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Photo: Felix Carroll

Once again, Eden Hill will host a full week of activities honoring the Blessed Mother during Marian Week, Aug. 15-22.

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By Dan Valenti (Aug 6, 2008)

On Aug. 15, 1954, the Cleveland Indians were running away with the American League pennant, President Dwight Eisenhower was guiding the nation through an icy Cold War with the Soviet Union, and a young, Tennessee truck driver named Elvis was charting in the South with a hit called "That's All Right, Mama."

On that same date, a significant spiritual event occurred on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass., when the Congregation of Marian Helpers celebrated its first Marian Week to honor the Blessed Mother. The Marians were following the lead of the Church in sponsoring this new event, which Pope Pius XII instituted a few years before as a means of encouraging parishes and congregations to honor Our Lady.

One hundred years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX, in his apostolic letter Infallibus Deus, urged "all the children of the Catholic Church ... to invoke and pray to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin, and let them fly with entire confidence to this most sweet Mother of Mercy and Grace, in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts, and fears. For nothing is to be feared, and nothing is to be despaired under her guidance."

These words define the inspiration behind Marian Week and also attest to its spirit of "invoking and praying to Mary." Marian Week 2008 begins on Friday, Aug. 15, on the feast of the Assumption and ends Friday, Aug. 22, with the feast of the Queenship of Mary. Each day features a Rosary procession, confessions, Mass, and praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.

The chief aim of Marian Week, according to Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill, is to offer a time and place where the faithful can gather in a spirit of penance and prayer to express their love for the Blessed Mother. He says it's also for those who want to strengthen their relationship to Mary or — for those who don't know her at all — even become introduced to her.

"This year marks the 150th anniversary of the 'Beautiful Lady' who appeared to Bernadette in the Massabielle grotto in Lourdes," says Fr. Anthony. "Our Lady emphasized to Bernadette the importance of peace and prayer, and how the two were related. Today, those needs are just as urgent, maybe more so."

Father Anthony reminded pilgrims of the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and the Immaculate Conception Candle Shrine on the beautiful grounds of the aptly named Eden Hill. "Certainly, the occasion for abundant prayer can be found in the peace and tranquility of the shrine, as well as all throughout Eden Hill."

The grounds have picnic tables for families and groups that want to bring their refreshments. Pilgrims also might be interested in the vast array of cultural and recreational activities to be found in the Berkshires in August. Busses or large groups are encouraged to notify the National Shrine's pilgrimage office in advance by calling 413- 298-1118.

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