ali abid

SHEIKHUPURA – A large number of Christians from across the country and abroad are expected to attend 63rd annual congregation of Ziarat-e-Muqadsa of the Christian community to be held from 7th to 9th at Mariyamabad.  The event has been taking place since 1949. Mariyamabad means the city of Mary. It is in existence for over a century making it one of Pakistan's oldest Catholic settlements. Located about 40 km away from Sheikhupura, the city covers an area of 200 acres. Over one million devotees visit the city every year. Mariyamabad is in remote rural area and in the jurisdiction of Tehsil Safdarabad. The three-day congregation starts with special Dua by Christian leader Sabtain Shah, the Bishop of Lahore. A large number of female students led by Mother Aasia and fathers of Saint Merry School hold candlelight vigil at their religious place. The church was opened for pilgrims in early 50’s with an announcement that Holy Mary has been appeared in the vision of children on a sand mound of the village. Rev. Fr. Frank, a missionary from Belgium, invited Catholic Christians to offer prayers on that particular spot in September. The sand mound was erected with stone hill and decorated with statue of Holly Mary. The villagers donated grains to prepare Langar or free food distribution to the pilgrims during Holy Mary Festival. In 1980, Mariyamabad became famous among Christians throughout the country after stories, like a women who prayed for sons before statue of Holy Mary gave birth to sons with blessing of mother Mary. An unemployed person wished for job during the festival and got employment. A sick person had lost hope to recover from a disease but became well during the festival. Therefore, from across the country, caravans of pilgrims consisting of all Christian sects are increasing every year. The political leaders and social circles of Christians including Senator Kamran Michel, Emanuel Arthur Sindhu, MPA Tahir Khalil, In-charge Security of Mariyamabad Reverend Ashraf Father Gill and a large number of other people participate in the festival for blessing of Holy Mary. The major event of On Foot, thousands of Christians from across the Punjab particularly Lahore, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Nankana, Hafizabad, Faisalabad and Sargodha visit the place.