live solely for Christ’s service, as this is their purpose. He concluded by asking the Divine Shepherdess to lead them to her Son, Jesus Christ, and inspire them to spread love, justice, and peace throughout the world.
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In a separate development, the 121st Ordinary Plenary Assembly of the Venezuelan bishops concluded on Jan. 12. During this assembly, the prelates examined the current national situation and the challenges facing the country and the Catholic Church in the coming year.
Following their meeting, the bishops released a pastoral exhortation, urging all Venezuelans to actively work towards peace, justice, and fraternal solidarity. They emphasized the need to build bridges of understanding and coexistence.
The bishops also drew attention to urgent national issues such as economic challenges, humanitarian concerns, immigration, education, and corruption. They expressed deep concern that there appears to be little interest in seeking institutional solutions to these problems.
In reference to the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for this year, the prelates called for a serious, sincere, and committed dialogue and negotiation between the government and various sectors of national life.
In their concluding remarks, the bishops extended their best wishes for the year 2024, expressing hope that with the collective efforts of all citizens and institutions, Venezuela could move towards a future marked by dialogue, unity, and the realization of shared aspirations.
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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.