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Thousands at Fatima Shrine pray for peace in the Holy Land and Ukraine

Thousands prayed for peace at the Fatima shrine in Portugal Oct. 12, 2023. / Credit: EWTN

ACI Prensa Staff, Oct 13, 2023 / 18:44 pm (CNA).

A crowd of more than 180,000 pilgrims packed the shrine of the Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal to pray for peace in the Holy Land and Ukraine and “for all the places where peace is lacking.”

The shrine’s website reported that on Oct. 12, on the eve of the commemoration of the “miracle of the sun” which took place on Oct. 13, 1917, the candlelight event was presided by Cardinal Américo Aguiar, the bishop-elect of Setúbal and president of the organizing committee for World Youth Day (WYD) 2023, held in August in Lisbon.

In his reflection before the faithful from 35 different countries, the cardinal encouraged them to pray to the “Mother of Heaven” for “the gift of peace” for Ukraine, for “the Land of Jesus and for all places where peace is lacking.”

“When we talk about Fatima we talk about peace, and unfortunately this is a gift that is lacking: it is lacking in our beloved Ukraine and in our beloved Land of Jesus. Therefore, we want to ask our Mother for peace for these places and the world.”

The cardinal then asked: “Why is there war in the world? I don’t know how to explain it. (…) But I do know that it means losing children, young people, women, the poor, the least…”

“The drama of the war in Ukraine and now the drama of the war in the Holy Land, in Israel and in the Palestinian territories, in the Gaza Strip, there are situations that concern us and to which we cannot be indifferent. These are situations that mark our pilgrimage,” Aguiar said.

The apparitions at Fatima took place in the context of World War I but Our Lady warned that “if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out” which was fulfilled by World War II. Our Lady also asked for “the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart ” and warned that Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world” if her call for repentance went unheeded. After Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart on March 25, an act that his predecessors had carried out in various ways.

The rector of the Fatima Shrine, Father Carlos Cabecinhas, also noted that a “great ecclesial prayer intention” is “the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops” which is taking place at the Vatican.

The Synod on Synodality was announced in October 2021 under the theme “For a synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission.” Participating in the session taking place in Rome this October are 363 people including bishops, religious, priests, deacons, and laypeople. For the first time, non-bishops — including 54 women — will have the right to vote.

The miracle of the sun at Fatima

On Oct. 13, 1917, while thousands of pilgrims were in Fatima, Portugal, the “miracle of the sun” occurred, where the sun could be seen moving, doing a kind of “dance.”

The event lasted about three minutes and happened after the last apparition of the Virgin Mary to the little shepherds Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucía.

A journalist for the Portuguese newspaper O Século, Avelino de Almeida, estimated that at the time of the miracle, there were about 40,000 people present, but the professor of natural sciences at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, Joseph Garrett, calculated that about 100,000 people witnessed the miraculous phenomenon.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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