The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday afternoon, January 17 to Friday morning, January 18, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. More than 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation will gather at the Shrine to pray for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life, taking place the following day.
The Vigil marks the 46th anniversary of the US Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions legalizing abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.
The principal celebrant and homilist at the Vigil Opening Mass will be Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS, chairman of the US bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Many of the nation's bishops and priests will concelebrate with him in the Basilica's Great Upper Church from 5.30-7.30pm. The Vigil continues in the Crypt Church with confessions, a National Rosary for Life, Byzantine Rite Night Prayer, and Holy Hours led by seminarians throughout the night and into the next morning. Morning Prayer on Friday, January 18, begins at 6am in the Crypt Church, followed by Benediction at 6.30am. The Vigil's Closing Mass will take place at 7.30am in the Great Upper Church, with Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond as principal celebrant and homilist.
"Again, this year, the Vatican has granted that a plenary indulgence may be obtained under the usual conditions by participating in the National Prayer Vigil for Life, as well as the other sacred celebrations surrounding the March for Life," said Kat Talalas, assistant director for pro-life communications at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "This is a special opportunity for grace offered to pilgrims for their witness, prayer, and sacrifice."
For those seeking Sacramental Reconciliation while on site, confessions will be heard in Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel of the Crypt Church over the course of nine hours before and after the Opening Mass. See: www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/national-prayer-vigil-for-life-schedule.cfm for additional details.
"We also invite all the faithful nationwide to join in prayer for Nine Days for Life, from January 14-22," Talalas continued. "Over 100,000 people have already signed up to pray this novena for the respect of human life. Even if you cannot attend the Prayer Vigil or the March, you can always remain united in the cause of life through prayer."
The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.
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