Pope Francis’ pontificate was consecrated Monday to the protection of the Virgin Mary, during a Mass held at the Shrine of Fatima.
The Mass was celebrated at the shrine by the cardinal patriarch of Lisbon, José da Cruz Policarpo, together with 37 bishops and 290 priests, and attended by some 300,000 people.
An international pilgrimage took place on Sunday, May 12 and Monday, May 13, on the occasion of the 96th anniversary of the first Marian apparition to the visionaries, the little shepherds Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.
At the end of the Mass, and after the consecration of the pontificate, the bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Antonio Marto, read a message that Pope Francis sent to bless the thousands of pilgrims crowded in the esplanade, reported the newspaper Jornal de Noticias.
“The Holy Father expressed his pleasure over the initiative and his profound gratitude for the realization of his wish, in union of prayer with all the pilgrims of Fatima, to whom he grants his heartfelt Apostolic Blessing,” said the cardinal.
The message was sent by the Apostolic Nunciature in Portugal, to Cardinal Policarpo, indicated the Portuguese newspaper, adding that “the cardinal patriarch of Lisbon asked Our Lady of Fatima during the consecration of the pontificate, to help Francis renew the Catholic Church.”
Close to 570,000 people went to the Fatima Shrine for the feast day celebrations – 300,000 on Sunday and 270,000 on Monday. Among the pilgrims attending the event, more than 37,000 walked from different points of the country. Over the two days, more than 26 tons of candles melted in the candleholders of the shrine, reported Lusitania agency.
World Youth Day too
The Shrine’s press office told ZENIT that Archbishop Orani João Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro indicated that: “As we all know, the consecration carried out here in Cova de Iria is an act of extreme importance for the Holy Church. His Holiness Pope Francis asked the Lord Cardinal patriarch of Lisbon, José Policarpo, to consecrate to Our Lady of Fatima his pontificate, which began two months ago.”
The archbishop added that the act reveals “the Pope’s special affection for Fatima” and is of very great importance for those of us present “as we feel included in this consecration.”
We are happy and comforted, added the cardinal, by “the special attention and solicitude that the popes of the last 50 years have shown for this blessed land, becoming pilgrims to Cova de Iria to come here to ask Our Lady of the Rosary for protection for the Church and peace for the world.”
“Now Pope Francis, in continuity with his predecessors, consecrates the Petrine ministry to the Lady of the Rosary of Fatima,” concluded the cardinal.
On Sunday night, during the candle procession, Archbishop Tempesta consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima the World Youth Day, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro from July 23-28, and he reiterated the invitation “to young people of all ages” to take part in the meeting in Brazil.