More than 35,000 Roman Catholic pilgrims gathered Saturday at an open-air shrine in Romania for a centuries-old procession that was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The service in Sumuleu Ciuc, located in Romania's Transylvania region, is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and dates back more than 450 years.
For the tens of thousands of Catholics in the overwhelmingly Christian Orthodox country who attended in droves, resuming their faith’s biggest national event was a welcome step towards normality.
Participants were urged to observe a number of coronavirus measures, including wearing masks.
But many stood close together without face coverings.
The event organizers saw the massive religious gathering, which in recent years also attracted thousands of foreign pilgrims, as an opportunity to get people vaccinated against COVID-19.