One of the most fascinating aspects of the development of the “Day of the Unborn Child” is that the impetus for it seemed to self-generate naturally in the various pro-life communities of many nations, with no international organization or communication. As stated in the March 2004 WNY Catholic, “a growing number of people, independently of each other, have experienced insight concerning the significance of March 25 in promoting a ‘Culture of Life.’”
In 1989 Dr. John Willke, the physician often called the father of the pro-life movement known for his years as president of the premier U.S. pro-life organization National Right to Life Committee, authored and later distributed a pamphlet titled “Mary’s Pregnancy” that sheds light on the significance of Christ’s conception at the Annunciation. Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, said that when he worked at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family in the 1990s, he often heard pro-life leaders from around the world stress the importance of the Incarnation as a pro-life symbol and the need to give the March 25th Feast of the Annunciation more emphasis in church celebrations (see his more recent video comments below). The spirit of a new awareness of the Annunciation's relevance to the right-to-life was stirring in various places around the globe -- one that would find concrete expression in the movement to have individual nations formally adopt the traditional March 25th feast date as a day to remember unborn children. The name countries would choose for their day would vary slightly, but more importantly most would agree on the date. In the movement to honor March 25th, it would be Latin America that would lead the way.
Although some articles cite El Salvador as the first country to officially proclaim the March date as a day for unborn children, many sources in the original language quote official documents indicating their chosen Day for the Right to be Born was actually December 28th--the Feast of the Holy Innocents (see https://www.asamblea.gob.sv for more). The source of the discrepancy may be a Spanish-to-English translation error. What we can say is that when El Salvador officially adopted an annual observance for the unborn in 1993 (though timed and titled differently from those that followed), it led the way in achieving one of the combined objectives of the Day of the Unborn movement, and in a more general way its precedent of choosing a religious feast date as a secular pro-life observance opened the door to another Christian feast day--March 25th--being selected by many other nations for what would most commonly be termed, the Day of the Unborn Child. That initiative was to bear fruit five years later. Please see the note at the bottom of this page for more, including sources/links, and the alternative July date Costa Rica chose in the 1990's early on in the development of the Day of the Unborn Child movement..
Toward the end of 1998, Argentina became the first nation to pronounce the March feast of Christ's conception as a secular day for unborn children--President Carlos Menem declared March 25 as the Day of the Unborn Child -- or "Dia del Nino por Nacer" in Spanish -- to be celebrated for the first time the following year. The Vatican.va page promoting the Annunciation feast as "The Day of the Unborn Child" notes the influence of then Pope John Paul II -- the webpage states that the Argentine "initiative came from the President of the Republic who wanted to fulfill a promise he made personally to the Pope in the Church of the Argentine community in Rome." The official proclamation was made on the first celebration of Day of the Unborn Child March 25, 1999 in Buenos Aires in the presence of many dignitaries including the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, and representatives from the Orthodox, Anglican, Evangelical, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.
The establishment of the day as a pro-life memorial elicited a particularly noteworthy response from Pope John Paul II who wrote to Argentina's President Menem expressing the hope that "the celebration of the 'Day of the Unborn' will foster a positive choice in favor of life and the development of a culture oriented in this direction, which will ensure the promotion of human dignity in all situations." (See the Zenit 3/25/03 article and scroll down to: "Day of the Unborn" Taking on a Life of Its Own--Coincides with Feast of the Annunciation). It is worth noting that Pope John Paul II had highlighted the importance of the Annunciation feast throughout his pontificate before and after the first official Day of the Unborn Child. The now canonized Pope St. John Paul II chose the March 25th feast date as the day to promulgate important documents, particularly those upholding the sanctity of human life like Evangelium Vitae (March 25, 1995), and he deliberately chose Nazareth and the March 25th Annunciation feast as the time and place for him to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 via a public Mass (part of his week-long papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land) bringing the message of the Incarnation to the world entering the third millennium (for more John Paul II links to the Annunciation see the Fast & Fascinating Facts page). The papal connection to Argentina's Day of the Unborn Child also includes native Argentinean Pope Francis -- formerly the archbishop of that nation's capital Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio -- read more about then Cardinal Bergoglio leading the Rosary for Life for the day's observance here (scroll down Zenit pages to see article text).
