Rome Update — Statue Procession
Saturday, October 25
We concluded our trip to Rome today with a magnificent statue procession down the Via della Conciliazione and ending at St. Peter’s Square.
It is a relatively short street, running from the Castel Sant’Angelo on the north bank of the Tiber to the magnificent Square of Saint Peter.
The walk from the Castel to the Piazza conjures up an almost surreal state of mind and soul. Each step taken toward the beauty and splendor of the Basilica brings you one step closer to God in all of His glory.
In 1870, the army of the Kingdom of Italy marched into Rome and seized all of the Papal lands. The new regime unilaterally decided to force the Pope to become a subject of the new kingdom and refused to recognize the Vatican as an independent sovereign entity. For the next 59 years the Popes refused to leave the Vatican and thus yield to the authority being forced upon them. Pope Pius IX famously declared himself to be “a prisoner in the Vatican”.
In 1929, the Italian government and Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty, a conciliation of sorts between the Italian State and the Vatican. A provision of this treaty made Roman Catholicism the official religion of Italy. To celebrate the signing, a grand avenue was unveiled, Via della Conciliazione (Conciliation Way), that would link the Italian State — centered across the Tiber River and reached by the Ponte Sant’Angelo — with the Vatican State, thereby establishing the concept behind the treaty.
The symbolism of the history behind this street was not lost on any of us from the Fatima Center as we proceeded toward St. Peter’s Square, offering our own conciliation of sorts in the prayers that we were oblating for the Holy Father as Our Lady of Fatima had instructed us.
Our Lady, when She appeared at Lourdes, said that She wanted processions as an act of devotion to Her, and during the apparition at Valinhos, Portugal on August 19, 1917 Lucy asked the Blessed Mother, “What do you want them to do with the money the people leave at the Cova da Iria?” Our Lady replied,
Have two litters made. You will carry one with Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white; the other one Francisco is to carry, with three boys, like him, dressed in white. It will be for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
She therefore asked us, the faithful, to honor Her by processions and also by reciting the Rosary every day.
The Fatima Center staff sought to honor these simple requests by handing out free Rosaries to the many people who were drawn to the wondrous sight of the beautiful Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima as it made its way down this street in Rome. (See photo.)
Post-conciliar Rome has suffered greatly from a crisis of apathy with regards to the faith, so it was with trepidation but hopeful hearts that we set out that day with the small contingent of staff and volunteers that made the trip with us from North America and Ireland. Simple words cannot describe the joy we felt when we saw the number of people who had responded to our flyer campaign and came that day to join the procession.
Chief among them was Father Popian from St. Pio X Church outside of Rome, who joined Father Gruner in leading the prayers and hymns that day. (See photo.)
Volunteers from all walks of life, both young and old, took turns carrying the statue and the banners proclaiming Our Lady’s Message to all who would listen. (See photo.) As the procession neared St. Peter’s Square, we welcomed the Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, Gregory III (Laham), who is the spiritual leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. (See photo.)
The Melkite Catholic Church can trace its lineage all the way back to St. Peter, who was headquartered in Antioch after leaving Jerusalem, and before the eventual See of Rome. Gregory III is one of 13 recognized Patriarchs in the Catholic Church and his office is considered to be higher than that of a Cardinal.
He had heard of our procession and wished to join us. He embraced both Father Gruner and Father Popian and offered prayers and words of encouragement to the swell of people who had united with us.
Often when you engage in a campaign of some sort, there is a sense of combativeness. As you are well aware, for thirty years now the Fatima Center has sought the release of the entire Third Secret and adherence to all of the Mother of God’s requests at Fatima. Regrettably, we have faced condemnation from a variety of sources including high officials, such as the Secretary of State of the Vatican itself.
What joy then, to close the first phase of our Target Rome Crusade with a journey not fraught with controversy or accusation, but rather with spiritualness, togetherness and prayer, as people from the United Sates, Canada, Ireland and Italy united together with the grace of Our Lady in bringing Her Message to the very headquarters of Her Son’s Church. (See photo.)