The Bishops of England and Wales have decided to restore two of the old Holy Days of Obligation to their original days, that is Epiphany on 6 January, twelve days after Christmas; and Ascension Day on the Thursday forty days after Easter Sunday. You can read about the reasons for the change on the Bishops' Conference Website.
In this hundredth anniversary year of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, forty-four pilgrims from Oxford and York joined Fr Daniel and Fr Richard to pray at the shrine of Our Lady.
On 13th September 1917, when Our Lady appeared for the fifth time to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, 30,000 people defied the atheistic press and government to join them. On 13th September 2017, many more hundreds of thousands gathered at the Cova da Iria for Mass celebrated by Cardinal Piacenza, who preached forcefully about the need for Christians to be counter-cultural.
At the end of Mass, Our Lady's statue was returned to the Chapel of Apparitions. The special crown which the statue wears on the 13th of each month was given in 1946 by the mothers of Portugal, in thanksgiving that their country had stayed out of the Second World War. When on 13th May 1982, St John Paul II brought one of the bullets which had shot him exactly one year before, the bullet was found to fit precisely under the cross and orb of the crown. He said of the assassination attempt, "One hand fired, and another guided the bullet."
The Basilica of the Holy Rosary contains the tombs of Jacinta and Francisco, who were canonized on 13th May this year, and of their cousin Lucia, who died in 2005:
In 1917 Our Lady asked for Russia to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. Large numbers of pilgrims from behind the former Iron Curtain come to give thanks for their deliverance from Communism. At the end of Mass on the 13th, Cardinal Dominik Duka of Prague presented a copy of the statue of the Infant of Prague to the sanctuary of Fatima. A portion of the Berlin Wall stands as a reminder of Our Lady's intercession. Here are Mrs Asta Simpson, originally from Berlin, and Dr Masha Unkovskaya, who was born in St Petersburg, which was known at the time as Leningrad:
In the evening we prayed the Rosary in front of the Chapel of the Apparitions and joined in the beautiful torchlight procession:
Mass in St Joseph's Chapel on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross:
Along the Way of the Cross we were able to gain some idea of what Fatima must have looked like in 1917 when Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia grazed their sheep:
Only one of the visions of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 took place away from the Cove da Iria. This is because the children were prevented from going there on 13th August by being kidnapped and imprisoned by the local authorities. They refused to deny the visions even when they were separated and threatened with being boiled in oil. Our Lady appeared instead on 19th August at Valinhos. It was there that she told the children that on 13th October she would perform a miracle. This was to be the Miracle of the Sun.
At the Calvary which concludes the Stations of the Cross:
In the Spring of 1916, the first vision of the Angel of Peace took place at Chousa Velha:
The village of Aljustrel is where the three child visionaries lived. There are still sheep next to Lucia's house:
The second vision of the Angel of Peace took place by the well of this house in the summer of 1916:
On the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows we had Mass in the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows:
This chapel has a striking window showing the Miracle of the Sun, which took place on 13th October 1917:
On one day of our pilgrimage we went out to visit Batalha and Nazaré. Batalha has a magnificent abbey, where many of the kings and queens of Portugal are buried, including Philippa of Lancaster, Queen of Portugal from 1387-1415. Her marriage to João I brought about the Treaty of Windsor, beginning the alliance between England and Portugal which still lasts to this day, and is the longest-lasting treaty of friendship between two nations in the history of the world. Long may it continue!
The Abbey of Batalha:
The shrine of Our Lady at Nazaré recalls the saving of the local mayor (and his horse) from tumbling to the death in the fog over the cliff top. An ancient statue of Our Lady was found where she appeared.
Fr Richard in holiday mode:
The sea at Nazaré is rather treacherous, which precluded swimming, though some of the more adventurous members of our party dipped their toes:
After consuming some of the freshly-caught sardines, we still had time to visit the unmissable Museum of Dried Fish:
On our last day in Fatima, we were able to celebrate Mass in the well-equipped chapel of our own hotel, the Tres Pastorinhos:
From Fatima we headed up to Galicia to visit the tomb of the Apostle St James:
Even though we had travelled by coach, rather than the accepted methods of foot, bicycle or horse, we embraced the statue of St James and took part in the Pilgrim Mass. We did in fact see a group of equestrian pilgrims arriving in Santiago. At the end of the Pilgrim Mass the famous botafumeiro was swung:
St Martin's Abbey has a statue of St Philip, looking rather Spanish!
From Santiago, we went back down into Portugal. In Braga the shrine of Bom Jesus do Monte has many steps with chapels recreating the journey of Our Lord to Calvary:
At the top is the church, where we celebrated Mass:
On our last day we were able to celebrate Mass in the Cathedral of Oporto. We prayed particularly for the bishop of that diocese, who recently died immediately after returning from pilgrimage at Fatima, where he had preached a sermon that deeply affected its hearers.
After Mass we caught a glimpse of the former Oratory church of Oporto:
We were able to enjoy the sunshine of Portugal for a little longer:To see more photographs from Fr Richard's album please click here.
Mozart - Organ Solo Mass
Pitoni - Cantate Domino
Mozart - Ave verum
Many thanks to Simon Crouch for the beautiful photographs of the High Mass in honour of Our Lady of Fatima. Fr Bill Charlton of Stokesley was the celebrant and Fr Richard Ounsworth OP the preacher. The statue and relics have now moved on to Middlesbrough Cathedral. Details of that visit are on a post below. Meanwhile in Fatima itself pilgrims from St Wilfrid's and St Joseph's and the Oxford Oratory are praying for all your intentions. Photographs will follow!
St Wilfrid's is privileged to welcome the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima together with the relics of the canonised visionaries, St Jacinta and St Francisco. The visit to York is from 11 - 13 September 2017. These are special dates as they include the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary on 12 September and the centenary of the fifth apparition on 13 September. The 12.10pm Mass on Monday, 11 September will be a Mass of Welcome. There will be a Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 6pm on Tuesday, 12 September and a Mass of Farewell at 12.10pm on Wednesday, 13 September.
There are many other events in between so please keep an eye on the website, the bulletins or the posters in the back of church. The poster below gives more details.
The Pilgrim Statue is also going to Middlesbrough and to Hull.To know more about the World Apostolate of Fatima UK, please click here. To see the full programme of the UK Pilgrimage please click here.
A useful explanation of the history and benefits of the veneration of the relics of saints (as taught by the Catholic Church) can be found here.