* ARGENTINA on Dec. 7, 1998 became the first nation to honor the Annunciation feast date as Day of the Unborn Child (Dia Del Nino Por Nacer) by Decree No. 1406. Since then, many countries, with those in Central and South America taking the lead, have established an official memorial for unborn children--most often choosing the March 25th Annunciation for the date of the observance. In other countries the legislation was introduced or under consideration. For more on Argentina's Day of the Unborn Child observance, visit the following links: (see the official government website page HERE or click here for English translation -- or to read the full text of the document from the same site click HERE or click here for English translation -- to read more from another Argentine government site about the reasons for celebrating the day in a March 5, 2018 reaffirmation of the official observance, click HERE or click here for English translation). Also see the links in the section above on the history of the day's inauguration -- namely, the Vatican webpage with the text Pope John Paul II wrote to Argentina's President Menem for the occasion, as well as the two Zenit articles including one on the participation of Argentinean-born Pope Francis who was then Cardinal Bergoglio, once archbishop of that nation's capital. For more recent info on Argentina's continued leading role read about the 2019 Day of the Unborn Child demonstration (Mar. 23) in which more than 200 million people participated in at least 200 cities across the country, three hundred thousand of them in Buenos Aires, included in the AEL article HERE (for English translation click HERE).
* On May 20th, 1999 the Congress in GUATEMALA declared March 25th to be their "National Day of the Unborn Child" -- the official statement read that the day was intended "to promote a culture of life and defense of life from the moment of its conception" (read more at www.arbil.org/111vida.htm (click here for English translation).
* On January 25, 2000 NICARAGUA the President of the Republic issued decree/decreto number 10-2000 declaring March 25 to be their National Day of the Unborn Child (read more from the official document or click here for English translation).
* The DOMINICAN REPUBLIC adopted the day on February 1, 2001 -- read the official text on the Dia del Nino por Nacer (Day of the Unborn Child) Law/Ley No. 25-01 published on pg. 43 in the February 15, 2001 Gaceta Oficial which can be viewed in the on-line document here (document may open minimized in lower corner of screen -- in Word, click View - Layout - Paper Layout menu options to scroll down page numbers) -- there is a quote on the reasoning behind and purpose of the law in the Dominican Republic www.arbil.org/111vida.htm (click here for English translation) -- there is also mention of the Dominican Republic's observance of the day further down in the article here.
* The Congress of PERU in 2002 declared March 25 the “Day of the Unborn” -- officially by Law No. 27654. Previously in 2001, Peru's Roman Catholic bishops had announced that the March 25 feast of the Annunciation would be celebrated as the "Day of the Unborn." Some large-scale events in Peru are scheduled near March 25th on a day of the week that encourages greater attendance -- for example, the 40,000-strong march for life on March 19th in 2011 -- at the mass for the event Piura's Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren encouraged commitment to a culture of life that includes every unborn child -- click HERE for more. (Read more here about the religious roots of the day's observance in Peru, and find official information on the law here or click here for English translation).
* Then in 2004 a nation outside Latin America joined the growing list of nations honoring the day -- the PHILIPPINES instituted March 25 as “The Day of the Unborn” through Presidential Proclamation 586, signed on March 24, 2004 -- find official information on the law published in the Official Gazette here.
* In 2005 HONDURAS, the Dia del Nino No Nacido (for those aborted and those living who will be born) was adopted under decree no. 267-2005 on September 28, 2005 -- with the first observance of the national working holiday the following March. That first official celebration of the day in Honduras in 2006 included a Mass in the Cathedral of Tegucigalpa -- more recently the day has also been observed in that city with the Mass at the cathedral plus an information stand from Provida de Honduras in Central Park -- read more on the day in Honduras in an article by Delfina Lagos here or click here for English translation -- also see the article 25 de Marzo: Dia del Nino No Nacido here or click here for English translation) .
* In 2006 the day was given official recognition in ECUADOR by Presidential Decree No. 1441 -- read more here (or click here for English translation) -- and for a recent article from the Ecuadoran diocese of Quito click here (or click here for English translation) -- for an article and video on Ecuador's walk/march for the Day of the Unborn Child click here (or click here for English translation) -- (also see more on pro-life activities every 25th of the month in Ecuador here.
* In CHILE efforts to officially honor March 25 as a day for the unborn go as far back as May 18, 1999, and in 2013 the nation passed legislation to establish March 25th as "Day of the Unborn Child and Adoption" -- read more here -- and click here to see the poster promoting the day in Chile listing the organizations supporting the effort in that nation. Note that nations with an official Day of the Unborn Child on government calendars also have many events organized by private NGOs, churches and religious organizations -- the presence of one encourages the other and it can work in both directions.
* Puerto Rico occupies a middle ground between official and unofficial observance, with both faith-based services and formal attempts to have the day enshrined in law (for example of religious-based events read more at the link here about the procession and Day of the Unborn Child Mass celebrated in San Juan, Puerto Rico by the Archbishop with participation of more than 70 Catholic schools) -- legislation (House Bill 320) passed the House but is unfinalized -- read the Sep. 1, 2018 article Puerto Rico House Approves Bill Declaring Day To Celebrate Preborn Life by Melvin Soto Vazquez here.
