SCRANTON -- A summer tradition and annual religious pilgrimage for many is underway in Scranton.
The 93rd solemn novena to St. Ann began Monday.
Masses and novena services are held every day at St. Ann's Basilica in west Scranton from now until St. Ann's feast day on July 26.
It was a quiet morning for the first day of the 93rd solemn novena as people came out to pray to Jesus' grandmother.
Mass and novena services will be held every day at 8 a.m. and 11:45 a m., and 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p m. Novena service only will be every afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
There will also be various special services held throughout the next 10 days including the Mass of anointing the sick this Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
Thousands are expected to attend Masses each day and the feast day services on July 26 are expected to bring 15,000 people from all over, including people from northeastern and central Pennsylvania who have come every year for decades.
"This is a place of peace and prayer, and so many times we think there isn't any faith left in the world, and you come here and know that there is," said Rita Ives of Nanticoke.
Darlene Solomon says she's been coming long before she was a grandmother, but it's even more special to her now that she is one herself.
"We pray for peace, and our church and our churches and our priests, and everyone in the world," Solomon said.
"Absolutely amazing," said Fr. Paul Ruttle. "They come by the thousands. It's a unique experience in Scranton.
"I will come just about as many days Interstate 81 allows me to get here. I do try to make it all nine days," said Ives.
Many say it wouldn't be the solemn novena without the heat, humidity and of course, summer storms. Paramedics will be here all week, and organizers say they will move any outside Mass inside if needed because of the weather.
"The storms come right down off the mountain over there, blow in suddenly, and then they just move into the church if that happens," said Fr. Ruttle.
The summer weather doesn't stop people from coming out to pray to St. Ann.
"That's part of it, that's what it's like. People come with their children and their pets, and everyone spreads out their blankets on the grass. It's just a beautiful place of prayer, and inclusion, and community," added Fr. Ruttle.