Cardinal Vincent Nichols has crowned a statue of Our Lady of Fátima in the centenary year of her appearance, and re-consecrated England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
At a packed Westminster Cathedral, filled to its 3,000 capacity and with large crowds spilling into the plaza, Cardinal Nichols led the prayer of consecration, which includes the sentence: “To you and your Immaculate Heart, in this centenary year of the apparitions of Fátima, we re-consecrate ourselves in union not only with the Church, the Mystical Body of your Son, but also with the entire world.”
The cardinal was renewing a consecration made by his predecessor as Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Bernard Griffin, in 1948.
In May 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fátima, Portugal. She told them of a coming upheaval in the world, linked especially to Russia, which would cause terrible suffering. She also reminded the children of the danger of hell, and asked them to pray the rosary and make sacrifices for sinners.
She explained that there would be a great event on October 13. That day, vast crowds gathered, and the “Miracle of the Sun” took place, at which many onlookers saw the sun dance.
Catholics are not obliged to believe in the Fátima revelations, but the Church has officially declared them “worthy of belief”, and Our Lady of Fátima has a central place in Marian devotion.
In his homily, Cardinal Nichols said the apparitions presented a “considerable challenge”, and that Catholics must ask themselves: “How well do we express our discipleship of Christ every day? How are we getting on in those two ways of giving time to the Lord and to others: in those areas of prayer and sacrifice?”
The cardinal recommended the rosary as a prayer to help one to say “yes” to God, which was, he said the essence of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.