Pilgrims are once again being welcomed to attend Skaro in person to pray.
The Skaro Pilgrimage will be held Aug. 14, the vigil for the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the evening, pilgrims made their way around the stone grotto at the Skaro Shrine in a candlelit procession to consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary.
Skaro, about an hour’s drive northeast of Edmonton, was designated as the Edmonton Archdiocese’s first official Marian shrine in 2018. It was built on the grounds of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, the grotto was largely initiated by Oblate priest Father Anthony Sylla, modelled after the Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in France, and built by parishioners in 1919. Since then, visitors have flocked to the site for the annual pilgrimage.
Normally thousands of pilgrims arrive in buses, recreational vehicles and cars to attend the pilgrimage. Due to the COVID-10 pandemic, the annual pilgrimage was cancelled last year for the first time in more than 100 years.
This year’s pilgrimage begins with confessions from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by the praying of the rosary. Vespers will then be sung in Polish, the mother tongue of the settlers who built the stone grotto in 1919 – followed by Mass in English.
“It’s an opportunity for us as faithful and to thank Our Lady for her intercession, especially as we come out of COVID,” said Rev. Carlos Nunez, who serves as the pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The shrine sits on the parish grounds.
Pilgrims are asked to bring their own chair and food if needed. Water will be available for purchase. More information is available on the Our Lady of the Angels website.
The 2018 designation as a Marian shrine was part of a larger effort to increase devotion to Jesus Our Lord through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The decision stems from last year’s celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, when bishops across the country consecrated their dioceses on July 1 to the protection of the Blessed Virgin.
The centennial pilgrimage was also commemorated with the installation of the new rosary garden — a stone walkway beside the shrine, surrounded with plaques marking different decades and mysteries of the rosary, and is marked with black tiles that represent individual rosary beads.