Quarter-mile long Fatima rosary procession graces St. Paul

| October 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

A statue of Mary makes its way along John Ireland Boulevard during the Candlelight Rosary Procession in St. Paul Oct. 13. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

A sea of people carrying candles and praying filled half of John Ireland Boulevard between the State Capitol and the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul Oct. 13.

The procession followed a Mass and special prayers at the Cathedral of St. Paul attended by more than 4,000 people from around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, filling the Cathedral to standing room only for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.

Paula Galavza, right, of St. Bernard in St. Paul joins in the Candlelight Rosary Procession Oct. 13. At left is Lea Martinez of Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

“I was just surprised and delighted,” said Amy Cummings, a parishioner of All Saints in Lakeville, about the turnout. “I think it was just blessings and graces coming down upon people to come out.”

Oct. 13 marked the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, which reportedly occurred during the final Marian apparition in Fatima. In 1917, the sun “danced” in the sky as a culmination of the monthly apparitions by the Blessed Virgin Mary to three children near Fatima, Portugal, that began May 13 that year.

“We celebrate today that fact that Mary so much desires to bring our world into communion with her son — that she would break into human history. That’s what happened in that little town of Fatima 100 years ago,” Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in his homily at the Mass that preceded the rosary procession.

Devotion to Mary under the title Our Lady of Fatima and her message has grown among the faithful over the past century. That’s included rosary processions such as the ones hosted in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in May and October each year. However, neither annual procession has seen the volume of people who came out for the Oct. 13 event this year.

“It was a great experience being with so many souls in the archdiocese gathered together as one,” said Randy Lehnen, a parishioner of St. Joseph in West St. Paul, who brought his family, including his four children.

“To me, the biggest thing was conversion,” Lehnen said about Our Lady of Fatima’s message. “I think that was the greatest fruit.”

Archbishop Hebda reconsecrated the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which corresponded to Our Lady of Fatima’s request for the pope to consecrate Russia and the world to her. The archbishop led the consercation prayer at the Mass before the procession and again at the end of the procession.

The consecration prayer included a resolve to live out baptismal vows, renounce Satan and “follow Jesus Christ more closely than before.” The prayer also led a person to entrust him or herself to Mary’s intercession.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda stands in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the conclusion of the Candlelight Rosary Procession Oct. 13, which ended at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

People also could make a personal consecration to Mary during prayers led by the archbishop. The archdiocesan Office of Evangelization promoted the personal consecration using the book “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Father Michael Gaitley in preparation.

In his homily at Mass, Archbishop Hebda reminded the people that Mary brings people closer to Jesus, beginning with Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, when St. John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, according to the Gospel of Luke.

“Throughout all of the centuries, Mary has manifested both that unity with Jesus and that desire to bring Jesus to others,” Archbishop Hebda said.

Following Mass, people gathered at the State Capitol grounds for the procession down John Ireland Boulevard to the Cathedral. People carried candles while singing the hymn “Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above” followed by praying three mysteries of the rosary.

In the procession, the Knights of Columbus carried a large statue of Our Lady of Fatima on a platform covered with red and white roses. Archbishop Hebda, clergy and seminarians also processed.
The World Apostolate of Fatima USA co-hosted the event with the archdiocese.
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