I first saw the classic movie “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” in the 1960s when I was a child at the now-closed Sacred Heart of Mary School in Graceland Park. Only a few details remain in my mind from that childhood viewing: the lovely voice of the beautiful Lady of Fatima; the fear I felt for the children, especially Lucia, when their parents and parish priest thought they were lying about seeing the Blessed Mother (Lucia being slapped across the face by her mother has always stuck in my mind); and the awe and joy of the villagers near the end of the movie at the great miracle of the sun. I certainly didn’t understand much of what took place, but the reverence that the teaching Sisters displayed that day was enough to instill in me a childlike love for Our Lady of Fatima.
The 1988 documentary “Fatima” hosted by Ricardo Montalban wove scenes from the 1952 movie with actual film clips from World Wars 1 and 2. They also included news accounts and interviews with eyewitnesses of the October 17, 1917 “miracle of the sun.” This 12-minute miracle was reportedly witnessed by over 80,000 people.
I showed this documentary to my Religion classes at John Carroll for over 25 years. We discussed the six apparitions and talked about the “secrets” along with the historical context of the Church in 1917 Portugal. Each time I watched the movie and the documentary I took away something new.
The Statue from the Fatima Shrine
When plans for yesterday’s Marian Day (October 13) were unveiled in August, I was delighted to hear that Pope Francis would consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during this Year of Faith in the presence of the historic statue of Our Lady of the Rosary from Fatima. The messages of the Blessed Virgin in 1917 included reparation for sin and devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
Photo: CNS/Paul Haring
Photo by Vatican Radio
The iconic statue arrived in Vatican City this past Saturday afternoon, having travelled only eleven times from the Fatima Shrine’s Chapel of Apparitions since it was made in 1920. The statue was sculpted according to the memory of how Our Lady appeared to the three young shepherd children.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI prayed before the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary in the afternoon at his Vatican residence. (Photo by L’osservatore Romano)
After a prayer vigil to our Blessed Mother with the statue on Saturday evening, Sunday’s celebration included recitation of the rosary, joined with people gathered at Marian shrines around the world, followed by Mass in Saint Peter’s Square.
Archbishop Lori and his brother bishops join in the Marian Day prayer and celebrations. (Photo by Vatican Radio)
In his homily, Pope Francis invited us to consider “one of the marvelous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.” He went on to reflect on three themes: God surprises us, God asks us to be faithful, God is our strength. Read the complete text of Pope Francis’ homily here.
I was in downtown Baltimore early yesterday on the Marian Day and went to Mass at one of the beautiful old churches. The cantor had a lovely soprano voice and sang the “Ave Maria” before Mass began. The Holy Communion meditation was Carey Landry’s “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman,” a song which I have always found very prayerful. Though no other mention was made there of the Marian Day, I was grateful to have this beautiful music to carry with me throughout the day.
Having a deep love for our Blessed Mother, the words of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope Francis are not only beautiful and prayerful, but are constant reminders of the Mother of Jesus and of us all who intercedes for us in the joys and sorrows of our daily lives.
Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (Photo CNA/Lauren Cater)
Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima,
with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence
we join our voice to that of all the generations
who call you blessed.
We celebrate in you the works of God,
who never tires of looking down with mercy
upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin,
to heal it and save it.
Accept with the benevolence of a Mother
the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence,
before this image of you that is so dear to us.
We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes
and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you.
We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard
and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.
Hold our life in your arms:
bless and strengthen every desire for good;
revive and nourish faith;
sustain and enlighten hope;
awaken and animate charity;
guide all of us along the path of holiness.
Teach us your own preferential love
for the little and the poor,
for the excluded and the suffering,
for sinners and the downhearted:
bring everyone under your protection
and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.
Photo by Vatican Radio
May we pray these words of consecration often to renew our love and devotion to our
Blessed Mother and her Immaculate Heart.