96 Days of Life: Nellie Gray, a worldwide inspiration

When Nellie Gray held the first March for Life in 1974 I am sure she understood how important this March would be in the United States – but who knew she would be an inspiration to pro-lifers worldwide? 


The Paris March for Life (Marche pour la vie) is an annual demonstration held in late January, close to the anniversary date of the 1975 law that legalized abortion in France. The event was created in 2005 by several French pro-life organizations to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of legal abortion.  The Paris March for Life has become the largest annual pro-life gathering in Europe.  The rally attracts delegations from European countries other than France, notably Italy, Spain, Belgium, the UK, Poland, Switzerland, Germany and Ireland. 2010 saw a sharp rise in attendance, possibly as high as 25,000, compared to 15,000 in 2009.


Not widely reported in any media was that this year there was a German March for Life that attracted about 4,500 marchers.  More can be found here.


The first March for Life in Warsaw, Poland (Marsz dla Życia i Rodziny) was in 2006 and attracts a few thousand every year.  In this birth country of Blessed Pope John Paul II the marchers are not only there to support life but marriage as well.  The most recent March was this past Sunday where marchers began at the symbolic monument to the Shipyard Workers victims of communism, which displays three crosses with crucified anchors. Some of the marchers carried long strips of cloth on which was inscribed the full text of the Vatican document, Donum Vitae (The gift of life) which addresses respect for human life at its origin and the dignity of procreation.


The Prague March for Life is an annual demonstration protesting abortion held in Prague in late March, close to Saturday, Day of the Unborn Child (25th March). The event was created in 2001.  Estimates of the number of marchers in 2013 is near 3,000.


Berlin was not the only surprise March this year as Slovakia recently held their first March ever and ended up attracting over 80,000 marchers!  LifeSiteNews.com has more on this March:


So many came that the 2.5 kilometer route was too short to accommodate all the marchers, according to an on-the-spot account by Hlavné Správy, a local news service, and the crowd shut down most streets in the city’s core. Although the March was supposed to have started by 12:30 pm, by 3 pm most of the crowd “had not yet budged because of the huge mass of people who completely fill the street”. 


The March for Life was held on the same weekend as the Gay Pride demonstration in the capital, Bratislava, which reportedly attracted about 1000 participants.


Organizers of the March for Life said their aim was to mobilize the public to advise legislators that the “protection of life, and family consisting of a married man and woman as indispensable basis for the stability and development of life in Slovakia has public support.” 

Last, but far from least, our own Jeanne Monahan participated in Italy’s third March for Life this past May.  Joining 40,000 other Marchers in Rome she heard inspiring words from Pope Francis:


“I greet the participants in the ‘March for Life,’ which took place this morning in Rome and I invite all to continue to be attentive to this very important issue of respect for human life from the moment of conception,”


While I didn’t know Nellie enough to know if she was a world traveler – her spirit and passion for life seems to have touched down on all parts of the globe!

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