The main organizer of Italy’s March for Life hopes that its location in Rome means it has global influence by sending “a message to the whole Christian world.”
“This event is very important for us and it gives a worldwide impact since it is in Rome. And I think in the future it could be the most important one,” said Virginia Coda Nunziante, organizer of Italy’s March for Life.
“Rome is the seat of Christianity and to host this here is important because it gives a message to the whole Christian world,” she remarked May 12 during the annual March for Life.
Sunday’s demonstration was the third time the Italian March for Life was held and the second time it took place in Rome.
Some news accounts reported around 40,000 participants for the demonstration, but CNA’s staff on the ground estimated the crowd at around 20,000 marchers.
The annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. regularly draws crowds in the hundreds of thousands that are underreported in the American media.
The most recent march, which took place on January 25, drew around 400,000 people, with about 80 percent of those demonstrators being young people, according to organizers.
People from the United States, Europe and Africa gathered on May 12 outside the Coliseum where they heard from pro-life advocates before beginning their route to Castel Sant’Angelo.
After completing their march, they joined thousands of pilgrims at Saint Peter’s Square who were there for a canonization ceremony and Pope Francis’ weekly Regina Caeli address.
The pro-life marchers were not disappointed, since the Pope greeted them in particular.
“I greet the participants of the March for Life which took place this morning in Rome and invite everyone to stay focused on the important issue of respect for human life, from the moment of conception,” he said.
However, contrary to some news reports, the Pope did not join the march but made a brief trip in the popemobile outside of St. Peter’s Square, as he has done in recent weeks. Participants in the march were at the end of his route and had the chance to see Pope Francis.
The event was organized by several Italian pro-life groups and featured well-known speakers, such as the president of the U.S. March for Life, Jeanne Monahan, pro-life activist Lila Rose, and the Mayor of Rome, Giovanni Alemanno.
“We would like to spread the culture of life in Italy so this is an occasion to get all of Italy’s associations and groups together to say a clear ‘yes’ to life and ‘no’ to abortion,” said march organizer Coda Nunziante.
Italy legalized abortion in 1978, leading to the deaths of six million babies between then and now, according to Coda Nunziante.
But Italians were not the only ones present, since groups from Poland, France, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Albania and Nigeria also traveled to Rome to defend the unborn.
“This is very important for Italians to understand that abortion is a worldwide problem, so we all have to be tied together in order to have a wider impact,” she said.
A pro-life group from Szczecin, which is very active in Poland, also participated in last year’s march in Rome.
“We shouldn’t only demonstrate defending life in Poland but in the whole world because life is the most important value, it is global and universal,” said Alicia Kanselarcik outside the Coliseum.
Alan Holdren contributed to this report from Rome.