Our Lady of Fatima. | Ricardo Perna / Shutterstock.
A special statue of Our Lady of Fatima has arrived in Ukraine, ahead of Pope Francis’ consecration of the country and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“The Center of the Shrine of Fatima (Portugal) provides us with an official copy of the Statue of the Mother of God of Fatima, to ask God for protection and peace in Ukraine and the world in her presence,” the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Lviv announced on Facebook Wednesday.
The church will house the statue from March 17 to April 15, the post read. After departing from Portugal, the statue visited Krakow, Poland, before continuing to Lviv.
The statue comes at the request of Archbishop Ihor Vozniak of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. It is one of 13 official copies of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima that travel worldwide. Carved in 1920, sculptor José Ferreira Tedin created the original statue with the help of Sister Lucia, one of the three children at the Marian apparitions in Fatima in 1917.
At the statue’s departure ceremony, Father Joaquim Ganhão, the director of the department for liturgy of the Fatima Shrine, asked for prayers for the victims of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“War is not to be answered with war, evil is not to be answered with evil, hatred is not to be answered with hatred,” he said, Vatican News reported. “We must open our doors and recognize that the other is not our enemy, the other is not our rival, but is our brother, with whom we must build history, build peace, and it is a demanding job.”
The statue will be in Ukraine when Pope Francis dedicates the country and Russia to Mary’s heart. The Vatican first announced on March 15 that the pope will perform the consecration in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, will do the same at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
Pope John Paul II also consecrated Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, in 1984.
Pope Francis’ decision comes after Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops asked the pontiff earlier this month “to publicly perform the act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima.”
Russia is intricately connected to the Fatima apparitions of 1917, when the Blessed Virgin Mary shared three secrets. The second secret revealed that World War I would end, and predicted another war that would start during the reign of Pius XI if people continued to offend God and Russia was not consecrated to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
Sister Lucia recalled in her memoirs that Our Lady asked for “the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays” to prevent a second world war.
She remembered Mary telling her that “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”
“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” Mary is recorded as saying. “The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In a 1989 letter, Sister Lucia confirmed that Pope John Paul II satisfied Our Lady’s request for Russia’s consecration in 1984. Other authorities, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also have affirmed the consecration was completed to Sister Lucia’s satisfaction.