* Likewise in Brazil, legislation PL 947/1999 was formally introduced but remains unfinalized -- (see the official document at the Brazilian government website in the Portuguese language here or click here for translation) -- until then the day (called Dia do Nascituro in Portuguese) is honored mainly as a church-based observance -- (for more on the day's celebration from a Brazilian site in Portuguese click here or click here for translation).
* Uruguay for some time has had unofficial marches and leafleting (click here for English) on March 25th, largely through efforts of its Catholic citizens, but recent efforts to have the date officially adopted as a Day of the Unborn Child have been proposed via the National Party -- read more on the effort to establish the day in Uruguay here or click here for translation)
UNOFFICIAL BUT ACTIVE/ORGANIZED:
Additionally, many countries without the official designation of the day have widespread religious or organization-based observances of a March 25th day for unborn children that raise awareness even without an official legal day declared. This is the case in North America.
* In the United States and Canada the day has been promoted in local dioceses and parishes and by church based organizations -- and nationwide most notably by the Knights of Columbus (see more on the Knights below) -- more recently the annual March 25th "International Gift of Life Walk" has brought public Day of the Unborn Child activism to the streets of New York City.
* In Mexico, the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church have formally promoted March 25 as the Annunciation and Day of the Unborn Child via the Mexican Episcopal Conference. Read more at this 2019 article from Vatican News. For more on church-based commemoration of the Dia del Nino por Nacer in Mexico see the 2019 Tribuna Noticias article (or click here for English translation of the page).
* Australia has a tradition of unofficial but prominent observance of the day, particularly via the many faith-based events in various Roman Catholic dioceses -- most notably the annual Day of the Unborn Child mass and outdoor public procession in Sydney, with activities at or near St. Mary's Cathedral. (In Australia the events are often held on the weekend, usually Sunday, several days before or after the Annunciation feast, which standardizes the celebration to a day of the week that encourages greater attendance -- See the International Section of the Current Events page for more links to the day's events and Australian organizers).
* Panama has a church-based observance -- for example, in 2014 the Archdiocese of Panama had a Day of the Unborn Child Mass to honor the day (to read about the letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese written by Panamanian Archbishop Jose Dimas Cedeno Delgado concerning the importance of the day click here, or read more from a Panamanian website here or click here for English translation).
* In Cuba pro-life organizations have been able to hold some events for the March 25th Day of the Unborn Child, which they commonly call the Day for Life or Dia por la Vida -- for example see this article from CatholicNews.com on a faith-based observance of the day. Cuban pro-life activists have also organized a living Rosary and children's drawing competition for the day -- more at Fides.org (near end of article). For a Cuban website on the day's celebration visit the site HERE (for English translation click HERE).
* Austria's pro-life groups honor the day with events and activities -- read more about the Jugend Furdas Leben (Youth for Life) nine month spiritual adoption prayer program starting on March 25 HERE (for English translation click HERE) -- or see the KathPress article on the same organization's street activism throughout Austria for Day of the Unborn Child at the site HERE (for English translation click HERE) -- KathPress is a useful website for information on Day of the Unborn Child activism in Austria -- see another article HERE (for English translation click HERE).
* Romania also has had noteworthy public pro-life activism for March 25th despite and likely as a reaction to its high abortion rate -- including having a March for Life in the three cities of Bucharest, Timisoara and Satu Mare simultaneously, organized jointly by over twenty pro-life organizations and religious groups -- click HERE (and scroll to end of article) for more. Romania's "Say Yes to Life" for March 25 (Spune da la Viata / Spune DA Vietii -- 25 Martie) campaign for the day is similar to Spain's "Say Yes to Life" theme for their observance. For an article on the day and the campaign from a Romanian website provitabucuresti.ro (a good source for current/upcoming activities for the day as well) click HERE (for English translation click HERE).
* In Spain the March 25th is an unofficial pro-life day of remembrance, but with a slightly different focus. Since 2011 the date has been promoted by private organizations as the "International Day for Life" (Día Internacional de la Vida) with a broadened awareness embracing other vulnerable classes targeted by the culture of death -- these efforts include opposition to euthanasia and embryo experimentation that complement the initiatives to end abortion. Note that events for the occasion may be on or "around" March 25th -- for an article that highlights activities in Madrid click HERE (for English translation HERE). The scope of the day's observance in Spain is evident in this LifeNews article noting over 200 civil associations participating in the march and demonstrations in at least 42 different localities. Spain, like Romania, also has a "Say Yes to Life" theme for the day and an Alianza Evangelica Latina website article notes that participation in this "Yes to Life" campaign had grown to include more than 300 associations from Spain (for English click HERE). For more on the "Yes to Life" theme in Spain at the 2019 International Day of Life march, visit the site HERE (for English translation click HERE). Read more about Spain's observance of the March 25th "International Day for Life" here. An official page of the Roman Catholic Church promoting the day can be found in a Spain-based website HERE (for English translation click HERE).
