Parishioners pray before the Our Lady of Fatima statue at Canadian Martyrs Church in Toronto. Photo by Mickey Conlon

Thousands given close encounter with Fatima statue

  • August 25, 2019

Thousands of Catholics gathered at locations across southern Ontario during August to greet and venerate the renowned statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

The statue was met by faithful at 13 parishes and missions throughout the area in its only Canadian appearances beginning Aug. 3 and wrapping up with a stop at St. Joseph Church in Grimsby, Ont., in the St. Catharines diocese on Aug. 20.

On Aug. 15, the statue arrived at Canadian Martyrs Church in Toronto’s east end at noon, accompanied by custodians Tom Ross and Larry Maginot. It took its place on the altar and the church remained open as people dropped in during the rest of the day to pray before the statue and take photos. Mass was celebrated with the statue later that day. It departed the next day at 10 a.m. 

It was a similar scene at all the churches the statue visited, said Ross. The previous evening at Chinese Martyrs Parish in Markham, Ont., Ross said there were hundreds of people who came to celebrate Mass with the figure of Our Lady.

The statue was sculpted in 1947 by José Thedim under the direction of Sr. Lucia dos Santos, one of the children who Our Lady is said to have appeared to in 1917. On the 13th day of the month from May through October, Mary is said to have appeared to the three shepherd children — Sr. Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco Marto — in Fatima, Portugal. Her message to the children has come to be known as the “Peace Plan from Heaven” that calls for a world devotion to the Immaculate Heart to save souls and bring peace to the world. 

Sr. Lucia is reported to have remarked of the statue that she had never seen an image that so accurately captured the actual apparition of Our Lady.

For nearly 70 years the statue has travelled the world. In 2014 it was placed under the auspices of the World Apostolate of Fatima, U.S.A.. The tours aim to bring the graces of Fatima and Our Lady’s message of hope, peace and salvation to those who can’t make a pilgrimage to Fatima.

The statue heads to California’s mission churches in September. The schedule for this year also includes St. Paul, Minn.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Santa Fe, N.M.

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