Tomorrow, October 13th, marks the 96th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fátima, Portugal. As it is the Year of Faith and our Holy Father has a great devotion to Our Lady – especially under her title of Our Lady of Fátima – a special Marian Day has been planned in the Vatican for this weekend. Thousands of pilgrims have converged upon Rome to hear catechesis on the Blessed Mother, receive the Sacrament of Penance, participate in Marian devotions, and tomorrow, attend a Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square.
Though I will be avoiding the crowds, I thought it was important to point out this event for a few different reasons:
1. The original statue of Our Lady of Fátima has been brought to Rome for the occasion. Pope John Paul II had a great devotion to Our Lady also, and since he was shot on the feast day of Our Lady of Fátima (May 13) and believed that it was due to her intercession that his life was spared, he made a pilgrimage to the Shrine in Fátima after he recovered. As an act of homage – really a sort of ex voto – he left in the statue’s crown one of the bullets that the surgeons had extracted from his body.
2. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, intends to carry out some kind of Act of Consecration, dedicating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, at the conclusion of tomorrow’s Mass. This is clearly in continuity with the wishes that Our Lady expressed at Fátima and the actions of previous popes. (In this regard, there is a tinfoil hat crowd who believe that her wishes were never properly fulfilled by previous popes, so they are now anxious to see if Francis will do it “correctly”, and if he doesn’t [in their solemn judgment], they will start a new round of hand-wringing. But I digress.)
3. Tomorrow is also the anniversary of the extraordinary solar phenomenon that accompanied the last vision at Fátima – the Miracle of the Sun. EWTN has a helpful page that gives the facts about this great miracle that 70,000 people witnessed and that was reported in the secular press.
If all goes as planned, I will be making a quick trip to Fátima next month; I will take up a collection of prayer intentions closer to that time.
Our Lady of Fátima, pray for us.