From Our Own Correspondent CARDINAL LARRAONA, C.M.F., Prefect of the Sacred ‘-.4 Congregation of Rites, told nearly half a million pilgrims at Fatima, last week, that Our Lady's call for prayer and penance at Fatima 46 years ago is taking effect. The cardinal was presiding at ceremonies marking the 46th anniversary of Our Lady's appearances to three children of Fatima: Lucy, Francisco and Jacinta.
He remarked that Fatima is now a leading centre of spirituality, known the world over for its spirit of penance and prayer. "The year 1917 was a decisive and historic year, both politically and religiously", he said. "As revolutionary doctrines spread all over the world during the First World War and brought new divisions and war, Our Lady appeared here to remind us that God chose her maternal heart as a symbol of His everlasting mercy.
"God is not only a Father", the cardinal declared. "Through Mary? He shows His infinite maternity.'
A Iridium of prayer and special Masses in the basilica at Fatima on May 9, 10 and II prepared for the anniversary celebrations.
After a candlelight procession on the Sunday night, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed on an open-air altar in front of the basilica and Holy Hours were preached through the night. Long queries stretched outside confessionals on both sides of the basilica, and priests heard confessions in numerous different languages. Some 45,000 pilgrims received Holy Communion at the Mass of General Communion which was celebrated at the open-air altar the following morning. Pope John, in a special message, recalled his own visit to Fatima in 1956 while he was Patriarch of Venice, and he called on the pilgrims to pray and do penance for the success of the Ecumenical Council.
Cardi L nal aiTaona offered the first Mass to be said in honour of Our Lady of Fatima as patroness of the diocese of Leiria, the diocese that includes Fatima.
The Mass is the same as the one said for the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (August 2) except for two prayers. the Collect and the Post-communion, which Pope John composed.