International Pilgrim Virgin Statue Apostolate
In 1946, Fatima, Portugal hosted the first World Youth Congress. As part of the activities, they took the statue of Our Lady from the Chapel of the Apparitions in the Cova da Iria on pilgrimage to Lisbon. The procession stopped at the towns where people eagerly waited to entreat her blessings and beg for favors.
Many people asked for the statue to visit their own communities, because they wanted to experience her inspiration in their own home towns. The apostolate had begun.
Don José Alves Correia da Silva, Bishop of Leiria-Fátima, inquired with Sr. Lucia in a letter about this idea of sending the statue on tour. She responded suggesting that one of two images that had been commissioned by John Haffert, co-founder of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, be used as “a pilgrim” statue. The Bishop agreed and on October 13, 1947, blessed the new pilgrim statue before 200,000 pilgrims in Fatima. The other commissioned statue was held in reserve, destined for Russia.
A few days later, on Oct. 16, the Pilgrim Virgin Statue was crowned by Archbishop Vachon in Ottawa, Canada. After a couple months in Canada, the Statue entered the U.S. officially in December, being received in triumph in Buffalo, N.Y. on the 8th of that month, feast of the Immaculate Conception. News reports said one third of the city’s population turned out to receive the Statue.
This was the beginning of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue’s apostolate to spread the heavenly message given at Fatima. Thirty years earlier, Our Lady had entrusted three little shepherds at Fatima to tell the world of her profound sadness caused by the extreme corruption of men and spoke of a terrible punishment that would befall humanity if the world did not heed her message: “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church…. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph…”
Father Joaquim Alonso, CMF, the official documentarian of Fatima, has cited the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue as “one of the greatest of all Fatima events.” He further states, “that never in the history of the Church have charisms descended in such abundance on the people of God: miraculous cures, conversion of hearts, the movement of great masses of people coming to honor the Virgin, without precedent in the religious history of the Church.”
The message of penance, prayer and devotion to the Immaculate Heart, through the most exquisite image of Our Lady of Fatima, has spread throughout the world, changing hearts, healing souls and bringing all who pray fervently before this Statue closer to God and His Blessed Mother.