August 15 Confirms Return to Marian Devotion

PARIS, AUG 16 (ZENIT).- This past weekend, on the feast of the Assumption,
the 2,000 Marian shrines in France were the scene of record attendance.
200,000 people came to pray, at the 50 most important shrines. What is
interesting, is that no special activity was planned; it was simply a desire
to participate in a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Lourdes alone
welcomed over 35,000 pilgrims. The Marian celebrations were even given
national television news coverage.

Intimacy with Mary
The rectors of the French shrines agree that there is a clear tendency among
persons seeking "close relations" to come to these shrines. They find this
intimacy in the figure of Mary. Once again, this love for the Virgin Mary,
which seemed to almost forgotten after the Second Vatican Council and the
eruptions of 1968, is felt strongly among Catholics and "new converts," be
they newly
baptized adults or persons rediscovering their faith.

The French have a real weakness for Mary. According to a survey made by
"Pèlerin Magazine," 40% of the population pray regularly to the Virgin Mary
invoke her protection; 17% regularly entrust her with their cares; 11% state
they like making group, family or private pilgrimages to a Marian center.
What is more, the private pilgrimage is a veritable social novelty in

They come to confide their worries, their loneliness, their anxiety about
the future before Our Lady's image
. (Image of the Beast) "People, increasingly, have fewer and fewer places where they can express their wounds. They can come here and
hand them to the Virgin, even through their tears," Fr. Louis de Pontbriand,
rector of the La Salette shrine, said.

This increase in the number of pilgrims is reflected in the effort made by
the shrines to offer better conditions of welcome and listening. "People are
very happy to find someone they can speak with. We are here to give them
a word of help," Fr. Pontbriand explained.

Presents of God ministry