* In Slovakia March 25th (which they spell 25. marec) has a unique history in which the Annunciation feast was already associated with human rights ten years before Argentina adopted it as a memorial for the unborn. The day is promoted by pro-life groups as "Day of the Conceived Child" -- Den Pocateho Dietata -- for its connection to the Annunciation and status as International Day of the Unborn, but also because in Slovakia March 25th for other reasons was already recognized as a "day of the struggle for human rights" based on the nation's history. It dates back to 1988 in the Communist era when mainly Catholic protestors organized a March 25th Annunciation day demonstration in support of religious freedom. This history made Slovakia fertile ground for the March 25th day for unborn children to take root. As to the question of whether the Annunciation was specifically chosen for that original 1988 religious freedom demonstration, it appears that it was a factor given contemporaneous and later recollections -- prominent figures involved in the protest pointed out that the date for the protest was Annunciation Day. For example, see the website that includes the March 29, 1988 letter of Bishop John Ch. Korca to Prime Minister Colotka (near bottom of that webpage--for English translation click HERE) written only a few days after the Bratislava demonstration, which he states took place on the Annunciation (Zvestovania). Also see the later reflections of the nation's Christian Democrat leader Frantisek Miklosko quoted in a Slovakian website (for English translation click HERE) where he states that the 1988 protest was planned to take place on the Feast of the Annunciation -- he discussed the role of hockey player Marian Stastny in planning a challenging event in which, "On March 25, in the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, there will be protest events in various parts of the world, where the Slovak community lives." -- (translation of quote from František Mikloško, former dissident and political leader).
Activism specific to the more recent pro-life emphasis in Slovakia for this important date (often expanded to the whole week) includes white ribbons as a symbol, in addition to leaflets, information kiosks, and marches -- for an overview of these activities see the Slovakian Wikipedia page for the day HERE (for English translation click HERE). A coalition of non-governmental organizations associated with Slovakia's Forum Zivota (Forum for Life) has also employed media/television outreach for the occasion -- other pro-life activities have included film screenings and billboard campaigns -- click HERE for more. The Forum Zivota (meaning forum of life) site is a Slovakian website that provides information on the day's observance -- for their most current events as the day approaches visit forumzivota.sk (for English click HERE), or for more general information see this dedicated page for the day that explains the white ribbon outreach at http://www.forumzivota.sk/25-marec-den-pocateho-dietata (for English click HERE) -- more details including references to the Annunciation (spelled Zvestovania in Slovak) can be found at the web archive version from 2018 (scroll down past video windows to read about "Accompanying activities--for English click HERE) that includes an explanation of why March 25th was chosen as a day for the unborn and how it is ideal for Slovakia--its overall importance as the Annunciation feast date and also its history as a special memorial day for Slovakian human rights in general, both factors making it especially appropriate as a day to promote the rights of unborn children in that nation. Also visit Forum Zivota on Facebook (for English translation click HERE) including the About page (for English click HERE) -- as well as its affiliated website www.25marec.sk (for English translation click HERE) which has a general page explaining the day (for English click HERE). An archived page from that site (visit link and click Translate prompt for English, or for direct link click HERE -- if URL is not available, try the alternative HERE -- the one found HERE -- or HERE), has interesting references to activities and contests in Slovakia for the pro-life observance of the Annunciation as Conceived Child Day. The site also has an updated page describing annual and current events in Slovakia (for English translation click HERE) for what is usually a week-long campaign, suggesting ways to participate and get involved (wearing white ribbons, etc.) -- it also promotes the practice of honoring our "Beginnings" conception date as our own personal feast day, which is very similar to the First Days initiative of celebrating our first day of prenatal life (the page includes a link to its own conception-date on-line calculator found HERE based on entering a birth date via drop-down menus). The site has more details at this page -- (for English translation click HERE). The Catholic Exchange website also notes that pro-life groups make annual requests via letter to the republic's National Council to have March 25th officially declared Day of the Conceived Child.
INDIVIDUAL EVENTS IN COUNTRIES NOT IN THE OFFICIAL OR UNOFFICIAL LISTING:
There are many events and activities for the March 25th Day of the Unborn Child in countries other than those listed above, but not yet sufficiently widespread to be on the international media radar. If you are in a country that is not included above, but is geographically or culturally close to one that is actively honoring the day in some way, it is likely that you can find some events within your borders, especially if you live in Latin America -- start by contacting a local diocese or pro-life/pro-family organization like Alianza Evangelica Latina (Click HERE for more on AEL's involvement in publicizing the day) or (for English translation click HERE) -- AEL has representatives in many countries including island and other small nations. If you see March 25th Annunciation pro-life/Day of the Unborn events expanding in a nation that is not mentioned above, please feel free to contact the webmaster via the e-mail or Facebook links on the home page. Finding a past event may help you find one that is current as the organizers often intend to make it annual, or another local church or organization may want to keep it going once a precedent has been set -- it is worthwhile to contact those in charge to inquire. Here are examples of events in nations not known for an organized tradition of celebrating the day. In BOLIVIA there has been a ringing-of-bells event for the day promoted by the Bolivian Council of Laity of the Catholic Church (read more on the Repique de Campanas HERE or for English click HERE) as well as a pro-life march (for English click HERE) in Santa Cruz de la Sierra that starts in Student Plaza/Plaza Del Estudiante spearheaded by the Catholic, Christian, and Evangelical Churches who invite all citizens to participate.
