Holy icon to visit St. Mary’s

International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima in town March 19

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A traveling statue of the Virgin Mary dedicated to a message of world peace will be at St. Mary’s Church for a special visit March 19. The statue is traveling during the month of March in the Springfield diocese.

“It will be right at the base of the altar,” said Pat Catanzariti, office administrator at the church.

The public can visit the statue anytime after 8 a.m. that day.

“We will have adoration so the church will be open for 24 hours,” Catanzariti said.

She added details for special activities to accompany the visit are still being finalized but some events are confirmed.

“The rosary will be prayed throughout the day to her as well as offering devotionals,” said Catanzariti.

Sculpted in 1947 after the carnage of World War II, the original International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima commemorates the multiple monthly appearances of angels and Mary in 1917 to three children in Fatima, Portugal. Sculpted by Jose Thedim, the statue is based on the description of Sister Lucia, one of the three young visionaries who reported seeing a luminous lady each month from May to October 1917. On May 13, 1947, in the presence of some 150,000 pilgrims, the statue was blessed by the Bishop of Leiria at Fatima to be the pilgrim, the traveler.

Part of the message delivered to the faithful and children is that belief in her message was a forerunner to the conversion of souls and world peace. Several incarnations of the statue travel constantly around the world spreading a message of hope, peace and salvation.

Information supplied by those who are part of the statue’s tour claims favors, graces and conversions are associated with the image. In addition, some believe they have witnessed the icon shed tears.

The statue coming to Paris is in the care of the World Apostolate of Fatima and travels under the care of the Blue Army. The mission of the group is to help people learn, live and spread the message of Our Lady of Fatima in communion with the Church.

Catanzariti said the Blue Army members are volunteers responsible for taking the statue to different churches.

“It’s a devotion to our Blessed Mother,” she said.

This is the second time the statue has visited St. Mary’s. Catanzariti was unsure of the date of the first visit, although she thought it was within the last eight to 10 years.

It is her understanding the stop in Paris is part of a route to a visit at the cathedral in Springfield.

“They chose Paris because there was such a good reception here the last time,” she said. “St. Mary’s is kind of a central location for the churches around here so the hope is people will come here and also Springfield.”