MUMBAI, India – India joined more than 50 other countries in praying for priests on Friday.

It is the ninth year of the initiative, in which people gather at over 150 Marian shrines around the world to pray the rosary in thanksgiving for the ministry of priests, and to ask Our Lady for their protection.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount – in the Bandra neighbourhood of Mumbai – hosted the faithful in praying the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, bringing together nearly 200 religious and over 250 lay faithful.

“With the coming of midnight on June 8 2018, the entire world, by then, will have been encircled in prayer for our priests on this The Annual Rosary Relay Day,” said Bishop John Rodrigues, the rector of the basilica.

WorldPriest, the organization which promotes the event, said in a statement that each of the participating shrines prays a particular mystery of the Rosary at a particular half hour.

The “prayer relay” is taking place on the feast of the Sacred Heart.

“It is an opportunity for us to raise our hearts to God for all priests in the exercise of their ministry,” – the statement said – “that they will be blessed, through our prayers, with God’s grace for their priesthood; that in this worldwide communion of prayer for them, they may experience our gratitude and support; and finally that they will persevere in unity with Christ and his Church and shepherd the Lord’s flock to the safe pastures of his Kingdom.”

Rodrigues told Crux that the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, welcomed the initiative and chose the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount to participate in the event.

“The Basilica has a relic containing a drop of blood of St. Pope John Paul II presented by Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, the apostolic nuncio to India, to the basilica. Pope John Paul II had visited this basilica in 1986,” the bishop said.

Rodrigues led the service by praying the first decade of the sorrowful mysteries. He was followed by the 95-year-old former rector, Msgr. Nereus Rodrigues, who led the second and third  mysteries. The current vice-rector, Father Michael Goveas, prayed the fourth and fifth mysteries.