THE ROLE OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS:
Individual organizations should be acknowledged for their prominent role in endorsing the Annunciation feast date as a day of pro-life remembrance and activism. Indeed their contribution is essential, for the road to an official declaration by a nation can be long and complicated and is often accomplished in stages as legislation moves forward over months or years. During that time, religious and community groups need not wait -- going ahead with their own unofficial Day of the Unborn Child can raise awareness and pave the way for an official recognition of the day. If consistently celebrated and promoted, the unofficial celebrations and events of private groups and non-government organizations often influence a culture as much as official proclamations.
Each country where the day has been observed officially or unofficially has groups and associations that promote it and produce materials in the language of that nation. The best way to find them is to contact a pro-life group in that nation, or use a search engine and enter the keywords for the day and country name, typing all words in the nation's official language; then use the translate button or site to view the results in the desired language -- you can also look up the site domain for the nation and enter that search code (the two letter abbreviation after the word, site and a colon (no spaces) -- for example to search for information on organizations in the Dominican Republic promoting the Day of the Unborn Child, enter: Republica Dominicana Dia del Nino por Nacer organizacion site:do
The U.S. for example has several organizations promoting the Day of the Unborn Child or more generally the pro-life aspect of the Annunciation Feast. Most notably, in August of 2002, the Knights of Columbus passed a resolution at their Supreme Convention proclaiming, "Orderwide, the March 25th Feast of the Annunciation to be the International Day of the Unborn Child." The Supreme Knight's statement on the occasion read: "May this day be the occasion for all of us to witness to the sanctity of God’s great gift of life and to further resolve to protect and defend it." Since then the Knights of Columbus have undertaken a wide sweeping organized effort to promote the feast as the "Day of the Unborn Child" in the U.S. (also Canada) and their website offers recommendations and materials for its observance such as their printable sample service with hymn and prayer -- also see their online edition of Columbia articles The Day The Word Was Made Flesh and from 2013 Building A Culture Of Life Together -- another webpage includes observance of the day in relation to the Knights' current Pregnancy Center Support program -- Note: More specific advice for holding events to observe the day can be viewed via the web archive of the site's previous Day of the Unborn webpage (or click HERE) and the archived Action Steps for the day but please note that links and support materials from those pages may not be available.
2002 was also the year Priests For Life with two other prominent pro-life apostolates (Human Life International, and the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe) issued a joint statement entitled "The Annunciation: A Feast of Life" encouraging special celebration of the feast as marking the moment the Incarnation took place, with special emphasis given to pro-life observances on the day -- the web page also lists over 75 leaders of various organizations who have added their names to the statement. Priests for Life further urged believers to honor the March 25th feast specifically as the "Day of the Unborn Child" on its "Celebrate the Annunciation" webpage.
At around the same time additional initiatives promoting the pro-life import of the Annunciation in the U.S. began in the Peoria, IL Roman Catholic Diocese via the Family Resources Center, which hosts a festive open house celebration on the feast day and distributes publications on starting an Annunciation Church/School Program as well as a Lenten Reflection service on Christ's prenatal life and Spiritual Adoption programs of prayer for unborn children from the nine months from March 25 to Christmas. Although not specifically "Day of the Unborn Child" events or activism, the intent was likeminded. As stated in the Family Resource Center News published by the Peoria Diocese Respect Life Board, "the Feast of the Annunciation program is a beautiful way to teach the reality of the unborn child by following Jesus' own journey in the womb from the Annunciation until his birth at Christmas--a journey that reveals that Jesus was already here on earth as our Redeemer alive in the womb of his mother Mary nine months before Christmas." Excerpted from a Jan/Feb 2012 Family Resources Center News pg. 3 article by Jan Smith entitled "Prepare Now to Celebrate March 25."
Lutherans for Life also offered materials centered on the pro-life implications of the Annunciation as the moment of Incarnation. March 2010 saw publication of an interesting article in Christianity Today on the resurgence of interest in the Annunciation including among Protestants (particularly its Christ-centered aspect of celebrating his conception/Incarnation and how the feast has historically assisted the fight against heresy and currently helps Christians see their own faith as incompatible with abortion. As with other more general Annunciation awareness programs focused on Christ's conception and prenatal life, the phrase "Day of the Unborn" may not have been used, nor an official holiday advocated, but the theme of stressing the pro-life implications of Christ's conception and prenatal life continued to raise consciousness of the theological import that had informed the Day of the Unborn Child movement -- just as the theology of Christmas has and continues to inspire many secular charitable endeavors in month of December.
