Nation and World News

After Easter, Chileans on horseback bring Communion to homebound

Volunteers dressed in traditional cowboy clothing carried a banner and Chilean flags at the Quasimodo Festival April 23 in Colina, Chile. The festival dates to colonial times, when cowboys would protect from bandits the priests administering the sacraments.

COLINA, Chile — The priests and helpers came on horses and bicycles carrying red, white and blue Chilean flags and metal crosses. Their mission: to pray and give Communion to the old and infirm, parishioners who couldn't get to church on Easter Sunday.

In Chile, it's called "La Fiesta de Cuasimodo" (Quasimodo's Festival), and it takes place every year on the Sunday after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday.

Fatima at 100: Story of apparitions continues to attract attention

Jacinta and Francisco Marto are pictured with their cousin Lucia dos Santos (right) in a file photo taken around the time of the 1917 apparitions of Mary at Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis has approved the recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of two of the shepherd children, thus paving the way for their canonization.

VATICAN CITY — While conversion and prayer are at the heart of Mary's messages at Fatima, Portugal, the miracles and unexplained phenomenon that accompanied the events 100 years ago still intrigue believers and nonbelievers alike.

The apparitions of Mary at Fatima in 1917 weren't the first supernatural events reported there.

Two years before Mary appeared to three shepherd children — Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto — they saw a strange sight while praying the Rosary in the field, according to the memoirs of Sister Lucia, who had become a Carmelite nun.

Fatima visionaries will be canonized May 13 in Portugal

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will declare the sainthood of Blessed Jacinta Marto and Blessed Francisco Marto, two of the three shepherd children who saw Mary in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.

The date was announced April 20 in an "ordinary public consistory," a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

Addressing the assembly, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, noted that of the future saints considered at the consistory, five were children or young teenagers.

The Message of Fatima

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Mary Sturm has long appreciated the Rosary, but it wasn't until she witnessed the dedication of a group of people praying it after daily Mass at her parish, Holy Infant in Ballwin, that her love grew deeper.

Through this prayer, Sturm finds guidance from the Blessed Mother to stay connected to Jesus. The Rosary also was a great consolation to her when her husband of 43 years, Jim, passed away last summer.

"She helps me participate fully at Mass and help others," Sturm said of the Blessed Mother. "She gives me company, protection and reassurance."

Project successful in funding clean-water wells in Africa

The first well completed in a Franciscan Charities effort to provide fresh water for people in Africa is in the village of Mulenga in the Dominican Republic of Congo.

Franciscan Father Jean-Marie Mufeji's parish of 25 villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo covers about 1,930 square miles. Many of those villages do not have ready access to safe drinking water.

Previously, the women and girls from the village of Mulenga, had to walk 3.7 miles to find water. But thanks to donors to Franciscan Charities, including readers of the St. Louis Review, safe drinking water now is available from a well constructed in February.

Cathedral Basilica lands performance by 'Voice from Assisi' Friar Alessandro

Friar Alessandro Brustenghi

As Scott Kennebeck says, "Sometimes, the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways."

How else does one explain the upcoming performance by a world-renowned tenor falling into his lap?

"I just got a call out of the blue," said Kennebeck, the executive director of the Cathedral Concerts series, which extended its 24th season by three weeks to accommodate the performance by Friar Alessandro Brustenghi.

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