Catholics hold traditional Whit Monday ceremony in Germany

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Catholics hold traditional Whit Monday ceremony in Germany
Women dressed in the traditional clothes of the Sorbs carry the statue of Virgin Mary during a procession in front of the Roman Catholic pilgrimage church in Rosenthal, eastern Germany, Monday, June 10, 2019. Traditionally on White Monday catholic faithful Sorbs, a Slavic minority near the German-Polish border, celebrate an open air mass in the small village east of Dresden. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

BERLIN (AP) — Women in traditional white dresses have carried a centuries-old statue of the Virgin Mary to mark Whit Monday in an annual ritual in the eastern German town of Rosenthal.

Hundreds of Catholic Sorbs, a Slavic minority, held prayers in rural churches in about a dozen areas before walking to Rosenthal for another service. They then ended their pilgrimage walking with the young women carrying the 1480 wooden statue of Mary through the town to a field for an open-air mass.

The ritual marks Whit Monday, the day after Whitsun or Pentecost, which falls seven weeks after Easter Sunday and is the day the Holy Spirit is said to have descended upon the apostles.

The day is a national holiday in Germany and many other countries.