October 13 – the centenary of the final Fatima apparition in 1917 and the Miracle of the Sun – will mark a second highpoint to the anniversary celebrations, the first of which was the canonisation of Jacinta and Francisco on May 13 in Fatima itself.

The world over there are special times of prayer planned, veneration of the Fatima statue, processions in the streets, and acts of consecration. Dioceses all over Britain have been making acts of consecration to the Immaculate Heart, beginning with Cardinal Vincent Nichols re-consecrating England and Wales – first done in 1948 – to the Immaculate Heart before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima as Westminster Cathedral.

The bishops of Canada collectively re-consecrated their country to the Immaculate Heart – first done in 1947 – at the end of September. And throughout the year, each bishop has consecrated his own diocese to the Immaculate Heart, and in many dioceses – such as my own – each pastor was asked to do so for his parish.

It would be impossible to measure, but given the increasing popularity of Marian consecration among the lay faithful in recent years – often following the 33-day period of preparation of St Louis de Montfort – the number of individual and family (re-) consecrations would be counted in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, worldwide.

The Fatima centenary has highlighted that consecration to the Heart of Mary is a dominant aspect of Catholic piety, perhaps second only to devotion to the Divine Mercy, in our time. It has been led by the supreme pontiffs and embraced by the lay faithful.

Fatima and the request of Our Lady for consecration to her heart was first promoted by Venerable Pius XII, who was providentially ordained a bishop in the Sistine Chapel on the very day of the first apparition, May 13, 1917, and was buried in the crypt of St Peter’s basilica on October 13, 1958.

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