By Christina Hermoso
Marian devotees from across the world celebrate tomorrow 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.
In the country, a concelebrated high mass will be celebrated at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Marulas, Valenzuela, Metro Manila at 6 p.m. It will be followed by a candlelight procession.
Masses will also be held at 6 a.m. and at 9 a.m.
Last year, devotees marked the centennial of the Fatima apparitions. The 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 as the most important series of Marian apparitions in the Catholic Church, the Blessed Mother appeared on the same day 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 response, 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.