NEW YORK — The Shrine of Our Lady of Magadan in Siberia will lead off the fifth annual Global Rosary Relay for Priests, which begins at midnight June 27 and involves 85 shrines in 46 countries.

Over a 24-hour period, the shrines are assigned a specific time and decade of the rosary to pray and offer thanks to God for the priesthood and ask Mary to protect "all her priestly sons," said an announcement on the relay.

June 27 is the feast of the Sacred Heart and World Priest Day.

The event is an initiative of WorldPriest, a nonprofit Catholic apostolate founded and headed by Marion Mulhall, with offices in New York and Dublin.

Mulhall called it "a great gift of much joy" that Pope Francis has given his apostolic blessing for the rosary relay.

In a message to organizers, "he has assured all those who are taking part in the event of his spiritual closeness," said the announcement. "He will be praying to our Blessed Mother to always guide and protect priests who are consecrated to the joyful and indispensable mission of proclaiming the Gospel and offering God's people, through the celebration of the sacraments, the closeness, the word and the strength of Christ."

Mulhall started the event in June 2010 with just 24 participating shrines and this year that number has more than tripled.