On Saturday, August 26, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was blessed to receive a unique “visitor”: the miraculous Pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Fatima that has continually traveled the world since its creation over 75 years ago.
The Statue's Origin
Under the guidance of Fatima visionary Sr. Lucia dos Santos, recently declared Venerable, José Thedim, “the Michelangelo of Portugal,” sculpted the first statues of Our Lady as she appeared, not only the first image for the shrine at Fatima but two “Pilgrim Virgin” figures. “The first one went throughout Europe after World War II and then this one was intended to travel around North America,” explains Barb Ernster, National Coordinator for the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA. “The statue was blessed by Pope Pius XII and sent out on this mission to spread the message of Fatima. He prayed that Our Lady’s presence would travel wherever the statue went, and many people do feel her presence, especially when they look up into her eyes.”
Indeed, the Holy Father’s prayer has been answered dramatically, as the mission of Mary’s statue has expanded far beyond the original vision for North America: “The first [Pilgrim Virgin statue] was retired at the Shrine of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima in the 1980s,” Ernster explains. “But this one has gone on to over 100 countries.” Highlights of the Pilgrim Virgin’s journey include a procession into Moscow’s Red Square in 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. There Our Lady’s statue was crowned in front of Lenin’s tomb, demonstrating the triumph of “she who crushes the serpent.”
Tears of Sorrow
Another prominent incident in these travels came in New Orleans, in 1972, when many people, including reporters and the archbishop, witnessed tears running from the Pilgrim Virgin’s glass eyes. Instances of the statue weeping have often been reported, but in this case the phenomenon was widely observed. Of the cause of Our Lady’s sorrow, Ernster says, “we can only speculate as to why”; one plausible speculation is that “at the time the Supreme Court was deciding on the case Roe v. Wade.”
Coming to the Shrine!
Naturally, the arrival of the Pilgrim Virgin is a joyous occasion for the Shrine community. The day begins at 10:30, with a procession bearing her image through the Shrine grounds; events also include adoration, the Rosary, and talks on Our Lady’s message at Fatima. In the words of Director of Pilgrim Services Steven Doll, “It’ll be a full day of devotion to Our Lady, especially under her title Our Lady of Fatima and her Immaculate Heart. Both are important devotions for us today.”
The Pilgrim Virgin statue is a visible sign for all of Our Lady’s closeness to and maternal care for her children, one that she has affirmed through graces and miracles. On August 26, the Shrine joyfully invites all to assist in giving thanks for our Mother’s love and gifts, pondering her words, and entrusting to her our prayers for ourselves and for the world.
8:00 a.m. - Shrine Opens
10:30 a.m. - Uphill Procession with the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue
11:45 a.m. - Confessions available
12:15 p.m. - Holy Mass (O.F. Ad Orientem) with International Pilgrim
Virgin Statue. Homeschool Blessing following Mass.
1:30 p.m. - Picnic Lunch, Outdoor Games, and Grilling Fundraiser: Burgers, Brats, Hotdogs, Baked Goods, and Drinks Will Be Sold by the Troops of Saint George. Pre-orders requested to Captain Bill Coppernoll: firstname.lastname@example.org
2:30 p.m - Talk - Barb Ernster: Understanding the Spread of Russia’s Errors
3:00 p.m. - Talk - Larry Maginot: Bringing the Devotion to the Immaculate
Heart in Your Home
5:00 p.m. - Shrine Closes