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Pope Reflects on Fatima Visit

Pilgrim virginCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Just after returning from his brief pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal, Pope Francis reflected on the experience, saying that while visiting the site of the apparitions, he felt immersed in the prayer of the faithful “that for one hundred years has flowed there like a river.”

Vatican Radio is reporting on the comments the Holy Father made after reciting the Regina Coeli on Sunday.

“At Fatima I was immersed in the prayer of the faithful holy people, prayer that for one hundred years has flowed there like a river, for the maternal protection of Mary for the whole world,” he said.

“And at the center of everything was and is the Risen Lord, present in the midst of His People in the Word and in the Eucharist; present in the midst of the many sick people, who are the protagonists of the liturgical and pastoral life of Fatima, as of every Marian sanctuary.”

For Francis, one of the highlights of the trip was the Solemn Mass on Saturday when he canonized Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the three Fatima seers.

“I wanted to propose to the whole Church their example of adhesion to Christ and to evangelical witness… And I also want to propose to the whole Church to have the heart of children," he said.

Their sanctity is not “a consequence of the apparitions, but of the fidelity and ardor with which they corresponded to the privilege they had received of being able to see the Virgin Mary.”

The children, after seeing Mary, frequently prayed the Rosary, did penance, and offered sacrifices for an end to World War I which was raging at the time, and for souls who were most in need of divine mercy.

“In our day, too, there is great need of prayer and of penance to implore the grace of conversion,” and an end to the wars and conflicts, “which disfigure the face of humanity.”

“Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the light that comes from Fatima,” Pope Francis said, before concluding his reflection with a prayer: “May the Immaculate Heart of Mary always be our refuge, our consolation, and the way that leads to Christ.”

Speaking at the United Nations on the eve of the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions, Women of Grace® founder and president Johnnette Benkovic expressed the same hopes that the world will heed the Virgin’s plea for prayer and penance so that peace may finally be known.

“I hope that our coming together today, in this historic place, to commemorate this anniversary, heralds a new moment, a moment in which God’s plan and man’s hope meet, conceiving, and giving birth to a new action for peace, that not only holds out the promise for it, but has the power to effect it. A plan that puts woman at the center of it, the one to whom the birthing of persons, and peace efforts, has been entrusted.”

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