Vatican City, 11 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning, a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the key event of the Year of Faith, the Marian Day, which is scheduled to take place in Rome on 12 and 13 October. The speakers at the conference were Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Bishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arena, and Msgr. Graham Bell, respectively president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation.
In his address, Archbishop Fisichella, stated that at the beginning of the Year of Faith it was decided that it would be fundamental to retrace the history of our faith, and for this reason Benedict XVI placed in the foreground the figure of Mary, who represents for believers the first response of complete and total faith, in which we fully abandon ourselves to God. Therefore, on Saturday 12 October the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima will arrive in Rome, and will return to Fatima on Sunday evening. The archbishop emphasised the importance of this event, recalling that “the statue never leaves the shrine, except in the case of entirely exceptional and extraordinary events. The last time was during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 when, on 13 May, Blessed John Paul II carried out the act of consecration to the Virgin. … The date of 13 October has been chosen as it recalls the final appearance of the Virgin to the three shepherd children in 1917”.
As is traditional in these events, on Saturday morning there will be a pilgrimage to the Tomb of Peter and in the afternoon, Pope Francis' catechesis. In the afternoon St. Peter's Square will open to pilgrims at 2.30 p.m. At 3 p.m. there will be a moment of reflection, and at 4 p.m. the procession of the Virgin around the square will begin. In accordance with tradition, pilgrims are asked to wave with white handkerchiefs as the statue of the Virgin of Fatima passes. At 5 p.m. the Holy Father will greet the statue of the Virgin in front of the Basilica. Following a moment of prayer in St. Peter's Square, the statue will be transported to the Santuario del Divino Amore, where an all-night prayer vigil will take place. On Sunday morning, the Virgin will return to the Vatican where the procession across St. Peter's Square will be repeated at 9.30 a.m., followed by Holy Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. Finally, the Pope will carry out the act of consecration to the Virgin and will pray the Angelus with the pilgrims present.
It is expected that over 150,000 pilgrims from all over the world will participate, with international representations from 48 countries.