Article by Donal Anthony Foley, Secretary, World Apostolate of Fatima, England and Wales
One hundred years ago, from May to October 1917, Our Lady appeared to three young shepherd children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos, at Fatima in Portugal. We are thus now in the Centenary year of the Fatima apparitions, and the World Apostolate of Fatima (WAF) in England and Wales will be commemorating this special event by means of a programme of Visitations to Cathedrals by the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, together with Relics of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco. This statue of Our Lady was blessed by Pope Paul VI at Fatima in May 1967, and given to this country by the Bishop of Fatima in 1968, and it was also blessed by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Britain in 1982.
The WAF programme will start with a Visitation of the Statue and Relics to Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 18 February 2017, from 1:45 pm onwards, when Cardinal Nichols will bless the statue and crown it with a new silvergilt Centenary Crown that is being specially made in Portugal by the same firm that made the richly bejewelled crown that is only worn on the 13th of May to October. You may read the Programme for this event by clicking here. The Cardinal will then preside at Mass and renew the consecration of England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that was made by Cardinal Griffin at Walsingham on 16 July 1948, whose image was installed in a new shrine in the chapel of St George and the English Martyrs, at a wonderful ceremony on 8 December 2016.
The Centenary Crown will be presented to Cardinal Nichols by Mr Jorge Leitao, whose grandfather made the original crown, and it is being offered to Our Lady by his company in return for whatever items of gold or silver, or jewellery with gold or silver, that people may wish to bring to the cathedral to offer to Our Lady after the Mass. This is how the original crown was made in Portugal in 1942. A receipt will be given to the donor, and the items will be transferred to the offices of Leitao e Irmao in Portugal. People can also bring prayer petitions to Our Lady and the WAF will arrange for them to be placed under her statue at the exact location of the apparitions in the Chapel of the Apparitions in Fatima.
After Mass people will be able to venerate the relics of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco, and this will be followed, at 4:00 pm, by a Fatima Symposium in Westminster Cathedral Hall. The National Pilgrim Virgin Statue and Relics will be present in the Cathedral until 2:30 pm on Sunday 19 February.
The Symposium will include talks and discussion on the Centenary celebrations at Fatima by Nuno from the WAF Secretariat in Fatima, the famous crown of Our Lady at the Capelinha by Mr Jorge Leitao, the significance of the Fatima Message for the Family, and the importance of the Five First Saturdays devotion and the Rosary.
Please note that seats for the Fatima Symposium are very limited, so please book and pay in advance, £5 per seat, stating “Your name + Symposium” as the reference, directly to:
Apostolate of Fatima Swindon Cent Acc
Sort code: 20– 84–58
Account number: 83539490
To secure your seats, please then send an email to Jerry Rivera on firstname.lastname@example.org; contact number: 07919052207. And then we will send your tickets via post to your nominated postal address, if there are still seats available for you.
The Visitations will continue between May and October with visits to 18 of the Cathedrals in England and Wales, according to the schedule attached herewith, and we are delighted to inform you that Pope Francis has imparted his Apostolic Blessing “to all those persons who participate in the organised celebrations in the Cathedrals and churches gathered around the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima”.
In recognition of the significance of Our Lady’s apparitions, Pope Francis is travelling to Fatima on 13th May, for the one hundredth anniversary day of the first apparition in 1917. And the Pope has granted a special Fatima Centenary Plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, from 27 November 2016 to 26 November 2017, for those who go on Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Fatima, or visit an image of Our Lady of Fatima which is being publicly venerated on the 13th of each month from May to October 2017. Those who cannot travel can fulfil the conditions in front of a small image of Our Lady of Fatima.
We invite you to sign up for our Newsletter at: www.worldfatima-englandwales.org.uk/newsletter.html so you can be kept informed of future WAF events and initiatives. If you can’t attend the event in person, please join in spiritually on the day at Mass in your parish church, or at home by praying to an image of Our Lady of Fatima. Please email us via: www.worldfatima-englandwales.org.uk/contact.html if you would like to obtain one of these, together with the Fatima Prayers, for your personal use at home, or for your friends.
To conclude, we cordially invite as many people as possible to come to the Cathedral on Saturday 18 February to show their love and devotion for Our Lady of Fatima, and their desire to honour her in the country which is her Dowry.
Donal Anthony Foley is secretary of the World Apostolate of Fatima in England and Wales.