SCRANTON -- For many Catholics in the Scranton area, it wouldn't be July without the Solemn Novena to St. Ann. And it wouldn't be The Novena without the extreme heat.
Despite the weather, still hundreds came out for the first of 10 days to worship St. Ann, Jesus' grandmother.
The rector said they average 5,500 people each day.
Sisters Dottie Treski and Chris Ambrosia from Scranton are prime examples of why people come to the west side each summer to pray to St. Ann.
Chris believes prayers to Jesus' grandmother cured her childhood blindness. And Dottie has her own miracle from St. Ann, her grandchildren.
"The one she lost, then she got pregnant after I came here and she had twins. So, I really do believe in it. I could cry when I even talk about it," Dottie said.
Whether their prayers have been answered by her or not, still thousands turn up to St. Ann's Basilica in west Scranton over the course of 10 days to attend a service or walk the grounds. Many come each year over the course of a lifetime, like Patrick Cannon of Nanticoke, who volunteers sitting for hours out in the heat.
"I drink extra water, I eat as much as I can, and I go inside as much as I can," Cannon said.
One service a day is held inside St. Ann's striking sanctuary, where there's air conditioning. Hundreds turn out for each mass, most of which are held outside in the sun.
"Hopefully the preachers will not preach too long. We have the tent, the church has air conditioners, we have the EMT's here that are here for the entire 10 days," said the Rector of St. Ann's Basilica, Fr. Jim Price, C.P.
Those EMT's are hoping for a quiet week, since it seems nothing will stop the faithful from coming to the novena. It's much more than a summer tradition, it's a chance to relax, refresh, and pray.
"There's always someone sick in your family, you pray for them, you pray for the poor souls in Purgatory, there's always something to pray for. And you include yourself so you're able to keep going," said Ann Wullert of Scranton.
The Solemn Novena to St. Ann runs for 10 days ending on St. Ann's feast day on July 26.