‘Austria prays’: A nation turns to the rosary for an end to the pandemic

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff


A statue of the Virgin Mary outside the Pfarrkirche St. Alban in Matrei in Osttirol, Austria. / josefkubes via Shutterstock.

Markt Piesting, Austria, Dec 16, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

As Austria battles a new wave of COVID-19 infections, an initiative promoting the rosary for an end to the pandemic is taking off.

Last week alone, more than a thousand people prayed the rosary together at several hundred locations across the Central European country.

Now, the prayer movement known as “Austria prays” is spreading to Germany, Switzerland, and other countries including the United States, reports CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

Louis-Pierre Laroche, the initiative’s creator, came up with the idea after repeatedly hearing the phrase “Now only prayer will help” in conversations following the outbreak of the pandemic.

In an interview on the movement’s website, he said he wasn’t surprised by the initiative’s rapid growth. He explained that, apart from spending half an hour drafting a summons to prayer and sending it to his contacts, he didn’t invest “a dime” in the project.

“What comes out of it shows that, in my opinion, it is blessed by God,” he said.

The formula is simple: every Wednesday, at 6 p.m. local time, participants in “Austria prays” meet together in a public place to recite the rosary.

Laroche noted that the rosary is a prayer that the Church has often turned to in times of crisis. He cited the Battle of Lepanto, a naval engagement that took place 450 years ago on Oct. 7, resulting in a resounding defeat for the Ottoman Empire.

Austria, a country of almost nine million people, has recorded more than 1.2 million COVID-19 infections and 13,282 deaths as of Dec. 16, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The government lifted a three-week nationwide lockdown for vaccinated people on Dec. 13, but the unvaccinated must continue to follow lockdown measures.

Austria is expected to become the first Western country to introduce mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 from February 2022.

The move has prompted protests, with an estimated 44,000 people attending a rally against compulsory vaccines in the capital, Vienna, on Dec. 11.

Laroche said that he did not want “Austria prays” to be politicized.

“I would like to completely separate this initiative for prayer from the politics of the day,” he said.

“Let’s leave aside politics. Let us also free ourselves spiritually from all these media messages that break you down, that build up even more pressure, that build up even more hatred, that build up even more divisiveness. We entrust all of this to Our Lady.”

He emphasized that the initiative’s goal is “the end of this crisis.”

He said that the movement sought to respond to the “crisis of society” by placing it “under the protection of Our Lady.”

He underlined that the Virgin Mary is known as the “Undoer of Knots” and can straighten out the “tangle” in society created by the pandemic.

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