International day of the Unborn Child

The International Day of the Unborn Child is observed annually on March 25. It was established by Pope John Paul II to coincide with the Feast of the Annunciation. John Paul II viewed the day as “a positive option in favour of life and the spread of a culture for life to guarantee respect for human dignity in every situation”.

The Feast of the Annunciation, is Also known as the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Lady Day, the Feast of the Incarnation (Festum Incarnationis) and Conceptio Christi (Christ’s Conception). The event commemorates the visit of the archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is celebrated on 25 March each year, except in those years when 25 March falls during the Paschal Triduum, when it is transferred forward to the first suitable day during Eastertide.

The Feast of the Annunciation is observed throughout Christianity, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Catholicism, and Lutheranism. It is a major Marian feast, classified as a solemnity in the Catholic Church, a Festival in the Lutheran Churches, and a Principal Feast in the Anglican Communion. In Orthodox Christianity, because it announces the incarnation of Christ, it is counted as one of the 8 great feasts of the Lord, and not among the 4 great Marian feasts, although some prominent aspects of its liturgical observance are Marian. Two examples in liturgical Christianity of the importance attached to the Annunciation are the Angelus prayer, and especially in Roman Catholicism, the event’s position as the first Joyful Mystery of the Dominican Rosary.

El Salvador became the first nation to officially celebrate what was then called a Day of the Right to Be Born in 1993. The name was changed to International Day of the Unborn Child and Subsequently other countries have initiated official celebrations for the unborn, such as Argentina with Day of the Unborn in 1998, Chile with Day of the Conceived and Unborn in 1999, and Guatemala with the National Day of the Unborn, also in 1999. The 1999 celebration in Buenos Aires was joined by representatives of the Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish communities of Brazil. The promotion of the International Day of the Unborn Child was endorsed by the Knights of Columbus.

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