VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Thousands of members of Marian movements and associations in Italy will join together to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The World Apostolate of Fatima celebrates the feast every year in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. “But this year it has a particular solemnity” due to the involvement of more Marian associations, said Bishop Diego Bona, president of the World Apostolate of Fatima in Italy.
The celebration on Saturday will begin with the arrival of the “the venerated image of the pilgrim Virgin of the Fatima shrine,” the bishop told ZENIT. The image will be “received by faithful from many parts of Italy,” and “in fervent communion of prayer and sincere, profound and filial devotion.”
Archbishop Angelo Comastri will lead a meditated rosary, followed by Mass presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. After Mass the faithful will recite the prayer to Mary, mother of the living, which concludes John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae.”
Heart of the feast
The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary comes a day after the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and is “a widespread and cherished devotion of the Christian people,” said Bishop Bona.
The faithful, he said, “see in the Virgin Mary’s ‘heart’ — the heart is considered the center and source of the interior life, the will and affectivity — the highest model of docility and obedience to the will of God, and maternal concern for men who were entrusted to her by the Savior dying on the cross.”
It is a feast with a long tradition which “was given strong impulse with the events of Fatima (1917), when during the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin the three little shepherds heard words that later went all over the world: “Jesus desires to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart” (June 13); “I shall come to ask for consecration to my Immaculate Heart,” “At last my Immaculate Heart will triumph” (July 13),” he said.
A simple message
Bishop Bona emphasized the importance of the Fatima message: The Blessed Virgin, “who introduced herself as the Virgin of the Rosary, wished to communicate with the world, with believers and nonbelievers, to call them back to the path of goodness and free them from the ruins of this time and the dangers of always.
“She did so with simple words, addressed to three children who had not gone to school yet; but it is a message that has gone around the world and of which John Paul II said: ‘If the Church received the message of Fatima it is because it contains a truth and a call that are at the very heart of the Gospel.'”
The bishop summarized the message of Fatima in three essential topics: “the necessity and importance of insistent and constant prayer; the call to conversion and the urgent appeal to be committed to prayer and to offer one’s life with the sacrifices it entails for the conversion of sinners; trust, dedication and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the preferential path, possible path of Christian life.”