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Patriarch to consecrate the Middle East to the Immaculate Heart

The statue of the Virgin Mary is carried during a Mass at the Fatima Shrine (Getty images)

The head of the Maronite Church is to consecrate Lebanon and the whole of the Middle East to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during a pilgrimage to Fatima.

The act of consecration by Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai will take place during a Eucharistic liturgy on Sunday, according to Fides news agency. It will mark the culmination of “Lebanon Day” at the shrine, which will begin late on Saturday with the recitation of the Rosary and a candlelit procession.

Fides said Patriarch Rai has already consecrated Lebanon and the Middle East to the Immaculate Heart but at a Marian shrine in Harissa, Lebanon, rather than at Fatima.

The Portuguese shrine is marking 100 years since Mary first appeared to three children on the site. Pope Francis canonised two of the seers last month.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, re-consecrated England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in February. The consecration was first made by Cardinal Bernard Griffin in 1948.

Pope Francis, meanwhile, consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart within months of his election as Pope, following the example of Pope Pius XII and St John Paul II.