I recently was blessed with the presence of the Our Lady of Fatima statue in my home. With the growing number of unchurched Catholics in America, the America Needs Fatima campaign (ANF) seeks to bring Our Lady into as many homes as possible in order to spread her message of repentance, persistence of prayer, and hope in Jesus.
In 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to 3 children in Portugal during the war. If you don’t know the whole story, whether you’re Catholic, other Christian, or none of the above, I urge you to read this. Under the supervision of Lucy, the eldest child, a sculptor created a statue resembling her description of Our Lady. Replicas of this statue have been made and travel around sharing her message. Once during World War II, the statue in New Orleans was reported to cry real human tears. Around that time, Germany was invading Russia and many civilians were being killed. The miracle brought many to believe Our Lady’s message. To many today, however, it’s still just a distant story.
ANF offers visits to more than just Catholics. There are many non-Catholics, even non-Christians, who enjoy the education and the message from the visit. Some come to believe and convert as a result and some simply become more interested in the faith.
I received a call from the program on a Tuesday and it was scheduled for Saturday. Since the visit was scheduled a bit last minute, I didn’t have as many guests as I had hoped, but my parents, a fellow catechist, and my children attended. I know I also had the prayers of a few friends who wanted to come but couldn’t. In hindsight, I wish I had asked for their intentions so I could have added them into the box! Allow me to explain this beautiful time for those who might like to participate in this ministry.
The custodian of the statue comes a few minutes early to set up. All I needed to provide was a room, table, and refreshments if I wanted (which I did.) I didn’t have the table set up on time, but Ken (the custodian) had his own, including a blue cloth, so he really took care of everything needed. The statue was covered until we were ready to begin.
Once everyone was gathered, he explained a few things to introduce himself and how the visit would go. Next, he asked that the ‘queen of the house’ (me) be the person to crown our Queen of Heaven. He uncovered her and we said a prayer and sang a short song as I crowned her and placed rosary beads over her hands. Next, he spoke with us, explaining the visit to Lucy, Francesco, and Jacina. We learned the history, asked questions, and discussed the reasons behind all the details of her statue from the gold lining on her clothes to her bare feet.
This will stick with me: Padre Pio would tell those who shared visions with him to check their vision’s feet. He once was visited by an apparition who claimed to be Mary, but he noticed he couldn’t see its feet. When he demanded to see its feet, it refused, but finally revealed hooved feet! Ever since then, he proclaimed that you must see the feet of whoever appears! Mary’s feet are always shown in her appearances.
There’s so much I learned but cannot fit in this writing. So, I will go on.
Ken explained that Lucy was the only child to survive into adulthood and she had become a Carmelite nun. When she learned that her mother was dying, she hurried home. On her way, she decided to pray for her sick aunt as well. She went to the shrine that was built at Fatima. She wrote her aunt’s name on a piece of paper and walked on her knees as she prayed. She walked all the way down a limestone hill and buried the paper with her hands. Her aunt was healed!
We then watched a short 10-minute video about the apparitions. During the video, were had the opportunity to write intentions that would be brought to Fatima and volunteers would walk them on their knees to the place where Sister Lucy buried her aunt’s name. Then they place them in a special box. My three-year-old even wrote his name for Mama Mary to pray for him. Then we concluded with a group rosary.
The conversation afterwards was nice too since it got everyone talking about where the world is today and what we do to continue our faith in a seemingly faithless world. We all must do our parts, personally, in our families, in our communities, and in our country.
If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend hosting a visit with the Our Lady of Fatima statue. Bring friends, family, and neighbors. It’s a blessing if only for the story and the group prayer and fellowship.