On 13 May, faithful throughout the world celebrated the Holiday of Our Lady of Fatima.
This year, however, it was a very special celebration: it was the centenary of Mary’s first appearance to the three shepherds Francesco, Jacinta and Lucia. On May 13th, 1917, the three children, while aiming to graze the herd at Cova da Iria (Conca di Iria), in the surroundings of Fátima, a small town in Portugal, saw a cloud descending over them, and from that cloud emerged a woman dressed in white and carrying a Rosary in her hands.
That was only Her first apparition, as the beautiful lady asked the children to return to that place on the 13th of each month, for the next five months. During these meetings, she revealed to the children and to the other witnesses great wonders and secrets about the destiny of all humanity.
Fatima’s apparitions have been recognized by the Catholic Church since 1930: the Portuguese town became the center of a cult that still attracts thousands of pilgrims every year.
On May 12th and 13th, Pope Francis went to the Sanctuary of Fatima and was welcomed by thousands of believers in prayer, to celebrate the centenary. During the celebration, he canonized the two shepherds, Francesco and Jacinta, who died very young. The Pontiff recalled the importance of the figure of Mary for Christians all over the world: the way she, with her humility, mercy and devotion, becomes vehicle between God and men, as a lovely and immensely good mother.
“If we want to be Christians, we must be Marians: we must therefore recognize the fundamental, vital and providential relationship that unites our Lady with Jesus, and opens the way that leads us to Him”, said the Pope during the candle blessing in the Cappellina of Apparitions.
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima, in the sanctuary erected where the Virgin appeared to the three shepherds, is worshiped by faithful from all over the world.