blessed mother

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."

Our Mother of Perpetual Help is a guide to Jesus through Mary

Priscilla Martin joined others June 14 for the weekly Mother of Perpetual Help Devotion at St. Alphonsus Liguori (Rock) Church. Martin has participated in the devotion for 61 years. At right is Esther Darris.

Esther Darris considers 2009 as the year from hell.

She was dealing with cancer. Her son was killed in a carjacking and she lost another son to diabetes. In her sorrow, she turned to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

"I just felt like I was at the end of my rope," said the St. Alphonsus Liguori "Rock" parishioner, who has been cancer-free for seven years. "She directed my path. It's still hard to talk about, but I want to give her the recognition. Praying to Mary has really helped me and my family."

80-year-old volunteer says the Blessed Mother has 'never let me down'

Leonard Kinealy, 80, arranged the items in the front window of Twice Blessed Resale Shop on Meramec Street near St. Anthony of Padua Church. Kinealy volunteers every day at the resale shop operated by Our Lady’s Inn and said he loves being at the store and talking to customers. Many neighborhood folks wander into the store not to shop but just to sit and talk with him.

The Twice Blessed Resale Shop off of Meramec Street has more than doubled its revenue the past few years.

Store manager Lucy Hannegan doesn't credit a new marketing strategy or an improvement in the quality of merchandise coming into the thrift store -- she credits 80-year-old volunteer Leonard Kinealy.

"He's our hero. He's here virtually every single day we're open. He's a great face in the neighborhood," she said. "He doesn't just sit and read the paper. He's always moving things around and cleaning. He's very proactive."

"I can't stand sitting around," said Kinealy.

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