Paraphrasing our Father and Founder and author of “The Glories of Mary”, we could begin these lines by saying: “Beloved Redeemer and my Lord Jesus Christ, we unworthy servants of yours, knowing how pleased you are with those who seek to glorify your Most Holy Mother, whom you love so much and wish so much to see loved and honoured by all, have thought of publishing this little article which speaks of her glories”.
First of all, one could notice that Albania is not really a ‘Land of Mary Most Holy’, since its inhabitants, even non-Catholics, profess a great devotion to St. Anthony of Padua, promoted by the Franciscans for centuries.
As we arrived in Albania, faithful to the Redemptorist tradition and the heritage of St. Alphonsus, we have taken from the first day the care of the devotion to the Holy Mother of God. Actually, She arrived in Albania first: we have found her in the house of the Missionaries of Charity, in the school of the Daughters of Christ the King, etc. Then we have enthroned her holy Icon in our churches.
On the occasion of the foundation of our mission in Albania, the interprovincial Redemptorist community received an Icon blessed at the solemn novena in Gliwice (Poland). This icon is now placed on the main altar of the Parish of St. Alphonsus Mary of Liguori, in Kamëz. The Perpetual Novena has been celebrated there with the people every Tuesday for the last 7 years. The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is also solemnly celebrated on the weekend closest to her liturgical day. Three Apostolic Nuncios in Albania have presided over this feast in previous years. In the small village of Luz, distant 20 km from Kamëz, there is a filial church dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady with the icon of Perpetual Help.
In the town of Kamëz, three months are devoted to praying the Holy Rosary with the families. So many families desire the visit of the Mother of God that the calendar is extended from May to June and October. Several images travel from house to house, and each family invites its neighbours to evening prayer. In times of pandemic, the Rosary prayer takes place in the open-air St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta Centre (Valias).
Since 17 February 2021, there has been an itinerant Redemptorist missionary presence in Gjirokastër, in the Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania. A Pilgrim Icon of Perpetual Help is to be found there that was pilgriming throughout the Apostolic Administration. It is a triptych that all the small Catholic communities in this diocese are receiving, praying for the end of the pandemic and the birth of missionary vocations. These meetings show that Mary Most Holy is the Mother of all people because Orthodox and Bektashi believers who also wish to receive the graces of this Icon of Love are participating in this reception of the Missionary Icon.
P. Laureano Del Otero Sevillano CSSR
Redemptorist Mission in Albania