ARGENTINA, Maria Fischer •
A month has already passed since the last “Pilgrimage of Towns and Villages”, the great pilgrimage that for 40 years has connected the wayside shrine of Hasenkamp and all the small towns and villages along the approximately 90-kilometer route to the Schoenstatt Shrine of La Loma in Paraná on the eve of Argentina’s Mother’s Day and shortly before October 18th. The longest pilgrimage on the continent. Thousands of pilgrims. Songs, prayers, torches, flags, emotions, testimonies, press, live coverage in the local media, confessions, transformations… We know it from so many articles. But you have to be in La Loma and listen to find out that this pilgrimage of towns and villages is not an event, but a permanent presence in the memory, commitment and pride of the whole family. —
We enter the large grounds of the Shrine of La Loma, with Tita and Héctor Rios, friends, and correspondents of schoenstatt.org for almost always, and while the parrots give their welcoming concert, Héctor says: “This is where all the pilgrims enter, this is where we welcome them. „The entrance to La Loma is the entrance to the Pilgrimage of the Towns and Villages. This is where they enter. He does not say: “They came on October 14th after a 90 km walk from the wayside shrine in Hasenkamp, after 26 hours of walking”. He says: “This is where they come in.” Always. For 40 years, when it started with two young men. Over the years, this pilgrimage has developed into one of the most popular and numerically largest expressions of popular piety in the country.
We speak to a young couple from Valle María (a town 30 km from La Loma) and talk about the pilgrimage of the towns and villages. We talk to people from the Family Federation and talk about the pilgrimage of the towns and villages. The next day we drive to Nogoyá, about 100 km from Paraná, and the young workers of the wayside shrine’s social work tell us about their experiences with the pilgrimage of the towns and villages. It is omnipresent, it belongs to everyone.
“We are already thinking about the 42nd edition, in which we will once again put the best at the service of the Blessed Mother to go on pilgrimage as brothers and sisters to the shrine of La Loma,” said the organizing team a few days after the pilgrims arrived.
The pilgrim mother on pilgrimage with the holy people of God
Every year on the eve of Mother’s Day, the Blessed Mother – the Mother of God of Schoenstatt – gathers thousands of pilgrims at the wayside shrine in Hasenkamp, who walk the ninety kilometers to the shrine in Paraná in a 26-hour walk. From Hasenkamp, the Pilgrim Mother has been making her way to the Schoenstatt Shrine for 41 years.
Together with the Mother of Jesus, the pilgrims arrive to offer their lives, their prayers, they come to rest, to entrust to her the lives of others, the lives that many carry on the pilgrimage in silence and prayer along the way. Hearing their testimonies touches, moves, awakens, and encourages the faith of many.
There are also many priests on the pilgrimage who pass on the gift of God’s forgiveness and mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation. One of them is Father Pablo Pérez, National Director of the Schoenstatt Movement in Argentina, who has already made four pilgrimages.
In the Shrine, the Schoenstatt Family receives the pilgrims, and everything they have experienced is collected and offered in the Mass at the Pilgrims’ Altar, which was celebrated this year 2023 by the Archbishop of Paraná, Juan Alberto Puiggari.
The pilgrimage of Viviana Biganzoni de Zinoni
However, the 2023 pilgrimage of the towns and villages had a special impact on the La Loma family.
On the afternoon of October 13th, shortly after the departure of the pilgrimage, Viviana Biganzoni de Zinoni, together with her husband Héctor, diocesan coordinators of La Loma, passed away.
She had had a serious accident two weeks earlier while on her way to a meeting of the Mothers’ Movement in Florencio Varela.
During these two weeks, many people from Paraná and all over Argentina prayed every evening via Zoom for Vivi’s recovery.
When the pilgrimage began at 5 pm, Vivi was still alive, and several pilgrims carried a picture of her and offered to walk for her. In the days leading up to the pilgrimage, there had been reports from the hospital in Rosario, where she was in a coma, that she was slowly waking up again. On the day of the pilgrimage, “Vivi woke up, but for heaven,” it was said at the Mass on November 11 in La Loma, where prayers were said for her, her husband, and her children.
“For the La Loma family, it was the greatest capital of grace that the Blessed Mother asked of us,” said Tita Rios. “On Saturday, the 14th, the pilgrimage ended, and we began the wake for Viviana, whose body had already been transferred from Rosario. On Sunday, Mother’s Day, there was Mass and the funeral.”
Capital of Grace for La Loma, Paraná, Argentina and beyond.
We will meet again next year to go together to our Mother, towards a new sunset!️
Video of the arrival of the pilgrims (Héctor Ríos)
Collaboration: Claudia Echenique, Tita and Héctor Ríos
Original: Spanish. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org