Marie-Claude Lalonde, the national director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada (ACN), attended Pope Francis' blessing of an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Sorrows and Consoler of the Syrian People, this past Sunday, September 15. The ceremony took place at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. The icon will be carried through 34 dioceses in Syria—as a sort of pilgrimage—offered for the veneration of the faithful along it’s path intended to finish in Damascus, in May 2020.
“It is a great joy for me to have participated in this event which took place just before the Sunday Angelus,” said a joyful Marie-Claude Lalonde on the other end of the line. “This blessing is a pure joy as we are at the very heart of ACN’s mission: providing pastoral support to Christians who are in need.” And she adds: “This initiative touches on every one of the calls for peace that Pope Francis has launched to put a stop to the abominable conflict that has caused so much suffering for Syrian civilians. With this gesture he has reaffirmed with strength his support of the Syria population broken by war.”
Pilgrimage of the icon: For the healing of hearts
This icon of Our Lady of Sorrows was written last August by Father Spiridon Kabbash of Homs and will be presented for the veneration of the faithful in 34 dioceses of Syria, likely until May 31, 2020.
“The blessing of an icon can seem inconsequential to secularized societies like our own,” explains Mrs. Lalonde. “But in Syria, religious traditions are still present in public and social society and these gestures—such as to write an icon, bless it and offer it for veneration by the faithful for a period of nine months is a veritable balm, immense and almost essential for all Christians who are wounded by this filthy war, they who have survived through over eight years of fratricidal conflict.”
“Finally, I greeted the Pope in the name of all Canadian benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need Canada,” says Mrs. Lalonde in closing.
The Pope’s message to the families who will accompany the icon is: “You are not alone; we are with you.”
Meanwhile in Syria, the 6,000 rosaries blessed by Pope Francis one month ago were distributed throughout Syrian parishes as part of a larger prayer campaign for and with the Syrian people called Console my People, an initiative promoted by Aid to the Church in Need and the Syrian Churches.
For more information: Aid to the Church in Need