By Bob Reddy (Florida Catholic)
This iconic statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is constantly on tour throughout the world and has served to inspire and comfort many who have an the opportunity to experience it.
â€śThis was a special moment to prayer before Our Lady of Fatima,â€ť said Margaret Solnacki a seasonal parishioner at St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres. â€śI prayed for my loved ones and for peace. It is the right thing to do in this time of chaos in the world. She is our Queen of Peace.â€ť
Father Dennis Cooney, Pastor of St. Raphael, noted that this was the fourth time the statue had been to the parish and it has brought many graces to all who pray before it for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary
â€śWe have been blessed to be the host parish in the Diocese and it is a joy that more people are able to be in the presence of Our Lady during this visit,â€ť Father Cooney said. At St. Raphael the statue was on display in an area near the altar at each weekend Mass.
Large crowds waited patiently in line to kneel and pray at each of the six parishes in the Diocese the statue visited. A box was available for people to anonymously place prayer petitions.
Carl Malburg, custodian of the statue for the past 20 years and director of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue Foundation, noted that each prayer is one shared by all who pray to the Virgin Mary. â€śMany people are overwhelmed when they pray before the statue, because it is often a moment of repentance and conversion as they completely open their heart to Mary and Jesus for the first time.â€ť
According to the official information about the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, it was sculpted in 1947 by Jose Thedim, based on the description of Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, one of the three young people who saw Our Lady each month from May to October 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.
In October 13, 1947, in the presence of some 150,000 pilgrims, the statue was blessed by the Bishop of Leiria at Fatima, Portugal to be the pilgrim, the traveler.
Sent out to bring the Message of Fatima to the world, the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue has traveled the world many times, visiting more than 100 countries, including Russia and China, bringing the great message of hope, “the peace plan from heaven,” to millions of people. Many miracles and signal graces are reported wherever the statue travels including the statue shedding human tears many times.
In 1951, Pope Pius XII remarked: “In 1946, we crowned Our Lady of Fatima as Queen of the World and the next year, through Her Pilgrim Statue, She set forth as though to claim Her dominion, and the favors She performs along the way are such that we can hardly believe what we are seeing with our eyes.”
The statue was on display at Quasi-Parish of Ave Maria Oratory, Ave Maria; San Marco Parish, Marco Island; St. Raphael Parish, Lehigh Acres; St. Francis Xavier Parish, Fort Myers; St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and St. Michael Parish, Wauchula.