Delmont Christmas Pilgrimage


For more than 50 years, the faithful have gathered at Shields Farm for the annual Delmont Christmas Pilgrimage, this year set for Dec. 2-3 from 5-9 p.m.

On the weekend the pilgrimage begins, thousands begin their journey at the historic log cabin at the farm, and then walk the field where they encounter eight live-action scenes portraying the Christmas story. They witness the encounters that Mary and Joseph had with the angels, experience their journey to Bethlehem, hear a recreation of the Good News being told to shepherds and Wise Men,and, finally, rejoice in the birth of Christ.

During the pilgrimage, camels and other live animals dot the field, accentuated by dramatic music and soft lighting. At the end of the pilgrimage, visitors see and can interact with Mary and Joseph and the Christ Child in a barn that serves as a manger.

As part of the pilgrimage, five churches in the area offer different activities and food. Among them is St. John Baptist de La Salle Parish. When you drive into the parish parking lot, you are warmly welcomed by the glowing luminaria and an Advent wreath that symbolizes the anticipation of His birth. Inside the church vestibule, an oversized Advent calendar and “Jesse Tree” decorated with biblical characters in Jesus’ family tree stand with a welcome message for all.

For those attending the pilgrimage, Mass is celebrated at the parish at 4 p.m. St. Nicholas greets those leaving Mass with small treats for children.

The parish hall is decorated with the theme of “Lighting Our Way to Christ,” with music, food for purchase and a chance to do some Christmas shopping. Secular Franciscans are on hand to talk about how St. Francis of Assisi began the
custom of a live Nativity in the 1220s.

Attending the annual pilgrimage is a tradition for Betsy Ahearn, a parishioner of St. James Parish, New Alexandria. In 1974, after the birth of her son, Ahearn brought him to the pilgrimage each year. Now she brings her granddaughter. She said she feels the event demonstrates the true meaning of Christmas, especially for young people.

“It’s a time they can truly reflect and really know what Christmas is about,” Ahearn said.
Free bus transportation will take pilgrims to Shields Farm and return them to the parish parking lot. Activities at St. John Baptist de La Salle Parish are free.

Tickets and information about the pilgrimage are available at


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