There was a climate “of contagious joy,” due to the number of young people who “participated a lot in prayer, singing, and daily Mass,” the priest shared.
“There was a spiritual atmosphere, but we also played the guitar, and since there are kids from other countries, they talked about soccer and they observed their local customs, some that we know and others that we’re learning about in the daily interchange, in an atmosphere of wonderful communion,” he recounted.
At the last stop before arriving at Bellavista, Argentine pilgrim Tomás Ugarte gave his testimony on social media: “I am counting the kilometers to get there, my heart starts pounding, you can begin to sense the Bellavista Shrine is there; [I’m] very happy there’s no more to go.”
Vicente, a young Chilean, was thankful for the “very great” affection they experienced during this time together. “Thanking the Blessed Mother for what this crusade has been like and to meet Jesus, with this tremendous energy and love for God that we have,” he commented.
Matías Estigarribia from Paraguay shared: “Excited, happy to arrive after much suffering, wanting to arrive and give to the Blessed Mother all the sacrifice and dedication that we made during these days.”
When they reached the doors of the shrine, the “crusaders” sang and waved the flags of their countries.
History of the Crusade for Mary
The pilgrimage has its origin in an international meeting of the Boys’ Youth of the Schoenstatt Movement, which was held in 1999 in Bellavista, Chile.
As an activity prior to the gathering, there was a pilgrimage on foot that started from the shrine in Mendoza and crossed the Andes mountain range through Christ the Redeemer pass.
The purpose was to symbolize the magnitude of the event that they were about to celebrate, with the particular stamp of the Boys’ Youth, and covering the route that the troops of Generals José de San Martín and Bernardo O’Higgins made in their struggle for the independence of their nations from colonial Spain.
The future Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, visited the Schoenstatt Movement’s Bellavista Shrine in 1988.
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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.