On Saturday 18th February on the occasion of the visit of the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, in the centenary year of the apparitions, to Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Vincent consecrated England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In the Act of Consecration, a modified version of the one used by Cardinal Griffin in the Abbey grounds in Walsingham on 16th July 1948, he said: ‘To 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’.
The consecration took place at the end of Mass which began with the procession of the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue, borne by Knights of St Columba and accompanied by children dressed as Lucia dos Santos and Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, carrying the crown and the relics of Bl Jacinta and Franciso, and joined by members of the World Apostolate of Fatima.
Immediately following the procession, Cardinal Nichols crowned the statue with a silvergilt crown presented by Jorge Leitão of the firm of Leitão and Irmão who created the original crown in Fatima in 1942.
Catholics from across England and Wales filled the cathedral for the Mass, which was celebrated by Cardinal Nichols along with priests from several dioceses.
In his homily, the Cardinal referred to the words of Pope St John Paul at the beatification Mass of Francisco and Jacinta when he told the children present that Jesus ‘needs your prayers and sacrifices for sinners’. Reflecting on these words which he called a ‘considerable challenge’, the Cardinal asked ‘How well do we express our discipleship of Christ every day?’
The answer, he affirmed, lies in ‘what we know of Our Lady of Fatima and what she has to say to us’, explaining that she ‘has a strong relevance to us today’.
He focused on the devotion to the Immaculate Heart, saying that it offers us ‘an attitude of heart that accords with Our Lady’s, and so opens up pathways, fresh and sure, towards Christ’.
The Cardinal also spoke of the bullets from the assassination attempt on the life of Pope St John Paul in 1981, of which one has been placed in the crown in Fatima, referring to its journey ‘from an instrument of death to a beacon of reconciliation and hope’ as ‘a wonderful allegory of how the prayers of Our Lady and the faith of believers are far, far more than a nice idea. They can truly change the world.’
Noting that the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue was on a journey around the cathedrals of England and Wales, he said: ‘I pray that this will be a time of grace for many, as they honour Our Lady of Fatima in this centenary year.’
The Mass was followed by veneration of the relics of Bl Jacinta and Francisco.
Additional photos are available here.
The full text of Cardinal Vincent's homily is available here.
The full text of the Act of Consecration:
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Refuge of the Human Race, Mother of the Church, we turn to you, confident that we shall receive mercy, grace, assistance and protection, through the great goodness of your Maternal Heart.
To you and your Immaculate Heart, in this centenary year of the apparitions of Fatima, we re-consecrate ourselves in union not only with the Church, the Mystical Body of your Son, but also with the entire world.
May the sight of the widespread material and moral destruction, the sorrows and anguish of countless fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and innocent children, and the souls in danger of being lost eternally, move you to compassion.
O Mother of Mercy, Queen of Peace, through your intercession obtain peace for us from God through his grace; peace in truth, justice and charity, that the Kingdom of God may prevail.
Extend your protection to those who do not believe and do not find hope in God, and to all those still in the shadow of death; give them peace and grant that on them, too, may shine the sun of truth, that they may unite with us in proclaiming before the one and only Saviour of the world: ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of good will.’
Give peace to those who have separated themselves from you; bring them back to the fold of Christ under the one true shepherd.
Obtain peace for the Holy Church of God; stop the spread of secularism and relativism; enkindle in the faithful the love of purity, the practice of Christian life, and an apostolic zeal, so that the servants of God may increase in merit and number.
We consecrate ourselves forever to you and to your Immaculate Heart, Our Mother and Queen; that your love and patronage may hasten the triumph of the Kingdom of God and that all nations, at peace with one another and with God, may proclaim you blessed and with you may raise their voices to sing the everlasting Magnificat of glory, love and gratitude to the Heart of Jesus, where alone they can find truth and peace.