In honour of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to the shepherd children of Fatima in 1917, forty pilgrims travelled from the parishes of Killucan and Longwood from 20th-24th March with Marian Pilgrimages to participate in the Centennial Jubilee Celebrations at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. While there our group had the privilege to lead the English Mass on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Chapel of the Apparitions.

Usually at this time of the year there are no evening processions but on Tuesday evening to commemorate the Vision of the Angel to the children, a Candle Light procession took place at 9:30pm from the Cova da Iria, along the streets of Fatima and out via the Way of The Cross to the village where Sr. Lucia and her cousins Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco grew up. It was a late night but worth it for the beautiful experience despite the cold.

Earlier on the Tuesday we met with Sr. Lucia’s now elderly niece, which again was a special encounter as we traced the life and times of the young seers of Fatima. We had opportunities to spend time at the tombs of the children, leave our petitions, visit the Museum (including the Irish Monstrance and the Crown for Our Lady’s Statue containing the bullet that struck St. Pope John Paul II on 13th May 1981), marvel at the new Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity and undertake the Itinerary for the Jubilee Indulgence. There was plenty of time too to sample the famed custard cakes and much needed tea or coffee to warm up the pilgrims.

On Thursday morning we travelled to Santarem to celebrate Mass at the shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle before returning for lunch and a last visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary before departing Fatima for Lisbon. On the national news that evening we heard the great joy for Portugal with the announcement that Pope Francis had officially recognised the second miracle attributed to Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco. Their canonisations will take place on 13th May when the Holy Father will be on pilgrimage to the Cova da Iria. This news added a special significance to our pilgrimage for which we were most grateful to God and Our Lady of Fatima.

While in Lisbon we visited the amazing Jerónimos Monastery and the monument of the discoveries and concluded our pilgrimage with Mass at the Shrine of St. Anthony, the Franciscan saint more associated with Padua but born in Lisbon. A few euro were left in thanksgiving for favours answered or found!

As ever with pilgrimages we returned tired from all the praying and travelling. It was a great time shared together. Many thanks to Marian Pilgrimages for their excellent guidance and support. We thank God for blessing us with good health and safe passage. To Our Lady of Fatima we give honour and thanks and entrust our parish communities and diocese to her Immaculate Heart.

Jubilee Prayer of Consecration

Hail, Mother of the Lord,
Virgin Mary, Queen of the Rosary of Fatima!
Blessed among all women,
you are the image of the Church dressed in the Paschal light,
you are the honour of our people,
you are the triumph over the mark of evil.

Prophecy of the merciful Love of the Father,
Teacher of the Annunciation of the Good News of the Son,
Sign of the burning Fire of the Holy Spirit,
teach us, in this valley of joys and sorrows,
the eternal truths that the Father reveals to the little ones.

Show us the strength of your mantle of protection.
In your Immaculate Heart,
be the refuge of sinners
and the way that leads to God.

In unity with my brethren,
In Faith, Hope and Love,
I surrender myself to you.
In unity with my brethren, through you, I consecrate myself to God,
O Virgin of the Rosary of Fatima.

And thus surrounded by the Light that comes from your hands,
I will give Glory to the Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

See the official website for The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima

(Fr Mark English PP)