by CHRIS WATKINS
Exactly a century ago, the Blessed Virgin appeared at Fatima with prophecies and messages now more relevant than ever.
Fully approved by the Church and promoted by subsequent popes, Fatima’s authenticity was confirmed on October 13, 1917, by the greatest public miracle since biblical times, as pre-announced by Our Lady.
For 15 long minutes the sun “danced” across the sky with a spectacular array of colours and this was witnessed by 70,000 astonished onlookers.
During a papal address at the famous apparition site, on May 13, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI told a crowd of 500,000 pilgrims, “Whoever thinks the prophetic mission of Fatima is over, is deceived!”
The significance of the Fatima 100th anniversary has been highlighted by Pope Francis who has granted a plenary indulgence opportunity before the centennial ends on November 26, 2017.
One of the ways to gain this indulgence is “is for the faithful to visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory, or proper place during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions, the13th of each month from May to October”.
A programme of events is now being planned in the Christchurch diocese:
• Celebration of the First Apparition, Saturday, May 13, 9am-3pm, “A Day with Our Lady of Fatima” at the Pro-Cathedral.
• “Mary Fest” procession and devotions, Sunday, May 28, 2pm, at Our Lady
of Victories parish, Sockburn.
• Remembrance of the 2nd apparition, Tuesday, June 13, 7pm-10pm, an evening of reparation at St Francis of Assisi parish, Mairehau.
• Third apparition remembrance, Thursday, July 13, an evening of reparation, 7-10pm, hosted by the Most Holy Sons of the Redeemer at the Oratory, Rutland Street.
• Sunday evening, August 13, an evening of reparation at St Teresa’s parish, Riccarton, 7pm-10pm.
• Fourth apparition remembrance, Saturday, August 19, “A Day with Our Lady of Fatima” at the basilica in Timaru, 10am-3.15pm, with a 40-seater
bus provided for Christchurch attendants.
• Fifth apparition remembrance, Saturday, September 13, 7pm-10pm, an evening of reparation at Sacred Heart parish, Addington.
• On the one hundredth anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, Friday, October 13, an All-Night Vigil at St Francis of Assisi (originally Our Lady of Fatima parish).
With the exception of the “Mary Fest”, each of these events will involve Mass, adoration, Confession, and the holy rosary, and at each of the venues a statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be solemnly exposed in accord with the requirements for a plenary indulgence. All prayer groups from all parishes,
and also youth groups are encouraged to join in as many events as they are able to, bearing in mind the indulgences gained, as outlined by Pope Francis.
It is a unique and special opportunity to spread awareness of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima and her urgent messages to the world.