The Fatima centenary is a major moment for the Church in England and Wales

The faithful throw petals as the statue of Our Lady is carried in procession at Fatima (AP)

Next year, from May to October 2017, the Church will be celebrating the centenary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, and the World Apostolate of Fatima (WAF) in England and Wales — a Public International Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right, and officially approved by the Church — is planning various events to promote the Fatima message, which today is more relevant than ever.

In particular, the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which was blessed by Pope Paul VI at Fatima in May 1967, and given to England by the Bishop of Fatima in 1968, will be visiting various Cathedrals and churches around the country. On May 13, 1971, this statue was crowned at Walsingham by Bishop Alan Clark, and it was also blessed by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Britain in 1982.

On May 13, 2017, the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition at Fatima, Archbishop Peter Smith will receive, bless and crown the National Pilgrim Virgin statue in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark.

This beautiful statue will be accompanied by relics of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco for the veneration of the faithful. It is also hoped to arrange DVD and PowerPoint presentations around the country on the significance of the message for the Church today, especially regarding the recitation of the Rosary in the family, and the Five First Saturdays devotion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

These presentation programmes can last from a few hours to a whole day, or even longer. Please see our website for more information (email [email protected]).

In a letter to the national president, Timothy Tindal-Robertson, dated October 31, 2014, Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth approved of the World Apostolate of Fatima England and Wales, saying he was, “particularly pleased to be able to affirm the work that you are doing to promote the regular saying of the Rosary, particularly in family life … I will continue to pray for the success of the World Apostolate of Fatima in this country. Thank you for all that you do”.

It is providential that Pope Francis’s Year of Mercy precedes the Fatima centenary year, because mercy is central to Our Lady’s message, beginning with the announcement of the Angel in the summer of 1916, when he told the children that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary had designs of mercy on them. Likewise, in the July 1917 apparition, the Blessed Virgin told them to pray the Rosary decade prayer: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”

And in the final vision of the Holy Trinity, on June 13, 1929, Lucia saw Christ on the cross with the words Grace and Mercy, as if formed of crystal clear water, falling from its left arm, and Our Lady beneath the cross (cf. Jn 19: 26), with her Immaculate Heart in her hand, offering it to the Holy Trinity.

On May 13, 2013, the month after his election, the bishops of Portugal consecrated Pope Francis’s pontificate to Our Lady at Fatima, in response to his request. Later that year, on October 13, he celebrated the Marian Day in the Year of Faith in St Peter’s Square, in front of the statue of Our Lady that had been brought from Fatima. The Pope renewed the act of entrustment to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, and received our national president, signifying his approval of the work of the World Apostolate of Fatima, an organisation that is spread throughout the world with up to one million members.

By his devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis has shown the Church that the Fatima message remains just as relevant as ever.

In addition, we are organising a “Day with Our Lady of Fatima” at St Francis of Assisi church in Handsworth, Birmingham, on Saturday June 4, when Bishop Robert Byrne will preside, while a Fatima weekend is scheduled for June 10-12 at Pantasaph Friary in North Wales. And our popular National Pilgrimage to Fatima, which flies from Heathrow, and for which places are still available, is from July 7 to July 14, with Fr Gerard Kelly as Spiritual Director, Timothy Tindal-Robertson as Leader, and Mike Daley as Pilgrimage organiser. For more details please go here.

WAF England and Wales also hopes that in 2017, the bishops will renew the Consecration of England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which was made by Cardinal Griffin at Walsingham, on July 16, 1948. We request fervent prayers for this important intention.

Donal Anthony Foley is the Secretary of the World Apostolate of Fatima in England and Wales, and has written books on Marian apparitions and a young adult work of fiction