Salutations to you! How are you doing? Hopefully this message finds you well. As a parish family we are so blessed to have the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima visit us today. Ever since 1947 this particular statue has traveled all over the world and thousands of believers and non-believers alike have been impacted by it. That being stated, I think that it would be helpful to offer some explanatory remarks about Our Lady of Fatima.
In the heart and center of Portugal you'll find a city by the name of Fatima. For hundreds of years it was a simple village with humble citizens who worked the land and tended sheep. On May 13th, 1917 its history was forever changed when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three children. Their names were Lucía dos Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto. In God's Providential Plan these three children were cousins and, in spite of their youth, they were caretakers of sheep, that is to say little shepherds. It was to those three little shepherds that Our Blessed Mother appeared on the 13th day of May, June, July, September, and October.
She did not appear in the month of August because the three children were detained in a jail and interrogated about their supposed visions by local authorities. Skepticism and outright disbelief were common reactions to the messages that the children received - even from their own family and friends. Though frightened the children courageously maintained their testimony of what they saw and shared the messages that they had heard from Our Lady.
The primary message that she communicated was to pray, specifically the Rosary, on a daily basis for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world. Since her appearances preceded the conclusion of the First World War and prior to the start of World War II the importance of her message cannot easily be overstated. In hopes of hearing part of her final message a large crowd of people (some estimate between 30,000 and 100,000) gathered together on October 13, 1917. Many claimed to have witnessed “The Miracle of the Sun,” wherein the sun seemed to move around and even came close to scorching the Earth. This was a confirmation for many that Our Blessed Mother was indeed appearing. Thirteen years after this date in 1930 the local Bishop declared that the appearances were “worthy of belief.”
Millions of pilgrims now travel to Fatima on an annual basis to grow in their relationship with Our Blessed Mother, who ultimately desires to lead us into a deeper friendship with her Son, Jesus Christ. With the International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima here today let us lift up our prayers for peace and the conversion of sinners so that we would all be courageous witnesses - like the Servant of God Lucía dos Santos and Saints Francisco and Jacinta - for the greater glory of God.