27 november, 2019
Pilgrims invited to live holiness from Fatima
The examples of Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto will accompany the life in the Shrine over the course of this year, during which we are especially challenged to “Give Thanks for living with God”.
“Time of Grace and Mercy: to give thanks for living in God” is the theme of the new pastoral year in Fatima, the last one of the first cycle after the centenary of the Apparitions. Inspired in The First Epistle of Peter - «Be holy» (1 Peter 1:15) – and taking into account the excerpt from Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words – «[Our Lady communicated to us] a light so intense, […] making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light […]» (Fourth Memoir, on the May 13 Apparition) – the Shrine has prepared this pastoral year centred in that universal call to holiness stated in the documents of the Magisterium and that, in Cova da Iria, materializes in a call to life in God, according to the example of the seers of Fatima, especially Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
Over the course of this year, several thematic contents will be developed, such as: baptismal vocation to holiness, Christian life as life in God, conversion as recentering life in God, holiness nowadays, dimensions of a Christian spirituality in the light of the message of Fatima, the experience of grace as experience of God’s holiness, the Shrine as place of encounter with the Holy God, the experience of God’s mercy as an invitation to live with Him, Fatima as school of holiness, Francisco as model of holiness, Jacinta as model of holiness and Lúcia as model of a Christian life.
Holiness “is not a privilege reserved for a few chosen ones, it is the vocation of all of us Christians”, as Pope Francis reminds us in the Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness, “Rejoice and be glad”, and the Rector of the Shrine of Fatima, Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas, reminded it last November 1, when he enhanced that being a saint is “not to be resigned to a mediocre, superficial and hesitating life, without horizon nor demandingness”.
“Being a saint is getting close to and imitating Jesus, because saints are those that knew how to trust their life to God; and Our Lady’s question to the Little Shepherds here in Fatima comes to our mind: «Are you willing to offer yourselves to God?»”, the Rector considered. He also stated that this act of accepting to trust our life in the hands of God is “a sign of holiness”.
In the message of Fatima there is a horizon that leads each one to God and “to a life of communion with Him, that is, to a holy life, and this is Fatima: the call to a holly life”.
But the holiness in Fatima is also visible in the protagonists, the Little Shepherds, and “in them we find not only the huge desire to be saints – and we lack this desire so many times – but also the daily effort to be humble, fair, merciful, peaceful, pure of heart like Jesus Christ, because in them we discover this effort of living according to the Beatitudes”, he still added, reminding that calling, commitment and vocation are the most significant words in the message and also in this permanent invitation to live in God.
Over this pastoral year there will be several moments in which this call to a life commitment, conformed to the word of God, will be a constant, namely in the celebrations of the centenaries that will take place during this pastoral year of 2019/2020.
Jacinta died one hundred years ago
Jacinta, the younger sister of Saint Francisco Marto, also canonised on May 13 2017, died on February 20 1920. Impressed by the suffering of the sinners, she prays and sacrifices herself for their conversion, for World peace and for the Holy Father: “I am suffering a lot, but I offer everything for the conversion of sinners and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and also for the Holy Father”, she entrusted Lúcia, during her illness. And shortly before she died, she said: “In Heaven I’m going to love Jesus very much, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary too”.
The attitude of compassion is the distinctive sign of Jacinta, who dedicates her whole existence to the mission that the Lady from Heaven entrusts her: “If I could only put into the hearts of all the fire that is burning within my own heart, and that makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so very much!”
The love for Our Lady and this conforming desire for her existence with the Heart of Jesus made Jacinta wish to follow Him, walking the same pathway as the Master. And not even in the solitude of the disease, when she was denied the possibility of the communion or when the wound penetrating her chest made her suffer, did she lose the serenity characteristic of those who trust and love, in Mary’s way, her teacher in the School of Holiness, as Pope Saint John Paul II declared. During her imprisonment at Ourém, when Lúcia asks her to choose an intention for which to offer her sacrifices – the poor sinners, the Holy Father or in reparation for the Immaculate Heart of Mary –, Jacinta does not hesitate to answer: “I’m making the offering for all the intentions, because I love them all”. (Text written from Spirituality of Jacinta, Fundação Francisco e Jacinta Marto.)
