The programme for the World Apostolate of Fatima National Pilgrim Virgin statue’s visitations to the cathedrals of England and Wales, including Middlesbrough, is underway.

Cardinal Nichols received, blessed and crowned the statue at a packed Westminster Cathedral. It was a wonderful day with many people left outside in the plaza and a palpable sense of joy.

The statue and relics of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto will be visiting St Mary’s Cathedral and parishes around the diocese from September 9 to 15.

This is the centenary year of the Fatima apparitions, which took place between May and October 1917. Our Lady appeared to Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were beatified in May 2000, and Lucia dos Santos, who died in 2005. For more details see: www.worldfatima-englandwales.org.uk

Cardinal Nichols consecrated England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in an act which included these words: “To you and your Immaculate Heart, in this centenary year of the apparitions at Fatima, we re-consecrate ourselves in union not only with the Church, the Mystical Body of your Son, but also with the entire world.”

In his homily, which focused on the importance of devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart and the Rosary, Cardinal Nichols said: “Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a way for us to say ‘Yes’ from the depths of our hearts.

“That is why today we consecrate afresh ourselves, our lives, our country, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that we can always be saying ‘Yes’ to the Lord, with all our heart, with all our will, from the centre of our being. And only Mary can teach us how to do this.

“I pray that the pilgrimage of this statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be a time of grace for many, as they honour Our Lady of Fatima in this centenary year.”

The cardinal emphasised the importance of the Rosary and praying it in the family, which he recalled doing as a child.

After Mass, crowds of people waited to venerate the relics of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto and pray before the statue. More than 2,500 petitions were received and will be placed under Our Lady’s statue at Fatima.

You can see a 12 -minute video of the Westminster Visitation, here: http://bit.ly/2na6X2f

If you can help with the visitation programme locally, please email: info@worldfatima-englandwales.org.uk or call 07817 839 415.

Donal Anthony Foley, secretary, WAF England and Wales