To reinforce the connection between the feasts of the Annunciation and Christmas, some organizations have started initiatives to encourage pro-life activities every 25th of the month. In 2008 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Venice, Florida began an annual series (Novena) of nine monthly pro-life masses promoted locally via Laity For Life starting on the Annunciation feast and continuing each 25th (or as near to the day as possible) leading up to Christmas -- the "Novena of Masses for Life" focused on the pro-life implications of Christ's life in Mary's womb. In Ecuador a year-round approach was adopted in 5 parishes of the Archdiocese of Quito with a Mass for the unborn child and the blessing of pregnant mothers on the 25th of every month. Pro-life activism each 25th throughout the year has been promoted by pro-life organizations on the web as well, often with special emphasis on the nine months between March 25 and December 25, which incorporates the best aspects of both the year-round and nine-month approaches. For example, current information on the 25th-of-the-month Veladas25 program from Valencia, Spain can be found at the Facebook page for veladas25valencia (click and scroll here for English translation of the About section of their Facebook page). Click here for additional information from the Veladas25 archived site on the reasons for this monthly emphasis (click for English translation). For or more on the specifics of past initiatives see the veladas25.org non-active archive page for this effort (click for English translation) -- or scroll down their old home page at the archive of the veladas25 site (click here for English translation of the site). (Please note that archived web pages will not have current info.) For ideas on starting a "25th of the Month Club" click here.
American Life League also began promoting the pro-life aspects of the Annunciation feast, offering suggestions for its celebration and specifically advocating its adoption as an official "Day of the Preborn." Their efforts combined both aspects of the secular Day of the Unborn Child movement and the theologically based pro-life Annunciation-awareness and observance for churches, families and private organizations. To further these efforts, in 2007 the organization announced a year-long campaign (read archived article HERE) collecting online petitions via its DayOfThePreborn.com site to have March 25th declared "The Day of the Preborn" by the President of the United States. To read more about ALL's emphasis on the importance of the feast of Christ's conception use this direct link to search the term Annunciation via their website search box.
Fr. Frank Pavone in his March 19, 2012 Priests For Life e-mail update wrote the following: "March 25th, which is nine months before the celebration of the Birth of Christ, is the Annunciation, when Jesus was conceived within the body of the Virgin Mary as she accepted her call to be the Mother of God. Priests for Life, along with many other pro-life groups, urges believers to celebrate this day as a Day of the Unborn Child, with special observances that highlight the Church's pro-life teachings. See www.priestsforlife.org/annunciation." In the March 26, 2012 PFL update Fr. Pavone also included a link to a video he recorded on the Annununciation -- http://youtu.be/NjZqmG9w-ao. Source-- March 19, 2012 E-mail Update--From: "Priests for Life" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: I don't usually recommend movies, but this one you need to see! , [and also] March 26, 2012 E-mail Update--From: "Priests for Life" <email@example.com> Subject: Do you know what Priests for Life is doing at the Supreme Court today?.
Watch the video in the screen below or go to at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjZqmG9w-ao&feature=youtu.be:
Transcript (1st half of video): [Text accompanying the video reads: "Uploaded by FrFrankPavone on Mar 26, 2012 Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, talks about the Annunciation and the upcoming anniversary of the death of Terri Shiavo. For more Annunciation resources, please visit http://www.PriestsForLife.org/Annunciation."] "
"Hello Friends Fr. Frank Pavone here, National Director of Priests for Life. Every year on March 25th the Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation. This year in 2012 it was transferred to March the 26th because of the Sunday of Lent on the 25th, but in any case this is the day when we celebrate Jesus becoming human--the Incarnation, and the sanctifying of human life not only by God joining himself to that life, but joining himself to it at every stage including as zygote, as an embryo, as a fetus, as an unborn child, in every stage of that journey that we have all made as human beings--God himself was an unborn child. So we celebrate on the Annunciation in a particular way a day of life. Many countries have even declared it to be a day of human life. And in fact Priests for Life is proposing that every year this be a world day of life with a special message from the Holy Father and a special series of celebrations throughout the world promoting the dignity of human life at every stage and in every circumstance...."
