Mosaic tiles depicting the Immaculate Conception and various saints can be seen in the Trinity Dome at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia invites all parishioners to join a pilgrimage to the shrine on Saturday, October 15. (CNS Photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Hundreds of worshipers from the region are preparing to travel to the nation’s capital this weekend, with Mary as their tour guide for a deeper relationship with Christ.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will host a pilgrimage on October 15 to the National Shrine Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The one-day gathering, sponsored by the Office of Divine Worship and the Cathedral Basilica SS. Peter and Paul, will be led by Bishop Nelson Pérez, principal celebrant and preacher of the 2:30 p.m. Mass in honor of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.

Before the liturgy, pilgrims will join in common prayer at 11 a.m., followed by the recitation of the Rosary, confessions, Eucharistic adoration and a procession and crowning of a statue of Mary.

The pilgrimage theme highlights the deep connection between Mary and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, said Fr. Dennis Gill, cathedral rector and director of the Office of Divine Worship.

“Mary’s holy womb is the original tabernacle of the Word made flesh, which for us today is the Most Blessed Sacrament,” he said. “We ask Mary to give us a deeper faith in the presence of her divine Son in his holy Body and Blood.”

Emphasis is placed on concordance with the recently launched National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year effort by US Catholic bishops to reawaken belief in and devotion to the Real Presence.

This belief, at the heart of the Catholic faith, has diminished considerably in recent decades. A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that only about a third (31%) of Catholics in the United States said they believe in transubstantiation, the change by which bread and wine at Mass, after being consecrated, become the Body and Blood of Christ. .

An overwhelming majority (69%) of those polled said the bread and wine simply symbolized Christ. Most of these respondents did not actually know that transubstantiation was actually a church teaching. Among those who know the doctrine, 22% nevertheless reject the idea.

Mary can counter such tendencies, as she serves as a “role model who carried God Himself, so that we too can do so with faith and devotion each time we receive Holy Communion,” Fr. Gill said.

The pilgrimage, as a “sacramental and deeply spiritual occasion”, can rekindle the fervor of the faithful, he added.

The effort to get to the basilica signals “our ever-present movement with Christ, which is the way to eternal life,” Fr. Gill said.

Once there, “we have the opportunity to commune with Christ, especially with the celebration of the sacraments,” he said.

The trip can help reassure pilgrims about the closeness of the Lord in their daily lives, Fr. Gill added.

“I hope and pray that participants will have a great sense of the power of Jesus at work in their Christian lives and of Mary’s closeness to them in her prayers,” he said.


For detailed information on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s 2022 pilgrimage, visit the event’s website or view the flyer.