By Thomas Dompkowski
The 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparition in Fatima was celebrated in grand fashion on Friday, October 13th at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Hundreds gathered with many more watching via the Eternal Word Television Network to witness and participate in a communal rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, and the consecration of the United States of America to the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima. The basilica lights dimmed, the people lifted up their candles, and lovingly held their rosaries as Monsignor Walter Rossi, the rector of the Shrine, went to a pulpit to begin the candlelight rosary procession. The rosary, the following prayers, and reflection were all led by His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of the Diocese of Washington.
In Fatima, from 1916 to 1917, Our Lady made many appearances to three shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta. Mother Mary gave three major requests to them, and, by extension, to all the people of the entire world: repent for your sins, pray the rosary, and express deep devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
Mary told the shepherd children: “Men must amend their lives, and ask pardon for their sins . . . They must no longer offend Our Lord, who is already so much offended.” Even one hundred years later, Mary is still calling the people of the world to repent for the wrongs they have committed.
Sister Lucia, one of the children to whom Mary appeared at Fatima, emphasized the importance of the rosary.
“My impression is that the rosary is of greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady at Fatima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God.”
On her second apparition to the shepherd children on June 13th, 1917, Mary said “Jesus wishes to establish throughout the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”
Rachel Wood, freshman english and theology double major, was eager to attend the commemoration of the 100th anniversary.
“We are extremely blessed to be able to celebrate one of the greatest Marian apparitions of our time at the largest church dedicated to Mary in our country,” Wood said. “Mary appeared to the unlikeliest individuals, three shepherd children, and gave them an incredible role in her mission and promised to console them in their suffering. Fatima is meaningful to me not only as a testament to her motherly love, but also because the message she delivered is just as crucial for our times as it was one hundred years ago.”
Grady Connelly, a freshman business management major who was an altar server during the consecration, expressed similar gratitude to be present at the event.
“It was a beautiful opportunity to come together with the DC community and celebrate Mary on the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions.” Connelly said. “It is an honor and special privilege to serve at the Lord’s altar in Mary’s House. This is a wake-up call for partaking in prayer.”
Lindsey Valancius, a freshman english and biology major, noted the importance of the theme of going to Jesus through Mary present throughout the event.
“The statue of Mary was positioned with Jesus behind her overlooking the Basilica. The rosary, the prayer of Mary, preceded Eucharistic adoration, the prayer to Christ,” Valancius said. “Both illustrate how as Catholics, we go to Jesus through the intercession of His Blessed Mother.”
For these three students, the most impactful moment was the entrance of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, dressed in white and dazzling gold, with her pierced Immaculate Heart in stark contrast to the white. The statue was decorated with vibrant flowers, and accompanied by a call of trumpets. As it was carried up to the main altar, it was followed by the blast of the organ and the singing of beautiful Marian hymns.