Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, is traveling to Fatima, Portugal ahead of Pope Francis’ own visit, which will take place next year for the 100-year anniversary of Mary’s appearance there.
Cardinal Parolin’s Oct. 11-13 visit occurs seven months before the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, the anniversary of her first appearance.
Pope Francis confirmed during an in-flight press conference returning from his trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan earlier this month that he would travel to Fatima on May 13, 2017, but that he did not know whether or not he would go a day earlier on May 12 for the vigil celebration.
Cardinal Parolin’s itinerary for the trip included a stop in Lisbon, where he gave a talk on “The Identity of Europe” at a conference at the Catholic University of Portugal, which will mark the 50th anniversary of its founding in 2017.
He also visited several churches and had dinner with Cardinal Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Lisbon.
At Fatima, Cardinal Parolin will participate in an Oct. 12 blessing of the candles and praying the holy rosary at the Little Chapel of Apparitions before processing to the altar to celebrate a candlelit Mass in front of the Basilica of the Holy Rosary.
On Oct. 13, there will again be a procession to the Basilica with Mass and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It is likely that the Pope’s visit will look similar to Cardinal Parolin’s, although Francis said Oct. 2 he would go to Fatima only.
Three years ago on Oct. 13, 2013, Pope Francis received the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which usually resides in the Little Chapel of Apparitions. He invited those present at Mass in St. Peter’s Square to meditate on the gaze of Mary.
“O Mary, let us feel your gaze as a Mother,” he said. “Lead us to your Son, as we are not Christians ‘for show,’ but who can ‘get their hands dirty’ to build with your Son, Jesus, his Kingdom of love, joy and peace.”
“How important it is,” the Pope said of Mary’s gaze. “How many things can be said with a look! Affection, encouragement, compassion, love, but also reproach, envy, pride, even hatred.”
“Often,” he added, “the look says more than words, or says what words cannot or dare not say. Who looks at the Virgin Mary? She looks at all of us, each of us…She looks at us like a Mother, with tenderness, with mercy, with love.”
On May 13, 2013, at the Holy Father’s personal request, his pontificate was consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima by Cardinal Jose Polycarp, the then-Patriarch of Lisbon. The consecration took place at the Portuguese shrine dedicated to Our Lady, with thousands of the faithful present.
Addressing Our Lady of Fatima during the ceremony, Cardinal Polycarp asked that Pope Francis be granted the gift of discernment “to know how to identify the paths of renewal for the Church.”
He also prayed that she would “grant him the courage to not falter in following the paths suggested by the Holy Spirit, protect him in the difficult hours of suffering, so that he may overcome, in charity, the trials that the renewal of the Church will bring him.”