HAIFA - On Sunday, April 18, 2021, the traditional procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Haifa was not entirely traditional, owing to COVID-19 safety concerns. For the second year in a row, the faithful could not march on foot, alongside their bishop and fellow friends and family, to relive the 1919 procession of bringing back the statue of the Virgin Mary, that had been transferred to the parish church in the city of Haifa in 1914, to its sanctuary of Stella Maris on Mount Carmel.
The yearly march was instead reduced to a car procession slowly passing through the neighborhoods of Haifa, and led by the convoy of His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. In front of his car, the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was placed on the roof of a vehicle driven by Fr. Abdo Abdo, Parish priest of St. Joseph Church and the organizer of the procession for the last 20 years. Along the way, men, women and children were waiting on the sides of the streets or in the comfort of their homes, to catch a glimpse of the procession, greet the passing convoy and ask for the intercession and protection of the Virgin Mary.
The procession concluded at the premises of the Stella Maris Monastery, where a crowd of faithful and Haifa’s Scout groups welcomed the convoy and statue. Before giving his blessing alongside Archbishop Yousef Matta, Patriarch Pizzaballa spoke of the importance of maintaining the tradition of marching behind the Virgin Mary to show everyone “the strength, love and beauty of the Christian community and character in Galilee, here, around our mother the Virgin”.
“During the procession, I saw a lot of people, especially mothers and children,” continued the Bishop of Jerusalem, standing beside his vicars Bishop Marcuzzo and Fr. Hanna Kildani. “Mothers understand the heart of mothers, and today as a Christian community, we bring to the heart of mother the Virgin Mary all our concerns, our expectations, our pain and our hopes. She can protect all our families, our children and the strong community of Galilee”.
Every year, the procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel draws thousands of people from all over the Holy Land. For Anna Karram, from Haifa, the Virgin Mary is “the example I follow in my life, where I yearn to be like her. The procession today is a testament to people’s love for her and how much they want to honor her. I was happy to see that there was still good in this world. I hope that this procession brings joy and peace to all hearts of people through the intercession of our mother the Virgin Mary”.