A finalidade do encontro, nas palavras da Comissão Organizadora, era "para expressar como a Virgem Maria, mãe de Deus, é o ícone da fé de cada crente e como Ela, na sua confiante obediência à vontade do Pai operou maravilhas genuínas".
Presença de destaque durante as celebrações foi a Imagem original de Nossa Senhora de Fátima venerada na Capelinha das Aparições, em Portugal. Em carta dirigida ao bispo de Leiria-Fátima, D. Antonio Marto, o Presidente do Conselho Pontifício para a Nova Evangelização, Cardeal Rino Fisichella, escreveu: "o Santo Padre deseja fortemente que a Jornada Mariana possa acolher, como um sinal especial, um dos mais significativos ícones marianos para os cristãos em todo o mundo e, por essa razão, nós pensámos na amado Imagem original de Nossa Senhora de Fátima".
Do programa, constou uma peregrinação ao túmulo do Apóstolo São Pedro no dia 12 de outubro e um momento especial de oração e meditação na Praça de São Pedro, presidida pelo Papa Francisco, já na presença da Imagem de Nossa Senhora. Naquela noite, a Imagem foi levada para o santuário de Nossa Senhora do Divino Amor, na periferia de Roma, para uma vigília de oração. No dia 13 de outubro, o Santo Padre celebrou a Eucaristia e consagrou o mundo ao Imaculado Coração de Maria, na Praça de São Pedro. Por causa do significado deste evento para todo o mundo e para o nosso Apostolado em particular, destacamos aqui os momentos mais marcantes do programa (segue relatório do evento em inglês):
The Beginning of the Journey to Rome
The Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, made by José Ferreira Thedim, in 1920, and venerated in the Little Chapel of Apparitions, departed from the Sanctuary of Fatima to Rome, in an atmosphere of prayer, early morning October 12.
In its place, in the Little Chapel of Apparitions, was placed the First Statue of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima enthroned in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima on December 8, 2003. This trip to Rome was the 12th time this Statue left the Shrine of Fatima and the 3rd time it had the Vatican as its destination, in this case always at the request of the Pope. Let us recall that, in 1984, at the request of Pope John Paul II, the Statue made its seventh pilgrimage. It was taken, on March 24, 1984, to Rome, where, one day later, in St. Peter’s Square, during the celebration of Mass presided over by John Paul II, the consecration of the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was made, in union with the Bishops of the whole world. It was also on that day that Blessed John Paul II donated to Our Lady the bullet which struck him during the attempt on his life on May 13, 1981. This bullet was later on (1989) encased in the precious crown of Our Lady, where it is still located today.
The Venerable Statue would once again return to St. Peter’s Square, in the Vatican, for its eighth departure from Fatima, on October 8, 2000, where, in the presence of approximately 1500 bishops from throughout the world and thousands of faithful and pilgrims, Pope John Paul II consecrated the New Millennium to the Most Holy Virgin.
Now, this October 12/13 was the first time the Statue was absent from Cova da Iria during an International Anniversary Pilgrimage.
One can say however that, the selection of the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima to be in Rome at this event was very meaningful. The Rector of the Fatima shrine expresses this same idea by saying that “it showed the timeliness and opportunity of the Message of Fatima – an authentic “school of faith” – and its universal outreach and reinforced the connection between Fatima and the Pope, stressing the communion with him. The Holy Father is a figure of particular importance in the Message of Fatima and praying for him and his intentions is daily practice at the Shrine. On the other hand, the request for the presence of the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima in Rome also revealed the love of Successor of Peter for Fatima and its Message”.
The Statue was escorted by the Portuguese police to Lisbon airport and travelled to Rome in a commercial flight, taking a passenger’s seat. A delegation from the Shrine of Fatima, headed by Rector of the Shrine, Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas, accompanied the image. (Adapted from LeopolDina Simões, Fatima Shrine)
Our Lady of Fatima in Rome with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Upon arrival at the heliport of the Vatican, a procession was already formed to lead the Statue to the Monastery Mater Ecclesia, where Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resides. After entering the gate of the little Monastery, at the top of the stairway leading to the chapel there was Benedict XVI with his entourage to receive the Statue from Cova da Iria. The roles had been reversed since his visit to Fatima. Now it was the Statue of the Virgin of Fatima that was visiting him.
Upon entering the Monastery, the Pope greeted the Statue with a reverent nod and, after placed in the center of the chapel, presided over the Marian prayer, made up of hymns of praise, whose chant the Pope would initiate, and by two prayers that he himself had once written: one at the conclusion of his Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” and the other one, a prayer he used in his pastoral visit to the Shrine of Loreto, in 2007.
