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Mother Angelica’s shrine fills to capacity as National Eucharistic Pilgrimage passes through

Mother Angelica’s shrine fills to capacity as National Eucharistic Pilgrimage passes through

By Peter Pinedo

“I live because of the Eucharist,” Mother Angelica once said.

The foundress of EWTN and member of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, Mother Angelica made no secret of her love and devotion to the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

On Thursday, more than eight years after her death, the legacy of Mother Angelica’s Eucharistic love was on full display as pilgrims along the St. Juan Diego Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage stopped at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, which she founded and where she is buried.

The shrine was filled beyond capacity by hundreds of religious and lay faithful of all ages, including many families.

Members of the St. Juan Diego Route of National Eucharistic Pilgrimage team smile for a photo during a stop at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, on June 20, 2024. Credit: EWTN

Those attending participated in a Eucharistic procession despite temperatures in the 90s. The procession began at the shrine’s Marian grotto and ended at the main church, where there was a healing service that included a reflection by Father John Eckert of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, on the role of shame in the Christian life.

Eckert said that shame serves as a guardrail helping Christians to differentiate good from evil and stay on the right path. This guardrail, however, can become distorted when Christians fall short and the devil twists shame, telling us: “How dare you miss this guardrail!” in attempts to further separate them from God.

But God comes to remind us not to believe the devil’s lies but to release us from those lies, Eckert said.

Built in 1999 and on 400 acres of land, the shrine serves as the chapel for the cloistered Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, which houses the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration.

Members of the St. Juan Diego Route of National Eucharistic Pilgrimage team smile for a photo during a stop at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, on June 20, 2024. Credit: EWTN

The shrine, renowned for its tranquil beauty and as the resting place of Mother Angelica, attracts pilgrims from around the globe. Located in northern Alabama, the shrine marked the halfway point for the Juan Diego Route and served as a place of much-needed respite, with the pilgrims spending several days in private prayer and retreat before Thursday’s event.

The eight Juan Diego “Perpetual Pilgrims” — five young men and women, two seminarians, and a religious brother — began their journey at the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, on May 19. Since then, they have trekked over 1,000 miles, passing through four states and 12 dioceses.

The Juan Diego pilgrims will finish their journey on July 16 in Indianapolis, where they will join pilgrims from the three other routes and thousands of faithful for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress.

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