On Sunday before 100,000 pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis marked the Marian Event of the Year of Faith by consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the presence of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought especially from Portugal for the occasion.
[Vatican Radio has an article/interview about Fatima and the statue HERE]
On the Saturday, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima from the Portuguese shrine was flown to Rome for the event. On arrival in Rome, the statue was carried to Benedict XVI's residence, the former Mater Ecclesiae monastery. Benedict XVI welcomed the statue himself and walked along with it as it was taken to his nearby chapel. He prayed before Our Lady along with Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who serves as the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. The statue was then taken to the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta where Pope Francis lives. From there, the statue was taken to St. Peter's Square where thousands were already waiting.
The pilgrims welcomed Our Lady with white handkerchiefs as she made her way through St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis first greeted her by kissing her feet.
During his catechises he reflected on the power of Mary's faith by asking Christians a very direct question. “What is our faith like? Like Mary, do we keep it burning even at times of difficulty and darkness? Do I have the joy of faith?”
You can read the full text of Pope Francis catechises HERE.
Rocco's account of the vigil over at Whispers in the Loggia is HERE.
Then on Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated mass in St Peter’s square in honour of the Marian Day, an event organised as part of the Year of Faith on the anniversary of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima (13th of October 1917). He also consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Reflecting on the faith of Our Lady, the Pope urged Christians to reject the short-term culture that has taken over marriage and faith. “Am I a part-time Christian or am I a Christian full-time? The culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also affects the way we live our faith. Think of all the times when we were excited about something, a project or task, but afterward, at the first sign of difficulty, we throw in the towel."
Vatican Radio has a report on the Pope's homily HERE.
Pope Francis who is well known for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin said that it was a day to consider one of the marvelous things Mary had done, that was “to be chosen to be the Mother of God”.Taking Sunday’s liturgy as his inspiration, Pope Francis reflected on three things. They were that God surprises us, God asks us to be faithful and God is our strength.
Referring to Mary the Holy Father said God surprised Mary, but despite this she was able to say, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord, be it done onto me according to your word.” The Pope went on to say that God does surprise us, he wreaks havoc with our plans, but he also says “trust me, do not be afraid”.In his second reflection “God asks us to be faithful” Pope Francis explained that God is loving, but he also “demands that we be faithful in following him”. Mary was that faithful follower, he continued, she said her “yes” to God both in moments of joy and sorrow.” The Holy Father then said, our duty is to “walk with God always, even in moments of weakness, even in our sins. That, he added, is what is means to be “a full-time Christian.”
In his third point, “God is our Strength”, Pope Francis said that Mary gave praise and thanks to God . She did this, the Pope stressed because, “Everything is his gift. He is our strength!” He also underlined the importance of not taking things for granted and asked people to remember, three key words, sorry, excuse me and thank you.Full text of the Pope's homily is available HERE.
At the end of Sunday's Mass, Pope Francis entrusted the world to Our Lady of Fatima with a special prayer in front of thousands of pilgrims at St. Peter's Square. At her feet, Pope Francis prayed for Our Lady's protection to the world and for the reinforcement of people's goodwill. Also, he asked her to revive the faith and charity in people so that they look after those who suffer and those excluded from society.
Blessed Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, with renewed gratitude by your motherly presence we unite our voice to that of all generations that call you blessed.
We celebrate with you the mighty works of God, who never gets tired of bending over mankind, beset by evil and wounded by sin, with mercy to heal and to save it.
Mother embrace with benevolence this act of entrustment that we make today with confidence, before this your image which is so dear to us.
We are confident that each of us is precious in your sight and that nothing is alien to you of all that dwells in our hearts. We are touched by the gaze of your sweet eyes and welcome the comforting caress of your smile.
Safeguard our lives in your arms: bless and strengthen every desire for goodness, revitalize and nourish our faith, sustain and brighten the hope that stirs the soul and charity ; guide all of us on the path of holiness.
Teach us your same love and preference for the young and the poor, the marginalized and the suffering, for sinners and those whose hearts are lost: gather all under your protection and deliver us all to your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus. Amen.