The Church has dedicated the month of October to the rosary since 1883, when “the rosary pope” Pope Leo XIII directed it. Pope Francis reiterated this call last month, when he invited all the faithful to recite it every day in October.
This month also marked two significant Marian dates. On Oct. 7, the Church observed the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which recalls the outmanned Holy League’s 16th century victory over Turkish invaders at the Battle of Lepanto, which St. Pius V attributed to mass recitation of the prayer. Oct. 13 marked the 101st anniversary of the 1917 “miracle of the sun” in the last apparition of Mary at Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady of Fatima urged praying the rosary.
Fittingly, the Archdiocese of Denver’s new statue of Our Lady of Fatima is now on pilgrimage throughout the diocese to encourage the faithful to recite the rosary. The rosary is a centuries-old Scriptural prayer focused on events in the lives of Jesus and Mary.
“The statue was two years in the making,” said Sam Perry, founder of the Prayer in the Square campaign, which serves to promote the rosary and commissioned the statue. Prayer in the Square partners include The Catholic Foundation, the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Charities.
The Our Lady of Fatima statue was commissioned in Portugal in 2016 as a gift to the archdiocese to mark the then-upcoming 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. Unfortunately, those who carve the statues were overwhelmed with centennial orders and Denver’s didn’t arrive until this spring.
The exquisite five-foot tall statue is made from a single piece of African wood. It depicts Mary in bright white garments with gold trim, holding a rosary and wearing a gleaming gold crown. Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila blessed it in May. Such statues are believed to carry the moral presence of Mary.
“We wanted the statue so it could visit schools and parishes where time could be set aside to pray the rosary,” said Tom Morroni, a member of the Prayer in the Square Committee. “This is meant to pass the rosary on to the next generation.”
Catholic schools and parishes are invited to host the statue for a two-week period. It arrives with rosaries made in the Holy Land and pocket-sized blue-covered books (in English and in Spanish) on how to recite it that are given away for free.
Organizers encourage parishes to offer special events related to the visit to foster devotion to the rosary, such as a time for daily public recitation of it. A film about the Fatima apparitions is also available for parishes to offer a movie night for families.
The statue’s pilgrimage started in June. It is currently at Queen of Peace Church in Aurora. The first parish to host it was Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Foxfield. Our Lady Mother of the Church in Commerce City soon followed.
“I wanted to have it because our parish is dedicated to Mary,” said Msgr. Jorge de los Santos, Pastor of the predominately Hispanic parish. “It’s good to have devotion to Our Mother [Mary], the Mother of God. She is the first disciple, our mother and our model of discipleship.”
As a result of the visit, he said, the parish has continued to pray the rosary as a community before each Mass on Sundays.
Father Michael Freihofer, Pastor of Our Lady of the Snow in Granby and Spiritual Director for the World Apostolate of Fatima’s Denver Division, recently hosted a visit.
“We will accept a life-size statue of Mary at our churches (he oversees five) any time we can get her!” he said. “We get to see how powerful her intercession is. … I get to hear the stories of healing.”
Father Freihofer credits the Blessed Mother with protecting him from falling into mortal sin at age 21.
“The Blessed Virgin beckoned me not to fall into it,” he said. “By God’s grace, I avoided it. My whole path in life could have gone astray if I would have committed that sin.”
He also credits Mary with his vocation to the priesthood.
“In 1995, I felt I wasn’t a very holy person, even though I was going to Mass every Sunday and going to confession bi-monthly. I determined to pray the rosary every day beginning on January 1, 1996. … By August 1999, I was in the seminary.”
His devotion to Mary is summarized in one statement.
“The quickest way to holiness is having Mary at your side,” he asserted.
Schedule the Our Lady of Fatima statue to come to your parish or school