By CNA Staff
Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Vatican announced on Tuesday.
The Holy See press office said on March 15: “On Friday, March 25, during the Celebration of Penance at which he will preside at 5 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
“The same act, on the same day, will be carried out in Fatima by His Eminence Cardinal Krajewski, Apostolic Almoner, as envoy of the Holy Father.”
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski was one of two papal envoys sent to Ukraine last week in an expression of the pope’s concern for the war-torn country’s population.
March 25 was the day in 1984 that Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is also the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.
Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops asked Pope Francis earlier this month to consecrate Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In a letter to the pope, the Ukrainian bishops said that they were writing “in these hours of immeasurable pain and terrible ordeal for our people” in response to many requests for the consecration.
“Responding to this prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to publicly perform the act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima,” said the letter, published on the bishops’ website on Ash Wednesday, March 2.
Following the bishops’ call, Our Lady of Fatima shrines worldwide were invited to unite in prayer for the conversion of Russia.
The appeal was made by Father Andrzej Draws, rector of the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima in Krisovychi, western Ukraine.
He encouraged all shrines in honor of Our Lady of Fatima to unite in prayer for the conversion of Russia on March 13.
Ukraine and Russia, the two largest countries in Europe by area, are both predominantly Eastern Orthodox countries with deep traditions of Marian devotion.
Yaroslav the Wise, the grand prince of Kyiv, dedicated his lands to Mary in 1037 and she has been known since then as “Queen of Ukraine.” Pope Francis used the title in his Angelus address on March 6, saying: “Let us pray together, as brothers and sisters, to Our Lady, Queen of Ukraine.”
Before the revolutions of 1917 that overthrew the Russian Empire and led to the creation of the Soviet Union, Russia was colloquially known as the “house of Mary” because there were more shrines and churches dedicated to Our Lady than in any other country at the time.
During the Fatima apparitions in 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed three secrets.
The second secret was a statement that World War I would end, and a prediction of another war that would start during the reign of Pius XI if people continued to offend God and Russia was not consecrated to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
Sister Lucia, one of the three Fatima visionaries, recalled in her memoirs that Our Lady asked for “the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays” to prevent a second world war.
She said that Mary told her: “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”
“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In a letter written in 1989, Sister Lucia confirmed that Pope John Paul II satisfied Our Lady’s request for Russia’s consecration in 1984. Other authorities, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also have affirmed the consecration was completed to Sister Lucia’s satisfaction.