The Philippines has joined the world in celebrating the 105th anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition at Fatima in Portugal.
At the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Valenzuela City, a Mass was presided over by Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, on May 13.
The nuncio, in his homily, noted how Mary not only “observed the Word of God Jesus” but also “knowing the original Greek used for the term in the Gospel, ‘kept watch over the Word,’ ‘kept watch over the Infant Jesus.’”
“The lesson shown to us by Mary in this devotion to her as Our Lady of Fatima is that if we accept Mary’s presence, she begins to act in us and around us in the same way she acted with Jesus,” Archbishop Brown said.
He added: “Keeping us, protecting us, guiding us, giving us wisdom and counsel – Mary is like that. She is never in the front or calling attention to herself but she is a silent presence for us Christians directing us to Jesus and protecting Jesus in us and see in us what she saw in Jesus.”
In attendance were Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos, Bishop Bartolome Santos of Iba, and Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan.
Bishops Santos and Iñiguez had both served as rectors of the shrine and were priests of the Malolos diocese before becoming bishops.
The shrine was founded as the first parish in honor of Our Lady of Fatima in the country in 1961.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declared it as a national shrine in 1976 upon the erection of a larger church in Pag-asa Subdivision in the city’s Marulas village.
It is also the first national shrine in the Malolos diocese comprising the Bulacan province and the city of Valenzuela.
The shrine also celebrated the 5th anniversary of the episcopal coronation of the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Fatima, which was historically significant as one of replica images brought to the Philippines from Portugal.
It was also the exact image brought to the 1986 EDSA Revolution. In 1999, it was donated to the shrine and has been its home ever since.
In 2011, due to the cultural significance of the Fatima devotion among its citizens, the city of Valenzuela officially declared Our Lady of Fatima as its principal patroness.