At the end of prayer, Benedict XVI approached the Statue to touch and kiss it; but, because his cassock didn’t let him kiss it, the Pope Emeritus decided, instead, to touch the sculpture with both hands in a very touching way. The sculpture continued on procession to St. Martha’s House, where it remained exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the Pope’s chapel. From there it would leave for St. Peter’s Square, thus beginning its official program within that of the Marian Day for the conclusion of the Year of Faith. (By Marco Daniel Duarte, Fatima shrine)
Our Lady of Fatima welcomed by Pilgrims and Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square
The great encounter of the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima with Pope Francis and the pilgrims, who, from all over the world, had traveled to Rome, was scheduled for the afternoon of October 12, at St. Peter’s Square. The pilgrims’ love for the Pope and Our Lady was quite obvious, shown by an immense joy, often to the point of tears. Thousands of faithful shouted ‘Long live Mary! Long live the Pope’ at the passage of the white Statue of Our Lady of Fatima carried in procession. As the Statue processed through St. Peter’s Square towards the altar, it stopped precisely at the spot where Pope John Paul II was shot, on May 13, 1981. There a Hail Mary was said. The hymns of Fatima, sometimes in Portuguese, heard there and the thousands of the white handkerchiefs being waved reminded us of Cova da Iria, where, practically at the same time, had begun October’s International Anniversary Pilgrimage, presided over by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then still Secretary of State of the Vatican.
On arrival at St. Peter’s Square, Holy Father Francis placed a rosary at the feet of the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Afterwards, while still next to the Statue, he made his catechesis. He began by placing the celebration being held there within the Year of Faith: “This encounter during the Year of Faith is dedicated to Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, Our Mother. Her Statue, brought from Fatima, helps us feel Her presence here in our midst”.
Concluded his Marian Catechesis, Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas, Rector of the Shrine of Fatima, greeted Pope Francis and offered him the official rosary of the Shrine of Fatima. Sister Ângela Coelho, Postulator for the Cause of Canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, also was able to greet the Pope and offer him relics of the Little Shepherds, Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto, and a fragment of the holmoak (azinheira) over which Our Lady appeared to them in August 1917, at Valinhos, Aljustrel. At the moment he received the relics, Pope Francis kissed them tenderly and asked us to pray for him. From this moment, the Postulator recalls, above all, “the joy of the Holy Father and the attention with which he listened and spoke with each one”. (LeopolDina Simões – Fatima Shrine).
World Apostolate of Fatima present in Rome!
Many members of the World Apostolate of Fatima travelling with their Bishops and priests from countries such as Nigeria, USA, Czech Republic, Switzerland, England, Ireland, Slovakia and of course, Italy, have participated actively in the celebrations of the Marian Day in Rome, representing very well our Apostolate.
Some were in the midst of the large crowd of pilgrims, holding the WAF banner and praising with heartfelt emotion the Venerable Statue of Our Lady as she processed into St. Peter’s square. Other members of the WAF delegation had been invited to take their seats next to Pope Francis and to the Statue of Our Lady, on the main atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica. So much so that, at the end of the Marian catechesis of the Holy Father, that Saturday, October 12th, in representation of the World Apostolate of Fatima, Mr. Timothy Tindal-Robertson, President of the WAF in England and Wales, had the opportunity to greet the Holy Father and tell him: “I am from England, and represent the WAF and we are very, very happy about the act which Your Holiness is going to make, and we in the WAF promise to pray the Rosary every day for your intentions”.
The presence of WAF members in Rome was also an opportunity for offering the Media more information about who we are and what our mission is. In fact, it was with joy that members of the WAF delegation in Rome availed themselves to give interviews to various newspapers and television channels. Prof. Américo Lopez Ortiz, international President, who could not travel to Rome due to an injury, also offered some insights on this special event which are published in this magazine.
Returning of the Statue to Fatima
After the Mass celebration on October 13th, presided over by Pope Francis in St.Peter’s square, at the end of which he read the Act of Entrustment to Our Lady of Fatima, the Statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima returned to Her Shrine in Cova da Iria.
At the Little Chapel of Apparitions were waiting for Her the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, several priests and hundreds of pilgrims. After the Statue was put back on Her pedestal, Bishop António Marto repeated the prayer of entrustment said by Pope Francisco during the morning of that day, in Rome. It was a time of praise to God for the graces received during this pilgrimage. Bishop Marto: “The presence of the Statue in Rome means the presence of Our Lady in the entire Universal Church as a Mother Who solicitous follows the pilgrim people, especially during the most difficult times of their lives; that is why the Holy Father wanted the original statue present, statue of Her Who came here, from Heaven to Earth, with a message of consolation at a difficult time both for the Church and Mankind”.
Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas, Rector of the Shrine of Fatima, who headed a delegation of nine people accompanying the Statue, showed to those present the rosary the Holy Father had placed at the feet of the Statue, in St. Peter’s Square. He stressed that it was a “particularly significant” gift, for it was “an authentic program of life, since the most insistent request Our Lady made was that we pray the Rosary”. (LeopolDina Simões – Fatima Shrine).
This article quotes extensively texts from the Fatima Shrine’s Bulletin “Fatima-Light and Peace”, November 2013, whose authors are indicated at the end of each text.