Annual National Marian Pilgrimage in Guinea-Bissau Canceled, Pilgrims to Pray in Parishes

Our Lady of the Nativity Sanctuary, Cacheu, Guinea-Bissau. Credit: Public Domain

The annual national Marian pilgrimage in the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau that had been scheduled to take place next month has been canceled, Catholic Church officials in the country have announced, citing a surge in reported cases of COVID-19.

In a Wednesday, November 24 report, the Apostolic Administrator of Bissau Diocese, Bishop José Lampra Cà, and Fr. Lucio Brentegani who is the Diocesan Administrator of Bafatá Diocese call on pilgrims to the Our Lady of the Nativity Sanctuary in Cacheu, to implore Mary’s intercession in their respective Parishes.

“Unfortunately, this year, due to the increase of cases of COVID-19 in Guinea-Bissau, after having spoken with the health authorities, we thought it was not safe to organize this national pilgrimage where many people gather,” the Catholic Church leaders say in the report by Vatican News Portuguese.

They add, “We understand that it is better that each community can celebrate this feast in Parishes.”

The pilgrimage to Cacheu, they note, is “very important for Christians, since it constitutes a kind of moral and spiritual nourishment, allowing the faithful to testify with integrity of life and perseverance over time, the authenticity and depth of their faith in Jesus Christ.”


“There are no promising signs that could realistically encourage the normal resumption of the national and annual pilgrimage as we would like,” the Catholic Church leaders have been quoted as saying. 

Considered the greatest show of popular religion in Guinea-Bissau, the pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine in Cacheu, a town in Northwestern Guinea-Bissau, lying on the Cacheu River, brings together all the Catholic communities in the West African nation.

Reports indicate that Guinea-Bissau is among African countries reporting new coronavirus infections in recent times. The country has recorded 6,438 cases of COVID-19 including 146 deaths and 6,250 recoveries.

Guinea-Bissau has reportedly administered at least 363,573 doses of COVID vaccines.

In the November 24 report, the Administrators of the two Catholic Dioceses in Guinea-Bissau say the focus now is to implore God for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“May God help us to come out of this precarious situation of the pandemic quickly without losing the possibility of being able to celebrate together and continuing to pray for the end of the pandemic so that we can return to the time of celebrating together, of being together and of walking together,” the Catholic leaders say.

They add, “We also want to value this time of synod so that our Church may grow following Jesus.”

Last year, the Catholic Church in Guinea-Bissau also cancelled the annual pilgrimage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands from the two Catholic Dioceses take part in the spiritual exercise each year, journeying as pilgrims in a tradition that began in 1984.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.