Pontificate of Pope Francis Consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima!
May 13th, 2013 (the 96th anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition at the Cova da Iria) marked yet another milestone in the long road toward the Church’s eventual, but divinely guaranteed, response to Our Lady of Fatima’s requests.
It was reported on April 11th (within the first month of his election) that Pope Francis had already asked the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal, twice to consecrate his new pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. Cardinal Policarpo, addressing all the Portuguese bishops in their 181st Plenary Assembly, announced the Pope’s request for this consecration, and at the same time expressed his own desire that “all the episcopal conference [would join] itself to the realization of this request.”
The Portuguese bishops accordingly decided to make this collegial act at the conclusion of the Mass of the International Anniversary Pilgrimage on May 13th, the 96th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s first apparition.
The international pilgrimage was presided over by Brazilian Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, and (as Zenit News Agency reports) drew crowds of close to 570,000 people during its two-day celebrations, with more than 37,000 pilgrims walking to the holy site from various points of Portugal. A strong representation of clergy (including 37 bishops and 290 priests) was also in attendance.
At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Policarpo led the Portuguese Episcopal Conference in consecrating our Holy Father’s pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. “Most Holy Virgin,” he began, “We, the Bishops of Portugal and this crowd of pilgrims, stand at Your feet, on the 96th anniversary of Your apparition to the little shepherds, in this Cova da Iria, to fulfill the clearly expressed wish of Pope Francis to consecrate to You, Virgin of Fatima, his ministry of Bishop of Rome and Universal Shepherd.”
The Cardinal went on in this prayer of consecration (lasting about six minutes) to ask Our Lady of Fatima for all the graces of discernment and courage that the Holy Father will need to “overcome, in charity, the trials that the renovation of the Church will bring him.”
The local ordinary of Leiria-Fatima, Bishop Antonio Marto, commented on the significance of this consecration. At a May 12th press conference, he noted: “To consecrate the Ministry of the Pope to Our Lady of Fatima ... means ... to entrust to Mary his person, his Ministry, and his intentions for the spiritual reform of the Church....”
Bishop Marto also addressed the pilgrims on May 13th after the act of consecration, reading a message of thanks communicated to Cardinal Policarpo from Pope Francis through the Apostolic Nunciature in Portugal. “The Holy Father expressed his pleasure over the initiative and his profound gratitude for the realization of his wish, in union of prayer with all the pilgrims of Fatima, to whom he grants his heartfelt Apostolic Blessing,” said Bishop Marto.
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