It's not just a run and not just a walk, but a "devotion in motion."
That's how organizers of St. Mary of Victories' first King to Queen Rosary Run are describing the event, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 6-8.
The 175-year-old parish, the second oldest in the city of St. Louis, is hoping to raise funds to support the upkeep of the church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
But more important, said pastor Father Brian Harrison, OS, is the opportunity to show St. Louis a "wonderful public witness to our faith."
"There are more and more marathons and marches through the streets of St. Louis — they're all secular," said Father Harrison. "This is giving a wonderful testament to our faith, on the feast of the Holy Rosary."
The 5K Rosary Run will be Saturday, Oct. 7, beginning at the Old Cathedral and through the streets near the Riverfront and ending at St. Mary of Victories; and a shorter Hungarian Fun Run/Walk — a nod to the Hungarian community that's been part of the parish since 1957. The race will conclude with a Victory Festival featuring food, music and activities for the family.
Parishioner Jason Walter, who developed the route for the race, said he'd been wanting to organize a Catholic-themed running event for some time. When he discovered that the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (Oct. 7) fell on a weekend, he knew that this would be the perfect fit for the event.
St. Mary of Victories, in fact, has a direct connection to the feast — but under a different name today. St. Pius V instituted Our Lady of Victory as a feast day on Oct. 7, marking the Christian victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title to Feast of the Holy Rosary, and in 1960, Pope John XXIII changed it to feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
The Rosary will be prayed at the start of the 8 a.m. race, with runners passing by images of the joyful mysteries. Runners will be given finger rosaries in their "swag bags" and encouraged to pray along the route. "Hopefully they will get in a few decades before they cross the finish line," said Walter.
Another highlight of the route is "Icon Alley," where spectators will be invited to bring their favorite icons or other religious images from home to cheer on runners. Beginning at 9:30, a bagpiper-led procession will leave from Icon Alley, heading toward the finish line.
On Friday, Oct. 6, nationally known author Father Raymond de Souza, KM, will speak on Our Lady of Fatima and the Rosary at 7 p.m. at the church. The festivities continue on Sunday, Oct. 8, with Masses at 9 a.m. (featuring the Novus Ordo in Latin and English); and 11 a.m. (English, with some Hungarian prayers and songs).
And if all of the fun along the race route isn't enough, the Victory Festival — featuring several bands, barbecue and drinks, children's games, Knights of Columbus clowns, cookie sale and church tours — should fill the gap for anyone seeking fun that weekend, said parishioner James Hooper.
"This is really our opportunity to show something beautiful," Hooper said. "We're bringing attention to this historic church in St. Louis, but we also want this to become a center for evangelization in our city."
>> King to Queen Rosary Run Weekend
WHERE: St. Mary of Victories, 744 South Third St. Downtown
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 6: Author and speaker Raymond De Souza will talk on "Fatima and the Rosary" at 7 p.m. Free-will donations will be accepted to benefit the church. Saturday, Oct. 7: 5K Run and Hungarian Fun Run/Walk; Mass will be celebrated at 7 a.m. at the Old Cathedral, where the race begins at 8 a.m. A Victory Festival featuring food, music and games will follow the race, at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 8: Festival Masses at 9 a.m. (featuring the Novus Ordo in Latin and English); and 11 a.m. (English, with some Hungarian prayers and songs)
MORE INFO: Register before Friday, Sept. 15, to avoid a price increase. To register or for more information, visit www.rosaryrun.com.