Believers will have the extraordinary opportunity to view a sacred religious icon when it stops Tuesday, May 20, at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville. It is on a 60,000-mile pilgrimage.
In the program “From Ocean to Ocean in Defense of Life,” the replica of the Black Madonna of Czestochowas is traveling from the Pacific coast of Russia through Europe and North America. During the course of its travels, which began in the summer of 2012, the icon will be seen by millions.
The pilgrimage is an initiative of Human Life International to promote its pro-life mission. Ss. Peter and Paul was one of the churches invited to host the icon.
“This is a great honor. We’re delighted to have been invited,” said Ron Frederick who is coordinating the celebration at Ss. Peter and Paul. “This lady is famous. We don’t always get to see replicas. We’re delighted.”
Frederick said that Ss. Peter and Paul was identified as a destination for the icon because of its demographics, beliefs and traditions as well as its dedication to pro-life activities.
“We were targeted as one of the churches partly because Our Lady of Czestochowas is a Polish icon,” he said. “Ss. Peter and Paul has a lot people of Polish origins. And our church is a traditional Catholic church that has been around for a long, long time. ...
“We hold Mary in very high regard. She’s the mother of Jesus Christ. The faithful come to her with their hopes and wishes. The icons are a conduit to her.”
The icon’s visit is more than a symbol, according to Father Peter West, vice president of the organization and chairman of the pilgrimage committee, in a statement from Human Life International .
“This pilgrimage is intended to awaken the faithful about the urgency of defending life from the moment of conception,” West said. “Hundreds of thousands, in venerating the image, have recommitted to restoring a culture of life, while hosting discussions, lectures and contests around the visitation of the icon.
“Truly, our blessed mother, as mediatrix of all grace, is interceding on our behalf with her son, the lord of life, and we will see a return to respect for life and family.”
After welcoming the icon, Ss. Peter and Paul will host several rosary services and a Mass. Frederick expects more than 2,000 people to visit.