Hundreds of thousands of people gathered last Sunday in Pope Francis’ home country of Argentina to come together and march for the “Great Rally for Life.”

The march took place almost a week after the debate began for the legalization of abortion in Argentina on March 25th, the National Day of the Unborn Child. The day purposefully coincides with the Feast of the Annunciation, the traditional day when the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived the Christ Child.

Almost a hundred thousand people from over two hundred cities participated in the day’s events “in favor of life” under the slogan of “Save Them Both.” The largest gathering took place in the country’s capital of Buenos Aires, seeing a turnout of over 50,000 people, with other cities seeing over 20,000 people joining the march. The event, an annual celebration organized by various lay organizations since 1998, was joined in person by various Catholic bishops and priests, including Archbishop Ñáñez of Córdoba.

This years march took on a special meaning after President Mauricio Macri approved an abortion debate in the national senate, the first time a measure of its kind was introduced. President Macri has said if a bill was passed legalizing abortion, he would not exercise his veto powers.

Watch a video of the rally in Buenos Aires below:

Throughout the dense crowds, people held signs with various pro life slogans: “Day of the unborn child, Córdoba in favor of life,” “I have 8 weeks to live. My life is in your hands,” “Yes to life, not to abortion,” and “We love all lives.” One participant commented about the reasons they were marching, and why it is so important in the politically charged landscape.

“We are here to defend the life of the most innocent and defenseless person. We must all be united to fight against those who are behind all this. We know that the business of abortion moves a lot of money, in addition to donations of organs or members of fetuses that have been aborted. We will always defend the unborn child. We must avoid mass extermination or genocide.”

On social media, over seventy bishops showed their support for the event by sharing pictures of themselves holding up signs that read #ValeTodaVida, meaning “every life counts.”

The event, which received little attention and was dismissed as simply a small “group of people” by local media, is “ecumenical and apolitical,” according to the event organizers.

“In Argentina it is a special celebration, not only because our country was the first in Latin America to recognize the need to have this date, but it was also the first in the world to effectively institute it in December 1998.”

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