Fatima centenary brings Mary to Colorado

Pilgrim Virgin statue in Denver, Colorado Springs through April 8

Roxanne King

If you can’t travel to Portugal this year for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, take heart, Mary has come to visit you.

The International Pilgrim Virgin statue, which was carved and blessed in Fatima, Portugal, is in the Denver and Colorado Springs dioceses now through April 8.

“Mary comes to visit her children,” Carl Malburg, custodian, told the Denver Catholic. “[She] goes to distant places to see the people who can’t visit Fatima.”

On May 13, 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children at Fatima and again on the 13th of each month through October, bringing the world a message of conversion, prayer and penance. The three young seers were Lucia dos Santos, 10, and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 9 and 7 respectively.

At the last apparition, which included the famed “miracle of the sun” witnessed by thousands and reported by newspapers, Mary called herself “the Lady of the Rosary.”

The Church later declared the apparitions worthy of belief.

“The first Pilgrim Virgin statue was commissioned and blessed in 1947 by the bishop of Fatima so everyone could learn about the Fatima message,” Malburg said.

It was sculpted by Jose Thedim based on the description of Lucia, who had become a Carmelite nun.

“The original one was very busy, but after 25 to 30 years they retired it,” Malburg said. “What I and others have are (hand-carved) copies of the original. The bishop (of Fatima) recognizes about 12 or 15.”

People are captivated by the beauty of the statue and feel Mary’s presence, Malburg said.

“When we look at pictures of people, we feel closer to them,” he said. “That’s the moral presence. That moral presence is very strong in the statue. … You really can’t explain it without experiencing it.”

The Fatima message complements the Lenten practices of prayer and sacrifice, Malburg said, adding it’s a special grace that she has come to the faithful during Lent.

“On Ash Wednesday we make nice commitments but we are weak little children who need to ask our Mother to help us,” he said. “Ask her to help you to do a better quality rosary and other disciplines. She wants to be our help.”

The Fatima message of conversion, prayer and penance is as relevant today as it was when given 100 years ago, Malburg said.

“We’ve already had three popes in the 21st century and they’ve all said its more relevant today than then,” he said. “Pope Francis will be in Fatima on May 13, the 100th anniversary. Why would the pope choose to travel to that spot? He wants to remind people to be even more aware of Fatima and its importance.”

Miracles of conversion and cures accompany Mary’s visits, Malburg said.

“Wherever we go, that’s what results,” he said, cautioning, “We’re here today and gone tomorrow. What we hope is that a new spirit of prayer and a new spirit of Eucharistic reverence will remain.”

People who return to the Church or to confession after years away are the most important miracles that occur, emphasized Malburg, as those who are healed of physical ailments will eventually die of something else.

“But when we return to the sacraments,” he said, “to Communion and confession, it changes someone’s eternity.”

The Pilgrim Virgin statue will be at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception March 18 and at Regis University March 28-29. It will also visit several Catholic grade schools and parishes. The tour will conclude with a pro-life procession and rosary in front of Planned Parenthood in Glenwood Springs. For the complete schedule, visit www.pilgrimvirginstatue.com and click on “tour” then “Colorado.”

The remaining schedule is also available to view on the Denver Catholic event page.

COMING UP: One Million Rosaries and more for Fatima Centennial celebration

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Next year will mark 100 years since Our Lady appeared to the young shepherds at Fatima in Portugal, and Lakewood’s own Our Lady of Fatima Parish is already preparing to go all out to celebrate the centennial anniversary.

A multitude of events from now until next October are planned at Our Lady of Fatima, not the least of which includes Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila consecrating the parish as a pilgrimage site on Oct. 23 until Oct. 14, 2017. However, perhaps the biggest event Our Lady of Fatima is hosting for the centennial celebration is a “One Million Rosaries” campaign, which is already underway.

In planning the events for the celebration, Fatima centennial coordinator Mary Herzogenrath said the thought to hold a rosary campaign came to her one morning at 5:13 a.m. — an appropriately providential time, she said, considering Our Lady of Fatima’s feast day is May 13. “It’s all about the rosary,” she thought, and the next day she shared her idea with the planning committee.

They initially decided on 500,000 rosaries prayed, but Herzogenrath said they decided to “reach for the stars” and go for 1,000,000 rosaries prayed by October 2017. Anybody anywhere in the world can participate in the campaign, and can log their rosaries prayed by going to the Fatima Centennial website and clicking the “Record My Tally” button on the right-hand side of the page. As of this writing, they have over 443,000 rosaries prayed, and that number is steadily increasing.

Our Lady of Fatima Church #2_WEB

Our Lady of Fatima parish in Lakewood is planning many different events for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in Portugal. The parish will be consecrated as a pilgrimage site Oct. 23 until Oct. 14, 2017. (Photo by James Baca | Denver Catholic)

The website has a counter that keeps track of the rosaries prayed, but Our Lady of Fatima also keeps track at their church through a brightly illuminated rosary light that hangs on the outside of the parish.

Other events happening in the remainder of 2016 at Our Lady of Fatima for this centennial celebration include a living rosary led by school children Oct. 21 and a talk on the topic of the rosary by Dr. Edward Sri Nov. 16. In 2017, they will host a choir concert in February or March, a three-day visit from the world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima in September and much more that’s in the planning stages.

Our Lady of Fatima is one of the Catholic Church’s most popular apparitions and devotions. Our Lady appeared to three young shepherds on May 13, 1917, in Fatima, Portugal. It was the first of several appearances she would make to them over a six-month period. During the last apparition, Our Lady announced, “I am the Lady of the Rosary” and instructed the people of the earth to ask forgiveness from the Lord for their sins. Then, the sun grew pale and began emitting every color of the spectrum before coming closer and closer to earth. According to tradition, this phenomenon has come to be known as the “dancing sun.”

Fatima Centennial

To stay up to date on the Fatima Centennial events and to participate in the One Million Rosaries campaign, visit http://fatimacentennial.com