Apr 21, 2017 / 03:02 am
The canonization of Fatima visionaries Francisco and Jacinta Marto has been hailed as an exciting moment for the Church, but the rector of the Marian shrine has said that it bears an even greater significance in terms of putting a spotlight on Our Lady’s message.
“I think the canonization in a certain way helps to give credibility to the apparitions and to the message of Fatima,” Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas told CNA.
This is an “indirect credibility,” he said, but one which nonetheless “makes us look to the protagonists of the events of Fatima and to see their holiness, the holiness with which they challenge us to live this message.”
Mary appeared to Francisco, Jacinta and their cousin Lucia May 13, 1917, for the first time, asking them to pray the rosary and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, which they did with decisive commitment.
Our Lady continued to appear to them on the 13th of each month until October of that year, making constant appeals for an increase in faith, hope, conversion and prayers for peace. In addition, she also revealed to the children three “secrets,” which are now known to be a vision of hell interpreted as scenes from World War II, the rise and fall of Soviet Communism, and what was a foreshadowing of the 1981 assassination attempt on St. John Paul II.
After the apparitions, Francisco and Jacinta Marto died in 1918 after a serious bout of the Spanish flu at 9 and 11, but were known to pray often and offered up daily sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and an increase in love for God.
In this context, Fr. Cabecinhas said he believes the canonization of siblings Francisco and Jacinta “has this value: not only two Saints in the Church, but two Saints who challenge us to look to the message of Fatima and to understand that Fatima is also a school of holiness for each one of us.”
Fr. Cabecinhas has been the rector of the Fatima Marian Shrine since 2011, and is in charge of the bulk of preparations for the Pope’s May 12-13 visit.
He said the centenary of the apparitions, the canonization and the growing anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit “is a moment of great joy” for the people of Portugal, but also for him personally.
“For me it has been a great gift of God to be able to live this moment before the shrine and to have in my hands the decisions of the Shrine. It’s a gift of God, but also a great responsibility,” he said, explaining that they are in the midst of making final preparations.
In general, preparations are going “very well,” he said, noting that all of the big decisions have been made and things are falling into place, so it’s down to the final, last-minute work of getting ready to host an estimated 500-800,000 pilgrims during the May celebrations.
Speaking of the reason why pilgrims choose to visit Fatima in particular, the priest said it’s “without a doubt” because “they seek a strong experience of God, a strong encounter with God.” …
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