French Catholics defied coronavirus woes and marched in a procession on Friday towards the Notre-Dame Cathedral as part of a weeks-long pilgrimage even as the government declared Paris a high-risk zone. Government data showed more than 2,500 new infections of the novel coronavirus in France for the third day in a row. Nearly 2,000 people marched behind a carriage transporting a statue of the Virgin Mary at the procession ahead of the celebration of the feast of Assumption, marked by Catholics as the day when Jesus’ mother Mary rose into heaven, due on Aug. 15.The procession is part of two 140-day long pilgrimages – one from the French city of Lourdes and one from the city of La Salette. Both started on June 1 and will conclude in September, with participants walking more than 2,000 kilometres.Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit said participants have been careful in observing health measures set by the government, such us wearing masks. “It’s a bit of a message of hope in these difficult times that we’re living through. It’s true that COVID-19 made us hesitate, but by taking precautions … we know that we could protect ourselves quite well,” he said.