YOUNGSTOWN — One hundred years ago, on Oct. 13, 1917, an estimated 70,000 pilgrims travelled to the Cova da Iria, of Fatima, Portugal, to witness the miracle promised by the Blessed Mother. Our Lady appeared six times to three shepherd children, on the 13th of each month from May to October of 1917, each time exhorting them to "Pray, pray, pray."
The Barnabite Fathers at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Youngstown will mark the 100th anniversary of Our Lady's appearances throughout 2017. The primary focus will be on the substance of Our Lady's messages and on a call to renew our commitment to living what she asked of us.
On Saturday, May 13, Our Lady of Fatima Shrine will mark the opening of the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions with a Rosary procession at 3 p.m., and a solemn Mass offered by Bishop Richard J. Malone at 4 p.m. Three new bronze statues of the three children will also be dedicated this day.
Sunday, Aug. 13 falls on the same day as the shrine's annual Coronation Sunday, whereby the 13-foot tall statue atop the dome basilica will be crowned during the 3 p.m. Sunday rosary procession. An 8 p.m. candlelight rosary procession will close the day's celebration. The anniversary of Oct. 13, 1917, will be celebrated on the weekend of Oct. 13-15. Special guest speakers and concerts are being scheduled.
In 1917, Our Lady asked Lúcia dos Santos, and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, to pray and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sins and outrages. She asked them to pray the Rosary every day for world peace, asked for five Communions of reparation on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month as a necessary means to lasting repentance, conversion and amendment of life, asked the children to "pray a great deal and make sacrifices," and asked all to wear the brown scapular every day - as Sister Lucia would say years later, the brown scapular and the Rosary are inseparable.
The messages that Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta received were never meant for just them. We are all called to prayer, conversion of heart, and to make reparation for sins. Furthermore, we are called to intercessory prayer for those in most need of prayer and conversion - to save souls. Our Lady was reminding us of our duty and responsibility to pray for sinners, and of our obligation to pray for the holy souls in purgatory.
Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year in honor of this anniversary, and has granted a plenary indulgence for all those who visit with devotion, and pray before any statue of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory or proper place on the 13th of each month from May to October 2017, and there devoutly participate in some celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary, pray the Our Father, recite the creed and invoke Our Lady of Fatima. Other conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence include confession, Holy Communion, interior detachment from all sin, and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father.
For more information about any of these events, call the shrine office at 716-754-7489 for details. Fatima Shrine is located at 1023 Swann Rd., off Route 18, in Youngstown, NY 14174.