Historic Fatima statue becomes centerpiece of pilgrimage site for centenary celebration

Kathryn Ziesig | kathrynziesig@archstl.org
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In May 1970, Cardinal John J. Carberry led a delegation of 88 people from St. Louis on a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal. It was the first time an English-speaking prelate had been invited to celebrate Mass at the Fatima shrine; he did so before an estimated 500,000 pilgrims from around the world on May 13 — the 53rd anniversary of the Blessed Mother's first apparition to three Portuguese children.

Upon his return to St. Louis, Cardinal Carberry directed that a replica of the Fatima statue be placed in the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral). The three-foot statue, which he received from then-Bishop John Venancio of Leiria, Portugal, was part of his pledge to continue a devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, and her message of peace, in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Forty-seven years later, the statue has become the centerpiece of a pilgrimage site recently designated at the Old Cathedral to mark the centenary celebration of the Fatima apparitions. Pope Francis has granted the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence in the 100th anniversary celebration of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, which runs through Nov. 26.

To receive the plenary indulgence, pilgrims need to venerate the statue, in the back of the Old Cathedral, and meet the other regular conditions (see related). The St. Louis division of the World Apostolate of Fatima will have at the site copies of a brochure on the apostolate and prayer to Our Lady.

In her apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, the Blessed Mother called on three children — Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto — to pray the Rosary daily for an end to the Great War — World War I. Our Lady of Fatima's messages of conversion and prayer (especially for peace), reparation and penance and devotion to her Immaculate Heart — all in the name of drawing us closer to her Son — serve as timeless messages a century later.

At the Mass at the Fatima shrine in 1970, Cardinal Carberry appealed for all to pray for peace in their own hearts, in their different countries and in the entire world. There was a heavy downpour of rain during the Mass, according to a 1970 story from the St. Louis Review archives. Pilgrims huddled under umbrellas and camped at the site in small tents and plastic shelters. As he celebrated Mass, Cardinal Carberry was surrounded by people who were sick and disabled.

"If there is one great cry that arises from a restless and tormented world today, it is the cry of peace," Cardinal Carberry said in his preaching. "Good and sincere men speak of peace and struggle for peace, but there is also selfishness in our human nature which resists the sacrifice of pride that peace would require. ... If there is to be peace in the world, peace must find its way into a sufficient number of individual hearts."

When he returned to St. Louis, Cardinal Carberry noted the importance of placing the Fatima statue at the Old Cathedral: "Our Lady will stand in the church beneath the great Arch, Gateway to the West, and, please God, she will stand as a reminder to all of us in St. Louis to rededicate our efforts to the cause of peace." 

>> How to receive a plenary indulgence

Pope Francis has granted an opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence in the 100th anniversary celebration of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, which runs through Nov. 26.

"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1471-79).

To obtain a plenary indulgence, the usual conditions must be met: go to confession and Communion, be detached from sin (state of grace), and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

In addition, the faithful must do at least one of the following: make a pilgrimage to the Fatima shrine in Portugal; pray before a venerated statue of Our Lady of Fatima in a church, oratory or other proper place during the months of the anniversary of the apparitions (the 13th of the month, from May-October, 2017); or for those who are elderly or infirm, pray in front of a statue of Fatima and unite themselves to the jubilee celebrations on the anniversary dates of the apparitions. They also must "offer to our merciful God with
confidence, through Mary, their prayers and sufferings or the sacrifices they make in their own lives."

To learn more about the St. Louis division of the World Apostolate of Fatima, visit www.fatimastlouis.com. 

• Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral) At the corner of Memorial Drive and Walnut Street, the Old Cathedral (officially, the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France) is open daily — Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. — with a full slate of Masses and confessions.

• Mass schedule

Monday-Friday, 7 a.m., 12:10 p.m.

Saturday, 7 a.m., 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 5 p.m.

• Confession schedule

Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. 

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