Priests for Life also announced in its March 2014 letters to donors from Fr. Frank Pavone that one of its "goals is to have March 25 declared worldwide as the Day of the Unborn Child, as it is already celebrated in various countries and by certain organizations." The mailing also said that this initiative would be launched as part of a "year-long preparation for the 20th anniversary of Evangelium Vitae in 2015," also known as "The Gospel of Life" published by Pope John Paul II on the topic of abortion and our duty to defend children in the womb. [original emphasis.] Toward that end, a special Annunciation vigil "Worldwide Prayer Vigil for Life" was held in Rome on the evening of March 24 in 2015 to mark the anniversary and observe the feast, which officially begins at sundown the night before the 25th. It was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, with Priests for Life participating and assisting in promotion. An article on the event can be found here -- also read Fr. Pavone's remarks on the event and watch some video footage. Additional supplementary information on the vigil and anniversary is available at this link.
In 2019 Priests for Life launched its "Baby Chris" project on the March 25 Annunciation Feast -- it allows participants to follow the development of a baby virtually on-line through the See Baby Pregnancy Guide smart-phone app for the nine months from the Annunciation to Christmas. The "Baby Chris" initiative, backed by a coalition of American pro-life groups organized by Priests for Life, raises awareness of the stages of fetal development and reinforces understanding of the Annunciation as the feast of Christ's conception and its relationship to Christmas. To follow the "Baby Chris" project visit BabyChris.org.
In addition to Priests for Life, Human Life International also advanced its promotion of the pro-life import of the Annunciation in 2014, specifically highlighting the celebration of this feast as "Day of the Unborn Child" and noting Pope John Paul II's support of the idea in its HLI.org website article, "The Feast of the Annunciation: An International Pro-Life Celebration" by Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, the president of HLI: "March 25th is the Feast of the Annunciation, marking the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, announcing that she would be the mother of the Savior, the Word made flesh. It is also the day of an international pro-life celebration: the International Day of the Unborn Child. Established by Blessed Pope John Paul II to coincide with and honor the Feast of the Annunciation, the pope wanted people in every part of the world to celebrate the gift of life by remembering all unborn human life. In inaugurating this day in 1999, the great champion and defender of human life united the universal Church in a single act, boldly proclaiming the value of every human life while in the same moment stressing the necessary importance of defending the most vulnerable. Instituting the day as, 'A positive option in favor of life and the spread of a Culture for Life to guarantee respect for human dignity in every situation,' the soon-to-be Saint John Paul wanted us to reflect on the Incarnation--the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit--because it reminds us of the gift that forever affects human history and affords to man and woman their dignity. He also wanted to prick the conscience of society by making us remember the millions of unborn children whose lives have been violently ended by the crime of abortion--globally nearly 50 million every year….The Feast of the Annunciation invites us to reflect upon the wonder of every human life, particularly the amazing world of the developing child yet to be born. Please join me on March 25th by participating in pro-life events in your community. Let us stand in solidarity with the universal Church in its call to prayer and active defense of every human life. John Paul II wanted a positive favor for life to be cultivated. Let us make it a greater reality." Read the whole article at http://www.hli.org/2014/03/feast-annunciation-international-pro-life-celebration/ or find it at https://hli.org/2014/03/march-25-international-day-unborn-child
OTHER RECENT DEVELOPMENTS:
2016 saw a relatively rare convergence of the date of Christ's conception feast and the commemoration of his death -- Good Friday fell on March 25th. Interestingly, an ancient Christian tradition teaches that Christ was conceived and died on that very same day of the month -- this belief was already held in the third century and Augustine wrote of it in "On the Trinity" (see the Historical Background page for more). Although most churches moved the official 2016 Annunciation celebration to April to avoid the conflict, the symbolism of the two observances coinciding was noted as was its rarity -- it has happened only six times since 1900 and won't happen again for 141 years -- read more here.
The importance of the Annunciation to Christendom was reinforced in 2017 when Catholic television network EWTN launched its first U.K. studio "just steps away" from the ancient Walsingham shrine dedicated to the Annunciation. The facility is located north of London at the Village of Walsingham in a three-story building named "Annunciation House" -- it includes a visitors' center and reception area where pilgrims can enjoy clips from EWTN's most popular series, films, and documentaries. Click for a Catholic News Agency article that notes the providential link between the Annunciation and EWTN via Walsingham with EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw pointing out that the full religious name of EWTN foundress Mother Angelica "was Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation." A congratulatory letter from Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster was read publicly for the occasion, which said in part -- "Walsingham has been a place of pilgrimage, proclaiming the joy of the Annunciation; in this new chapter of its history, I welcome the opportunity for the shrine and EWTN to work together as servants of the New Evangelization." Additional details can be found in the Markets Insider article which states that EWTN hopes the new studio will facilitate production of programs with leading Catholics from the U.K. as well as the formation of a "strategic collaboration with the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham that will help the shrine carry out its mission to evangelize." Walsingham, known as "England's Nazareth" with a replica of the house where the Annunciation is said to have occurred, has become a popular site for ecumenical prayer and includes both Anglican and Catholic chapels.
