In 1979 Sally Reynolds, a representative of Mothers of Mary of the Archdiocese of Detroit, asked the U.S. Bishops Conference and the Basilica of the National Shrine to co-sponsor a program of prayer on the eve of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. In its first year, 50 people gathered to celebrate the Mass in the Crypt Church and stayed through the night to pray for an end to abortion.
Today, the National Prayer Vigil for Life draws over 20,000 pilgrims to join in prayer for an end to abortion and a greater respect for all human life. The vigil begins on the eve of the March for Life with the Opening Mass celebrated in the Great Upper Church (pictured). Prayer continues throughout the night with the National Rosary for Life, Night Prayer and Holy Hours for Life coordinated by Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and led by seminarians from across the country. The following morning, the prayer vigil concludes with Morning Prayer, Benediction and the Closing Mass.
Sponsored by the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America Office of Campus Ministry, the National Prayer Vigil for Life is one small part of the Church's "great prayer for life."