KFOR Chronicle
Catholics Revere Black Madonna
By LT JG Oleksandr Tretiak, Ukrainian Navy

The annual Pilgrimage to the Church of Letnica village is one of the most significant events for thousands of Christians from many parts of the world. They come here with their families to see the well-known Black Madonna, to enrich themselves spiritually (to strengthen their spirit) and to take pleasure in the beauty of the Madonna. Many well-known people participated in the pilgrimage to this place and then completely dedicated themselves to serve God. One of the most vivid examples of such dedications is that of Mother Theresa.

Letnica has a strong history as a center of pilgrimage to the Madonna in the Church at Letnica beginning in the 14th century. On the 15th of August - the day of the assumption of The Holy Virgin Mary - thousands of faithful Catholics came from all over Kosovo and other parts of Europe to the small village of Letnica in Southeastern Kosovo. This year, more than 200 soldiers from KFOR attended the pilgrimage. The buses stopped just outside Letnica and the soldiers walked six kilometers over the mountains down to the church.

On their way to the Holy place there were 6 stops during which KFOR soldiers could pray and send their prayers to Madonna. It was a beautiful day, and in the meadows over the mountains there was a wonderful scent of thyme.

KFOR troops who participated in the pilgrimage marched together with French Chaplain Michel de Peyret and Italian Chaplain Don Vitalii Gianmarco were greeted by Catholic Bishop of Kosovo, who celebrated the mass, together with the Catholic Bishop of Albania. The soldiers and citizens were singing and venerating the statue of Our Lady of Letnica as they walked.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the celebration this year inspired the many Kosovar pilgrims to forgive the past, and seek peace for Kosovo.