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Divine Shepherdess procession in Venezuela draws 2.7 million

More than 2.7 million people gathered in the city of Barquisimeto in Lara state, Venezuela, on Sunday, Jan. 14, to accompany the image of the Divine Shepherdess Virgin in a procession, reported state governor Adolfo Pereira in post on X.

Pereira commented that there was a very positive atmosphere at the gathering, “where peace, calm, and the religiosity of the people reigned.”

According to, the devotion traces back to 1703 in Seville, Spain, when a Capuchin friar saw the Virgin Mary dressed as a shepherdess holding a shepherd’s crook. She was surrounded by some sheep, but one that had strayed was pursued by a wolf, which the Archangel Michael dispatched with an arrow.

The friar commissioned a painting depicting what he saw and began to spread devotion to Our Lady under this avocation, which eventually was carried to Spanish America and to Venezuela in particular.

The image is taken to represent Mary’s role in protecting the flock of her Son from the evil one. “Divine” is taken in the sense of “most excellent.”

This year’s procession began early with the traditional Divine Shepherdess Devotional Race. Approximately 44,000 runners ran the six-mile course, which went past the most iconic places in the city until reaching St. Rose Church, the starting point of the procession.

The image of the Virgin was processed more than four miles throughout the day, from St. Rose Church to the metropolitan cathedral of Barquisimeto, where the archbishop emeritus of Coro, Mariano Parra, celebrated the Mass for the reception of the image.

“It’s no coincidence that this procession has been held 166 times, and every [time] the number of people accompanying the Divine Shepherdess increases, thus becoming one of the largest manifestations [of Marian devotion] in the world,” Parra said in his homily.

Read more at Catholic News Agency 

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