This year we are celebrating the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal. Cardinal Vincent recently welcomed the National Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima to London and led a diocesan pilgrimage to the shrine at Fatima.
In May, on the anniversary of the first apparition, Pope Francis visited Fatima and canonised two of the seers, St Francisco and St Jacinta. They were only children when they saw Our Lady and received her messages. They were poor, worked in the fields as little shepherds and died very young from influenza.
Yet again, we see that Our Lady chooses the humble and pure in heart to act as great apostles of her messages to the whole world. This echoes her song in praise of God that we read in the Gospel, ‘He pulls down princes from their thrones and raises the lowly’ (Luke 1:52).
For a hundred years, the message of Fatima has resounded throughout the world. It is a simple message in complete accordance with the Gospel: prayer, penance and peace. It represents an invitation for each of us, even those who are powerful, to humble ourselves before Jesus and Mary, and to become messengers of prayer, penance and peace for the world, beginning at home and in our immediate surroundings.
In the days leading up to the next World Youth Day, Pope Francis has asked young people to look to Mary and reflect upon her mission in the Gospel and the world. Let us imitate her Immaculate Heart in its humility and purity, becoming apostles of mercy and peace today.