By Christina Hermoso
High masses will be celebrated at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Marulas, Valenzuela, Metro Manila Monday, in celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, marking the first of the six apparitions of the Blessed Mother to three shepherd children – Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto – at the Cova de Ira in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.
Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iniguez will celebrate the mass at 6 a.m. Bishop Bartolome Santos, Jr. will lead the mass at 9 a.m., while Monsignor Manuel Villaroman will preside over the mass at 6:30 p.m. The evening mass will be followed by a solemn candlelight procession.
Devotees marked the centennial of the Fatima apparitions in 2017. The special event coincided with the canonization of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta by Pope Francis in Fatima, Portugal. Francisco and Jacinta both succumbed to the flu epidemic. Francisco died on April 4, 1919 at the age of ten while Jacinta died at the age of nine on February 20, 1920. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000.
Considered the most important series of Marian apparitions in the Roman Catholic Church, the Blessed Mother appeared on the 13th day of each month for six consecutive months from May 13 to Oct. 13, 1917. On her first apparition, she requested the children to pray the Holy Rosary, perform works of mortification for the conversion of sinners, and requested for devotion to herself under the title Immaculate Conception.
In recognition of the apparitions, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to Mary under the title of Immaculate Conception. The series of apparitions were declared as worthy of belief by the Holy See in October 1930.