A partial list of countries that officially recognize the Day of the Unborn can be found at -- http://hospital-scaravelli.mendoza.gov.ar/index.php?option=com_content&id=139:dia-del-nino-por-nacer&catid=1:noticias (click here to produce an English translation). Another webpage on the movement can be found here (click here to produce an English translation), and a more recent listing here (click here for an English translation). Also see this 2013 webpage on the history of pro-life observances in the region: https://vidasv.org/2013/03/28/historia-del-dia-del-nino-por-nacer-2 -- particularly note the different dates chosen by El Salvador (Dec. 28) and Costa Rica (July 27). At the time it listed Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Ecuador and Peru as officially observing a day for the unborn on March 25, with pending efforts in Brazil and Chile (the Chilean initiative later bore fruit in 2013), and unofficial observances in Uruguay, Spain, Mexico, and Cuba. Other Spanish-language articles add Paraguay, Slovakia, and Austria to the "unofficial" category -- but the U.S., Australia and other nations could also be added to the "unofficial" list due to the many individual Day of the Unborn Child events promoted by many organizations, particularly the Knights of Columbus.
Additional details on these and other countries’ establishment of this day as an official observance can be found in the March 22, 2006 article "Latin Americans Poised for Day of the Unborn" at http://www.zenit.org/article-15596?l=english. A history of these efforts including the initiative to broaden the March 25th "Day of the Unborn Child" to a "Life Day" that includes all "culture of death" offenses against vulnerable human life can be found at sialavida25m.org (click here for English translation).
Read more about the "Day of the Unborn Child" initiatives in various nations at the following links:
Current articles can be found at: https://zenit.org/?s=Day+of+the+unborn+child
[NOTE ON THE DISCREPANCY IN REPORTING EL SALVADOR'S DATE]: While it is true that El Salvador did choose to officially recognize a day for unborn children in 1993 and should be recognized for that important achievement, the date and name of the day varied from what would become the March 25th "Day of the Unborn Child" movement that first came to fruition in Argentina. Sources in the original language cite official government documents (the 1993 Legislative decree no. 738 of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador) indicating the day chosen was the December 28th Feast of the Holy Innocents. The Holy Innocents feast memorializes the infants killed by King Herod, making the December 28th date an appropriate choice for a pro-life observance, but different from the movement to honor the March 25 Annunciation, which focuses on the moment of Christ's conception Christians recognize as the Incarnation. Although many articles state El Salvador selected the March date, this may be an early translation error repeated due to the difficulty in finding or reading the Spanish language documents -- indeed, just to find them, one has to enter search terms for the correct name of the day in Spanish. Additionally, Spanish-language articles on the subject often discuss both the December 28th and March 25th feasts as days of pro-life remembrance, but naturally will only mention the December date once as it only applies to one Latin American country, and thus it is easily overlooked, especially by those reading an unfamiliar language or imperfect automated translation that can jumble word order. It should also be noted that the name of the day in El Salvador was similar in intent, but slightly different -- in English it translates to Right to Birth Day, or Day for the Right to Be Born. Searching the name of El Salvador and the day in Spanish -- Dia Del Derecho A Nacer -- brings up Spanish-language sites that state the date as "28 de Diciembre" (note December's spelling in Spanish, which can also be added as a search term). Researchers can see the quotes from official documents at https://vidasv.org/el-salvador/legislacion -- at that page, scroll down to this heading (and later enter the terms in a search engine): DIA DEL NINO POR NACER, DECRETO LEGISLATIVO No 738, DE LAS ASAMBLEA LEGISLATIVA DE EL SALVADOR, ANO 1993 -- the section includes the quote, "Declarese el 28 de Diciembre de cada ano el Dia del Derecho de Nacer." The official fact sheet on the legislation at https://www.asamblea.gob.sv/decretos/details/1549 clarifies that it was the December 28th feast date that was selected -- also visit and scroll down to No. 738 at this page from the same site specifically for the year 1993: https://asamblea.gob.sv/decretos/decretosporanio/1993/0
In summary: Both nations deserve credit for their leadership roles in initiatives that led to the international Day of the Unborn Child movement. If we separate the two aspects of the Day of the Unborn Child --on the one hand, the push to recognize a national day for unborn children; and on the other, the initiative to adopt Christ's March 25th conception feast as the date--we can give credit to El Salvador as first to establish a day, while crediting Argentina with being first in the combined objective of proclaiming Christ's March 25th conception feast as their day. Moreover, individuals in any country can honor both days as memorials to the unborn incorporating the particular Biblical accounts associated with the feast date on which either observance is set; in fact, many already do: the December Holy Innocents feast can include special mention of endangered newborns, and the March Annunciation feast can have a particular focus on endangered embryos newly conceived.]
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Page Updated 6/10/2019