Friday, June 15, 2012

International Pilgrimage Statue of Our Lady of Fatima

The International Pilgrimage Statue of Our Lady of Fatima is at St. Bridget Church on Montgomery through Friday afternoon. The statue is making her New Jersey tour this month, stopping for 24 hours at various churches throughout the area.

In 1917, an apparition of the Blessed Mother appeared to three children at Fatima, Portugal on May 13th and then on the 13th of every month until October 13th and on the final day, where 30,000 - 100,000 (estimates are dependent on the account) people are reported to have seen the miracle of the sun.  You can do your own googling to find out everything about this incident. This wiki page is pretty good.

The statue is made of solid Mahogany. The statue – a “visualization of our catechism” – was carved in 1947 by Jose Thedim. The sculpture was based on an image of the Virgin Mary as described by LĂșcia de Jesus dos Santos, one of the children who experienced the apparition. She is known as Sister Lucia of Fatima; she joined the Carmelite order and died in 2005 at the age of 98. There are many statues of Our Lady of Fatima, but this one was made for the specific purpose of traveling the world in a reverse pilgrimage. She brings Fatima to individual parishes, in a never ending world tour, resting in Catholic Churches for 24 hours at a time. About 300 stops per year are made, according to the website. Even though the image is familiar, this statue is an original, one of a kind likeness.

On the side of the altar at St. Bridget – itself recently restored and a stunningly beautiful, old, Catholic Church – the statue had a spectre-like, glowing countenance. Her oval shaped face is smooth face warm, inviting, serene, the lighting, mainly min-spotlights aimed at her face, did indeed enhance the spiritual aspect of the status. It was also kind of eerie. She seemed surrounded by the preternatural hush of oblation.

Parishioners knelt and prayed in front of the statue yesterday afternoon – other services were held in the evening. The rosary was said in unison, some recited the English, others the Spanish. In the evening a group of Vietnamese “chanted” the rosary in their native language. Among “the secrets” told by the Virgin to the three children, was that prayer will lead to peace. At the time of the appearance, WWI raged throughout Europe and the Communists had won the Russian Revolution. One of the reasons the statue continues to travel is to encourage prayers for peace.

Since 1917 of course, believers have made pilgrimages to Fatima. Two years after World War II –an event “Our Lady of Fatima” was said to have prophesied – and on the 30thanniversary of the apparition’s last appearanc “…in the presence of some 150,000 pilgrims, the statue was blessed by the Bishop of Leiria at Fatima, Portugal to be the pilgrim, the traveler.”

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