By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

At the request of Pope Benedict XVI, Catholics throughout the world will celebrate a vigil for the unborn Saturday, Nov. 27, the day before the first Sunday of Advent.

Cardinal Justin Rigali has asked the priests of the Philadelphia Archdiocese to gather their parishioners a half hour before the regularly scheduled Saturday vigil Mass Nov. 27 to pray the rosary on behalf of the unborn.

The purpose of the “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” is for parishioners to pray, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, for an ever-deepening respect for and protection of those yet to be born.

As the Church begins the holy season of Advent – the time to prepare for the birth of Jesus – the Pope called for the vigil to pray for the unborn and their parents, for an end to abortion and research that destroys embryos, and for recognition of the dignity of every human life. {{more}}

“Since our responsibility to pray for a greater respect for all human life and to bear witness to this aspect of the Gospel is of such importance, I ask that the pastor of the parish lead the faithful in the rosary,” said the Cardinal in a recent letter to the priests of the Archdiocese.

In those parishes in which one priest is assigned, the Cardinal asked that appropriate arrangements be made for a representative to lead the praying of the rosary.

In that regard, priestly commitments, such as confessions customarily celebrated late Saturday afternoon, would not be adversely affected.

In those parishes that do not have a regularly scheduled vigil Mass, the Cardinal asked that the rosary be prayed prior to a regularly scheduled Sunday Mass.

“Since the Vigil of the First Sunday of Advent coincides with Thanksgiving weekend in the United States, I believe that the recitation of the rosary prior to the vigil Mass in each parish is a pastorally sensible response to this very important initiative of the Holy Father,” said the Cardinal.

At the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre will lead the rosary at 4:45 p.m., before the regularly scheduled 5:15 p.m. vigil Mass Nov. 27. Bishop McIntyre will also serve as the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass.

“In a world where the dignity of human life is so often forgotten or even rejected, our Holy Father has called all of us to pray, in a very special way, that that dignity will be fully appreciated,” said Msgr. Arthur E. Rodgers, rector of the Cathedral.

“We as Catholics are going to be leading that fight for the return to an appreciation of the dignity of human life.”

As the mother church of the Archdiocese, the Cathedral is “praying with all the other parishes for this special intention,” Msgr. Rodgers added.

Pope Benedict will preside over an evening prayer vigil Nov. 27 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

“The season of preparation for Christmas is an appropriate time for invoking spanine protection over every human being called into existence and for thanking God for the gift of life we received from our parents,” said the Pope.

For more information about the Nov. 27 vigil for the unborn in churches across the Archdiocese, check your parish bulletin or consult your pastor.

Click here to link to the “Plan for the Holy Rosary for all Nascent Human Life to be Observed in all the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia before the Vigil Mass of the First Sunday of Advent.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or