Romania’s biggest Catholic service offers faith, vaccines

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MIERCUREA CIUC, Romania (AP) — More than 35,000 Roman Catholic pilgrims have congregated at an open-air shrine in Romania’s Transylvania region for a centuries-old procession that was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The service in Sumuleu Ciuc 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. The event organizers also saw the massive religious gathering as an opportunity to tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A no-appointment-needed “vaccination marathon” was set up near a church. 

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