Virgins march singing from the forest.

Saint Maria's Pilgrimage -- August 15th, 2000:

Every year on the 15th of August, pilgrims come from all over Maramures to Moisei, the monastery chosen for Saint Mary's Pilgrimage.


Virgin's pile out of transports and don their colors for the final leg of their journey.















For over a day without let up the crowds streamed up the road toward the Moisei monastery.    





Inside the grounds, people stream past tables where monks and laypeople sell blessings and candles.











   And elsewhere families jockey for camping position on the ground.






  Gheorghe Bodnaru came from his monastery in Suceava to be the monk in charge of prayers for the dead.





Prayers began in daylight by the wall of the old monastery.











Vasile, a man we'd never met before, gives us a quick lecture on the importance of Mother Mary and his local patron monks.




One table of candles are for the living, the other is for the dead.





Not a line for the toilets, this is a line for the confessional booths.










As the night wears on, women begin doing their 'penances' for bad deeds, or for large prayer, such as a cure for a loved one.






The larger the prayer, the more humiliating the penance.

Crawling had to be done on elbows and knees -- no hands allowed.



















When dawn finally came, people stirred and prepared for a second day.






Sermons break out all over, and more blessings are asked for and received.









Each village's virgins gather in the forest outside the gates, then their songs begin and don't stop...







... until they've marched three times round the monastery's church.














More Ceremonies


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