The idea behind Assumption Day is the belief that Mary the mother of Jesus had her body, and soul, miraculously taken up to heaven by God.
The feast is celebrated for the second time in difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic which has shaken global economy and took people’s lives.
Before the pandemic, thousand believers would turn up at Kibeho Holy Land renowned for apparitions of Mary.
Located in Nyaruguru district of Southern Province, Kibeho is an important place for Catholics as it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to some teenagers in the area in 1981.
Three female teenagers witnessed apparitions in the following years and the message which Mary left asking people to repent and encouraging Rwandans to love each other as well.
Since then, the place receives Catholic believers every year from across the world including global celebrities and other important personalities.
This year’s celebration has been observed with minimal participation in compliance with ongoing measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic while others were encouraged to pray from their homes.
Each of the three Masses read on Sunday was attended by 330 Christians against more than 50,000 congregants that used to turn up for prayers at the land before COVID-19.
Addressing congregants; the Bishop of Gikongoro Diocese, Célestin Hakizimana said that the processions for the Feast of the Assumption was not observed due to the pandemic and urged Christians to remain obedient.
“We are lucky to have celebrated this special day of Mary’s Assumption and Vigil of the Assumption Day. We were not able to host processions for the feast but we had introspective contemplation,” he said.
Bishop Hakizimana thanked the Virgin Mary for the blessing of the day considering the fact that restrictions were eased back to reopen churches but highlighted that it should not leave the loophole for complacency to disregard government’s directives.
He explained that Christians in attendance had to register before and respect other health guidelines arriving at the holy land including the proper wearing of face masks, respecting social distancing and washing hands.
“We are taught to obey and convinced that it is our moral obligation to do so because leadership is inherited from God. Being obedient to God must go hand in hand with respecting leaders. You cannot pretend to have Godly values while disobeying leaders around,” he said.
Bishop Hakizimana also called on Christians to pray in compliance with instituted directives to mirror good examples in the society.
“We should be thankful for their obedience to instituted measures as they attend church services. We encourage them to keep it up and continue being good examples in the community so as to defeat the pandemic together,” he noted.