GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Some 350,000 people participated on Thursday in the start of the 80th Holy Convocation, the most important festivity celebrated by the Church of the Light of the World, a Christian sect based in the western Mexican city of Guadalajara.
Church leader Naason Joaquin Garcia said that delegates from as many as 57 countries were in attendance, adding that new members from Poland, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe will join the congregation for the first time in the history of the church.
Holy Convocation ends Aug. 14 with the Holy Supper, which commemorates the final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
“Their presence marks the end of the first stage of our Holy Convocation, (which is) travel and arrival” Garcia said. “Now, we will go on to the second stage: meditation and contemplation ahead of Aug. 14.”
Pastor Garcia welcomed the delegations with a parade in which representatives chanted and waved their countries’ flags.
The ceremony was also attended by various political figures, such as former first lady and presidential candidate Margarita Zavala, as well as National and State Human Rights Commission representatives Gabriela Ruiz and Alfonso Hernandez Barron, respectively.
Pilgrims began pouring into the city last weekend, and some 500,000 people are expected to gather for Holy Supper.
The church says that it has 1.8 million followers worldwide.