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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

092917 jesus pilgrim HUNTERSVILLE — For nine months, eight St. Mark families met the first Sunday of each month to pray the novena in honor of the Divine Child Jesus. Their prayer effort culminated Sept. 3, when 63 parishioners went on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, in Hanceville, Ala., where a shrine to the Divine Child Jesus is located.

In 1914, Salesian Father Juan del Rizzo started the devotion to the Divine Child Jesus in Colombia. While kneeling in prayer one day, Father del Rizzo decided to entrust his efforts to the Infant Jesus. He developed a simple image of the Christ Child depicted with open arms, as if ready to hug everybody, wearing a pink dress and bare footed.

Father del Rizzo then built a shrine in honor of the Divine Child Jesus in Bogota, the capital of Colombia. This devotion and the work that was started continues today, helping children and disadvantaged families buy groceries with donations from pilgrims. At Christmas, many gifts among poor families in the region are also distributed with these donations.

Devotion to the Divine Child Jesus came to Hanceville after Poor Clare Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, better known as Mother Angelica and the founder of EWTN, visited the shrine in Bogota. While she faced the image, Mother Angelica later recalled, the Child Jesus came to life and told her: “Build me a temple and I will help those who help you.” Upon her return home, Mother Angelica continued in prayer along with the nuns of her community, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. Their prayers were answered with a very generous financial contribution from five families who anonymously helped to build the monastery and shrine in honor of the Divine Child Jesus.

In September 2014, St. Mark Parish’s first pilgrimage was organized with 12 people at the invitation of the Martinez-Gaona family, who had been visiting the shrine for five consecutive years for the celebration of the Feast of the Divine Child Jesus, also known as Divino Niño de Bogotá or Divino Niño.

092917 Child Jesus pilgrimageThat same year, 14 parishioners attended a couples’ retreat, wishing to live and grow closer to this beautiful place. They decided to continue with the devotion, praying the Divine Child Jesus novena every first Sunday of the month, with the desire to invite more people to join the pilgrimage. In September of that year, 24 people went on the pilgrimage to Hanceville, and the number of people attending the annual pilgrimage each September continues to grow.

Learn more about the devotion to the Divine Child Jesus and the shrine in Hanceville online at www.olamshrine.com.

Lina Maria Hernandez, Special to the Catholic News Herad. Lina Maria Hernandez helps to organize St. Mark Church’s pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Ala.