On April 30, 2023, the traditional procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, known as Taalat al-Adra (the Ascent of the Virgin), took place in the city of Haifa (Israel). Every year, a 900 kg statue, mounted for procession on a car without engine, is drawn by men and women from St Joseph’s Carmelite parish church up the side of Mt Carmel to the Stella Maris Carmelite monastery on top.
This tradition dates back to the First World War: when Turkish soldiers gave the Carmelite Fathers three hours to evacuate the Stella Maris monastery on the top of Mount Carmel. They left with only a few archival documents and the statue of Our Lady. At the end of the war, on April 27, 1919, the statue was returned to the monastery in procession, to thank the Virgin Mary for protecting the city during the war.
This year, after the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, about 3,000 people from Palestine and Israel took part in the procession. In a festive atmosphere, the faithful walked the three kilometres from the parish, then the 130 metres of rather steep ascent, singing psalms and hymns in honour of the Virgin Mary. Several leaders of various Churches were present, including the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Msgr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
In front of the Stella Maris Monastery, the Patriarch presided over the final prayers. He stressed the need for vocations to consecrated life for the Church and asked the Virgin Mary to intercede so that the Lord protects all Christian families.
Photo credits: © Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem