Pilgrims experience Fatima during 100-year anniversary of Marian apparitions

by Father Andrew Jasinski

Fatima

The Diocese of Fargo pilgrims at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal, for the 100-year anniversary. (submitted photo)

The Diocese of Fargo organized a pilgrimage to mark the conclusion of the “Year of Grace” in Fatima, Portugal, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children, and the “Miracle of the Sun” on Oct. 13, 1917. From Oct. 2-14, Father Peter Anderl, pastor of St. Anthony’s, Mooreton, and Sts. Peter and Paul, Mantador, as well as the Spiritual Director for the World Apostolate of Fatima, and Father Andrew Jasinski, Chancellor of the Diocese of Fargo, led 40 pilgrims to Rome, Assisi and Fatima, on an incredible experience of grace.

The first five days were a whirlwind tour of Rome. The pilgrims visited the four Major Basilicas, and other historical churches and sites, including the Coliseum, the Catacombs of St. Callistus and San Clemente Basilica. They participated in a General Audience with Pope Francis and celebrated Mass in St. Sebastian’s chapel of St. Peter’s Basilica, where Pope St. John Paul II is buried.

To unwind from the hectic pace of Rome and prepare for the celebrations in Fatima, they traveled to Assisi, where they spent three days visiting churches and places significant to St. Francis and the Franciscan Order. They visited the Basilica of St. Clare, in which hangs the San Damiano Cross—the cross from which Jesus said to Francis, “rebuild my church, which you see is in ruins”—and where St. Clare and St. Agnes, her sister, are buried.

The final days of the pilgrimage were in Fatima, where the pilgrims visited the homes of Lucia dos Santos, Jacinta, and Francisco Marto and the apparition sites where an angel and the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the three shepherd children. While visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, the pilgrims prayed at the tombs of St. Jacinta and St. Francisco—canonized by Pope Francis during his visit to Fatima in May—and Sister Lucia. They also had time to pray at the Chapel of the Apparition, where Mary appeared in 1917. Some of the pilgrims also had the privilege of visiting the Carmel in Coimbra, Portugal, where Sister Lucia spent over 55 years as a cloistered nun.

The pilgrimage culminated in two major celebrations at the Shrine. The first was in the evening of Oct. 12, which marked the beginning of the centenary celebration. The recitation of the rosary and a candlelight procession were followed by the celebration of Holy Mass. Bishop António dos Santos Marto, Bishop of Fatima, presided at the ceremony and at the centennial celebration the next day. On Oct. 13, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was taken in procession from the Chapel of the Apparition to the site of the outdoor Mass, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered. After Mass, a period of Eucharistic Adoration was held, during which the sick and infirmed were blessed by the Blessed Sacrament. After this, a video message by Pope Francis was shown, during which he pulled a rosary from his pocket and said, “Never leave your rosary aside.” The celebration concluded with a procession at the statue of Our Lady back to the Chapel of the Apparition.

Throughout the celebrations, the deep devotion of the people to Our Lady of Fatima and her motherly protection was clearly manifest. The beautiful songs and spirit-filled prayer truly made it a time of grace.