Benedict Claridad participated at the Rosary Coast to Coast procession in 2019 when he carried the statue of Our Lady of the Cape. Photo courtesy Marsha Claridad

Teen helps build spiritual bouquet against pandemic

  • May 10, 2020

If there’s strength in numbers, 14-year-old Benedict Joseph Claridad has been building spiritual muscle around the world.

Claridad is the Toronto, homeschooled database manager and website designer for a global effort to pray away COVID-19 with rosaries and prayer intentions to be gathered at the Fatima Shrine in Portugal on Oct. 13. Since its launch on Feb. 26, this giant spiritual bouquet has gathered pledges for nearly half a million rosaries and almost 600,000 other prayers and devotions at

The goal is five million rosaries and as many prayers and devotions as possible. The database displaying numbers of prayers and rosaries pledged is a way of strengthening and encouraging people in their prayer, said Claridad.

“People can see how many prayers have been submitted. The more prayers the more encouraged they will be to pray. That’s been my point of view,” Claridad told The Catholic Register.

These prayers are being gathered and offered under the patronage of St. Jacinta and St. Francisco, two young witnesses to the apparitions at Fatima who later died during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. The two children were canonized by Pope Francis in 2017.

When Claridad started working on the project in December, it wasn’t about the pandemic that would in a few months bring the world to a halt. Back then, it was an effort co-ordinated by the Children of the Eucharist & Young Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in large part to promote the upcoming film Fatima, starring Harvey Keitel and Sonia Braga.

Getting the prayer pledge forms and the website working was a challenge, but so too has been the coping with the evolving nature of the project.

As the coronavirus pandemic grew, at various stages organizers chose to add or subtract prayers from the options available in the spiritual bouquet. While the theatre release of Fatima has been set back four months to Aug. 14, the prayer campaign has gained a new focus on the pandemic.

People pledging prayers and rosaries “are excited by the movie, but twice as much by the spiritual bouquet,” said Claridad’s mother, Marsha Claridad. “We need prayer for the end of the pandemic.”

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