The Church has confirmed that in 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima, Portugal, and revealed her divine wishes and promises to three local shepherd children. Among other messages, Mary announced, “God wishes to establish devotion in the word to my Immaculate Heart.” Many Americans are paying renewed attention to these instructions, as a number of dioceses throughout the nation are being consecrated to the Blessed Mother.
After the original apparitions, one of the Fatima children, Sister Lucia gave instructions to have an image of Mary created. Ever since 2003, that picture has been touring the US with the World Apostolate of Fatima. In 2017 its Fatima Tour for Peace traveled the 50 states, greatly increasing the image’s popularity. This event inspired many Catholics, particularly in the laity, to spring into action in support of a unifying Marian devotion.
The passion of Catholics in the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, led to the diocese being consecrated to Mary on the one-hundredth anniversary of her first appearance at Fatima, on May 13, 2017. Bishop James Johnston explained, “We are uniting our hearts to her Immaculate Heart, the one heart that is perfectly united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
Communities in Providence, RI, San Francisco and Santa Rosa, CA, Philadelphia, PA, and many more around the country followed their lead; Donald Cardinal Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, consecrated the entire United States to Mary on October 13, 2017, the centennial of Mary’s last appearance at Fatima. Expanding upon Bishop Johnston’s statements, members of these other consecrated dioceses made sure to stress the importance of renewing this devotion daily. Outside of the US, many other nations have been consecrated to Mary, including England, Poland, Canada, and Scotland.
American Catholics have also bought Marian devotional books in large numbers. Fr. Michael Gaitley of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (MIC) created a path towards consecration by authoring the preparation book 33 Days to Morning Glory, praised for its simplicity and accessibility. Recounting his own struggle with the longer versions of the consecration process, Fr. Gaitley shares that his shorter reflections can be “a less daunting experience of spiritual reading and prayerful pondering.” Released in 2012, the book sold at least 250,000 copies in its first year of publication.
For many Catholics, Marian Consecration affirms the commitment of the faithful in a time of turmoil in the Church, and delivers a ray of hope into the lives of those searching for peace. The renewed interest bears a resemblance to the Marian devotion of Pope John Paul II, who frequently encouraged belief in the Fatima promises during his reign from 1978 to 2005.