By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
Marian hymns, red and white roses, rosaries and families filled the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville May 13, a day before Mother’s Day, to mark the centennial of the Blessed Mother’s first appearance to three children in Fatima, Portugal.
Pope Francis canonized two of those children, siblings who died in childhood — Sts. Jacinta and Francisco — in Fatima May 13. They are now the church’s youngest non-martyred saints. Their cousin, Lucia Dos Santos, who died at age 97 in 2005, is under study by the Vatican for canonization.
The pope celebrated the centennial in Fatima with events May 12 and 13, giving several homilies and talks on the Blessed Mother and the “heroic virtue” of the children.
The local celebration of Our Lady of Fatima at the Cathedral of the Assumption began with a procession of a Marian statue, the rosary — which was prayed in several languages — and a Mass that included a special coronation of the statue — with a wreath of flowers — by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz.
Father Matthew Hardesty, director of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Marian Committee, gave the homily, discussing the “three secrets” revealed to the children in Fatima.
Calling them prophetic and apocalyptic, Father Hardesty said the three secrets of Fatima include a description of hell; a prophecy of World War II and an urging that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and finally, a prophecy of suffering and persecution of the pope and the church.
Father Hardesty pointed out that Our Lady’s message was meant, ultimately, to lead the world back to Jesus. He urged his listeners today to let Mary lead them to Jesus, too, “uniting ourselves to the Blessed Mother so she can continue bringing us to her son.”
He suggested several ways people can begin, recommending the rosary; first Saturday “Communions of reparation;” reconciliation and a penitential lifestyle.