The most universal sculpture of Portuguese Catholicism
The sculpture of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, venerated at the Little Chapel of the Apparitions, was offered in 1920 by Gilberto Fernandes dos Santos, from Torres Novas, consecrated on May 13 that same year, at the Parish Church of Fatima, and brought to the Little Chapel one month later. It was solemnly crowned on May 13 1946 by Cardinal Aloisi Masella, the Pontifical Legate.
The sculpture is made of wooden blocks of Brazilian cedar (Cedrela odorata L.). It has several chromatic layers and the gilding is made of gold leaf of 22 and 23,5 carats. The eyes are made of glass and the clothes and mantel are incrusted with rock crystal gemstones, glass beads and diamonds. Sculpted by José Ferreira Thedim, the wooden sculpture (Brazilian cedar) is 1,04 meters high. It was restored by its author in 1951, and since then it has been retouched several times.
The sculpture made 12 voyages with cult significance, three of them to the Vatican at the Popes’ request.
In the early days, Maria Carreira, the Little Chapel of the Apparitions’ keeper, used to take the Statue home every night. For this reason the bomb attack of 1922 didn’t damage the sculpture.
The most universal sculpture of contemporary Catholicism will be present at the temporary exhibition “Dressed in White”, at St. Augustine Social Hall, at the lower floor of the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, on July 13, after the celebrations of the International Anniversary Pilgrimage, marking the second apparition of the Virgin to the Little Shepherds of Fatima.
José Alves Correia da Silva, the Bishop of Fatima
Ordained Bishop of the restored Diocese of Leiria, in July 1920, José Alves Correia was the prelate who sealed the event of Fatima stating in a pastoral letter on October 13 1930 “as trustworthy the visions of the children at Cova da Iria” and officially allowing the cult of Our Lady of Fatima, which gave extraordinary momentum to the Shrine that would later arise. We also owe him some of the earlier strategical options, even before this pastoral letter, some of a canonical nature, others more pragmatic, concerning the edification of infrastructures that allowed the projection of the present Shrine. It is also thanks to him that the message of Fatima will begin to spread throughout the world, for it was Bishop José Alves Correia da Silva who authorised the Statue to leave the Little Chapel of the Apparitions for the first time. It is important to mention several events which occur during his episcopate: the first national pilgrimage to Fatima, in May 1931; the World and Russia’s consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, by Pius XII; the crowning of the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima in 1946 and the beginning of the beatification process of the Little Shepherds Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
Bishop José Alves Correia da Silva passed away in 1957 and his remains are buried in the Chancel of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. One year before he passed away, Pope Pius XII nominated him assistant at the pontifical throne, an honourable distinction that Popes conferred then to some prelates as a sign of recognition for the services rendered to the Church.
A diversified offer
During this pastoral year there will be several moments in which this call to a life commitment will be expressed through diversified languages, from Sunday Schools, music, conferences and moments of greater spirituality such as retreats and pastoral workshops, developed within the scope of the School of the Shrine. Among these events we highlight the Light Retreats, which start in December (6 to 8) with the “Joy of Light”, during the time of the Advent, followed by three more editions in the Lent, the Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum. We also highlight the Children, Death and Mourning Days, in May, and the thematic tours to the temporary exhibition “Dressed in White – exhibition celebrating the centenary of the first sculpture of Our Lady of Fatima”. In June there will be a Theological-Pastoral Symposium and in July the Fifth edition of the Summer Course. Project SETE – Immersion of young volunteers in the Shrine of Fatima is also back, as well as the program Vem para o Meio, aimed at providing holidays for parents of people with disabilities.