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FATIMA, Portugal, March 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – On the feast of the Annunciation, which Catholics celebrated Wednesday, 24 countries were consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The consecration was initiated by the bishops of Portugal in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Apart from Portugal, the 23 other countries consecrated were Albania, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Slovakia, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Mexico, Moldova, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Kenya, the Dominican Republic, Romania, Spain, Tanzania, East Timor, and Zimbabwe.
In the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima, Portugal, Cardinal António Marto, the local bishop of Leiria-Fatima, recited the prayer of consecration.
“Heart of Jesus Christ, healer of souls and Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, through the Heart of Your Mother, to whom the pilgrim Church on earth is given, in Portugal and Spain, nations which have been Hers for centuries, and in so many other countries, accept the consecration of Your Church,” the cardinal prayed.
“By consecrating ourselves to Your Sacred Heart the Church is entrusted to the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, configured to the light of Your Paschal Mystery and revealed here to the three children as the refuge and way leading to Your Heart,” Marto continued.
He asked that Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima might be “the Health of the Sick and the Refuge of Your disciples born at the foot of the Cross of Your love.”
During the consecration, Marto asked God to grant a number of favors.
“Watch over Your Church, inspire the leaders of the nations, listen to the poor and the afflicted, exalt the humble and the oppressed, heal the sick and the sinners, raise up those who are bowed down and disheartened, release captives and prisoners and deliver us from the pandemic which besets us,” he began.
The cardinal continued, “Sustain the children, the elderly and the most vulnerable, comfort the physicians, nurses, healthcare professionals and voluntary caregivers, strengthen families and reinforce us in fellowship and solidarity, be the light of the dying, receive the deceased in Your kingdom, turn away all evil from us and deliver us from the pandemic which besets us.”
Finally, he asked God to “receive those who have died, encourage those who consecrate themselves to You, and renew the universe and all mankind.”
The consecration ceremony, watched live by tens of thousands of faithful, also included the rosary, prayed in Portuguese, Spanish, English, and Polish.
At first, only the Portuguese bishops had announced their intention to consecrate their country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Soon after, the Spanish bishops asked to take part in this consecration. Earlier this week, the bishops of Portugal began accepting requests from other bishops’ conferences.
At Fatima, Our Lady appeared several times to three children in 1917. Two of those children died in the following years after contracting the Spanish flu, a pandemic that led to at least 25 million deaths within a few years.
Both children, the siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, were canonized by Pope Francis when he visited Fatima in 2017.
One of the messages of Our Lady to the three children of Fatima was, “Pray the rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.”
As Catholics in many parts of the world are unable to go to Mass, they once again turn to the rosary. As Sister Lucia, the Fatima child who became a nun and lived until 2005, explained, the rosary is “something everybody can do, rich and poor, wise and ignorant, great and small.”