Nearly 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. In 2017, the World Apostolate of Fatima in England and Wales is promoting the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions through a programme of visitations to Cathedrals by the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, and Relics of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco.
Centenary celebrations started with a Visitation of the Statue and Relics to Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, 18 February, when Cardinal Vincent Nichols crowned the statue and celebrated Mass. Celebrations continue until October with visits to 18 of the Cathedrals in England and Wales, including the Cathedral Church of St Marie from 12-13 August. For details about these Visitations go to: http://www.worldfatima-englandwales.org.uk/visitation.html.
The work of the World Apostolate of Fatima involves promoting the message that Our Lady gave at Fatima, when she spoke of the necessity of personal conversion, penance, and prayer, and particularly the importance of praying the Rosary for peace. She also asked for the Five First Saturdays devotion of reparation and the consecration of Russia, and promised that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph and a period of peace would be given to the world. The international World Apostolate of Fatima was officially approved by the Church as a Public Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right in October, 2010.
The Fatima message is more relevant than ever today, especially for the family. Pope St John Paul II said that the Church accepted the message of Fatima because it repeats Our Lord’s call, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1: 15); and after the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta on 13 May, 2000, he said it is, “a message of conversion and hope which is the true Gospel of Christ”.
In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI expressed the hope that, “the message of Fatima will be increasingly accepted, understood and lived in every community,” and Pope Francis, too, has been very supportive of Fatima, and is due to visit the Shrine in May, 2017.
A special Centenary Crown was made in Portugal for the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima. This accompanies the statue as it journeys around England and Wales, and is used to crown it during the Visitations.
Pope Francis 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.
The centenary year is important since it offers the Church a chance to look again at the message of Fatima – which is really a compendium of the Gospel for our times – and realise that the Fatima message and the Rosary are powerful weapons against modern secularism. The most important thing is not to let the centenary go by without doing something to deepen one’s knowledge of Fatima.
More information about the World Apostolate of Fatima and the Message of Fatima can be found on the website of the World Apostolate of Fatima International Secretariat, at: www.worldfatima.com. There are more details about the World Apostolate of Fatima England and Wales at: www.worldfatima-englandwales.org.uk.