The National Marian Shrine
Feastday: September 3
is the “city of Mary”, also known as Mariam. In 1949 the Catholic Church
established a Marian shrine in Pakistan, in a bid to better connect Islam with
September 3rd is the day for the annual
Ziarat-e-Muqaddasa Mariam, the annual National Marian Pilgrimage. 500.000
Catholics and Muslim payed a pilgrimage to the shrine of Ziarat-e-Mariam in
Mariamabad in North East Pakistan in 2009.
National Marian Shrine in Mariamabad, Pakistan is a National Shrine and the site
of an annual pilgrimage for the September 8 feast of the birth of Mary. This
event has been taking place since 1949. Mariamabad means city of Mary in the
Mariamabad has existed for over a century
making it one of Pakistan's oldest Catholic settlements. Located about 80 km
from Punjab's capital of Lahore, it covers an area of 835 hectares (2000 acres)
and has become the destination for over one million pilgrims a year.
Mariamabad began in 1892. Observing the
misery and oppression of the newly converted Christians in the district of
Sialkot, Capuchin Bishop Van Den Bosch purchased 150 acres (0.61 km2) of
government land for 650,000 rupees (US$29,545) for Christians to live and work
on. In 1893, three priests and three Christian families moved to the land.
Pilgrims travel by foot, bullock carts,
bicycles, buses and trucks to Mariamabad. The shrine also houses the Church of
St. Mary and St. Joseph established by Belgian Capuchins on December 8, 1898.
A prominent feature of the shrine is the
Marian grotto on a hill where a three-and-a-half-meter statue of Mary stands.
There are stalls selling religious posters
and cards, crosses, rosaries, candles, incense sticks and other religious
objects, as well as cold drinks, food and sweets to cater to the pilgrims that
travel from all over Pakistan and even overseas.
On September 10, 2005, armed men waiting
near the village stopped buses bringing pilgrims and robbed the passengers of
The Catholic National Commission for
Justice and Peace also filed a formal complaint with the police against the
persons who looted buses, manhandled and searched women, and desecrated the
Cross at the pilgrimage.
In September 2005, Catholics from across
Pakistan took part in the country's first-ever National Eucharistic Congress.
More than 100,000 Catholics came to publicly honour the Eucharist during the
three-day event. The event was organised under the guidance of Archbishop
Lawrence Saldanha, of Lahore who is president of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of Pakistan.
In 2006, the Parish priest was Father
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