Sunday, October 13, 2013


The big story this weekend at the Vatican and in Rome is the arrival of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal for a weekend dedicated to Mary in the framework of the Year of Faith. Very rarely in its almost one hundred-year history has the original statue ever left its shrine.
Almost immediately upon its arrival tomorrow morning at Fiumicino Airport, the statue will be brought to the Vatican by a helicopter of the Italian Air Force. It will then be accompanied by Vatican officials to the monastery where Benedict XVI lives so that he can pray before Our Lady.
At a press conference this morning to explain the Marian weekend, Archbishop Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization (which has been entrusted with the Year of Faith celebrations) said that at the beginning of the Year of Faith it was decided that it would be fundamental to retrace the history of our faith. For this reason, he said, Benedict XVI placed in the foreground the figure of Mary, who represents for believers the first response of complete and total faith, in which we fully abandon ourselves to God.
He highlighted the importance of the arrival of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, noting that “the statue never leaves the shrine, except in the case of entirely exceptional and extraordinary events. The last time was during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 when, on May 13, Blessed John Paul II carried out the act of consecration to the Virgin. … The date of October 13 was chosen as it recalls the final appearance of the Virgin to the three shepherd children in 1917.”
Here is the Marian weekend in a nutshell: Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, October 12 in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis will preside over a prayer on the occasion of the Marian Day that is part of the Year of Faith celebrations. He will do so in the presence of the original statute of Our Lady of Fatima that normally resides in the Portuguese shrine of the same name. The bullet that struck Blessed John Paul II in the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981, is set into the crown of the statue. The following day, Sunday, Francis will celebrate Mass in the square at 10:30 a.m. The statue will be flown back to Portugal that afternoon.
And here are the details:
Transportation of the statue of our Lady of Fatima has been entrusted to the Italian Air Force upon request of the Holy See. The AF will use an HH139A helicopter. It is the Air Force that transports the Pope on all his Italian trips and to and from Castelgandolfo. They will pick the statue up in the morning at Fiumicino and bring it to the Vatican, then later to Divine Mercy shrine, then back to the Vatican Sunday morning for the papal Mass. These planes have very advanced technology, night vision goggles, etc., and can operate in bad weather. They are used in Italy in search and rescue missions.
Saturday morning there will be a pilgrimage to the Tomb of Peter and in the afternoon, Pope Francis' catechesis. St. Peter's Square will open to pilgrims at 2.30 p.m. At 3 p.m. there will be a moment of reflection, and at 4 p.m. there will be a procession of the Virgin around the square, ending at the obelisk. In accordance with tradition, pilgrims are asked to wave with white handkerchiefs as the statue of the Virgin of Fatima passes.
At 5 p.m. the Holy Father will greet the statue of the Virgin in front of the Basilica. The Marian celebration then starts, with the prayer structure being that of the Seven Sorrowful Stations of Mary. This is followed by the Pope's catechesis, blessing and a final song.
The booklet for the papal celebrations is on the Vatican web site (and you can follow ON EWTN!):  
Evening events, including the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration will take place at the shrine of Divin Amore, Divine Love, just outside Rome. The diocese of Rome has organized the Divine Love events.
The statue of Our Lady arrives at 7 p.m. at the shrine by helicopter. A video message from Pope Francis will open the evening's program at about 7:15 and then, at 7:30, the Rosary is recited in a link with 10 shrines around the world: Nazareth - Lourdes - Czestochowa, Poland - Banneux, Belgium - Aparecida, Brazil - Akita, Japan - Nairobi, Kenya - Washington, USA - Vailankanny, India and Lujan, Argentina. Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini will lead the Rosary.
The evening prayer vigil starts at 10 p.m. and is entitled "With Mary, Throughout the Night." At 11:30 Eucharistic adoration starts with meditations from the lives of saints and with songs. Diverse ecclesial realities will take part. This will conclude at 5 a.m. with the celebration of Mass presided over by Auxiliary Bishop Lorenzo Leuzzi. At the end of Mass the statue will be flown back to the Vatican and St. Peter's Square.
Sunday, the program calls for the Rosary to be recited by the faithful in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m. Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will start at 10:30. At the end of Mass, the Pope will carry out the act of consecration to the Virgin and say a heretofore unpublished prayer (perhaps one he wrote?!). The Angelus will conclude the Marian celebrations.
It is expected that over 150,000 pilgrims from all over the world will participate, with international representations from 48 countries.

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