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Wednesday, February 16, 2005


VATICAN CITY, FEB 16, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Jaime Vieira Rocha of Caico, Brazil, as bishop of Campina Grande (area 20,051, population 830,118, Catholics 720,000, priests 55, permanent deacons 2, religious 173), Brazil.

- Fr. Edson de Castro Homem, pastor of the parishes of "Nossa Senhora da Luz," "Nossa Senhora de Fatima" and "Sao Lourenco", as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro (area 1,261, population 5,857,904, Catholics 4,059,527, priests 582, permanent deacons 34, religious 1,575), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1977.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 16, 2005 (VIS) - On Thursday, February 24 at 11 a.m. in the Clementine Hall, there will be a Public Ordinary Consistory for the canonization of the following Blesseds: Jozef Bilczewski, bishop; Gaetano Catanoso, priest, founder of the Congregation of the Veronica Sisters of the Holy Face; Zygmunt Gorazdowski, priest, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph; Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, priest of the Society of Jesus; Felice Da Nicosia (Filippo Giacomo Armoroso), religious of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 16, 2005 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was a Message from the Holy Father to Bishop Albino Mamede Cleto of Coimbra, Portugal, which was read out at the funeral of Sister Lucia who died in that city on Sunday at the age of 97. Sister Lucia was the last survivor of the three children who saw the Virgin Mary in an apparition at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.

  Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, presided at the funeral Mass as the Pope's special envoy.

  "For Lucia," the Pope writes in his Message, "the visit by the Virgin to her and to her cousins Francesco and Jacinta, at Fatima in 1917, was the beginning of a special mission to which she remained faithful to the end of her days. Sister Lucia leaves us an example of great faithfulness to the Lord, and of joyous obedience to His divine will."

  The Holy Father recalls with emotion his various meetings with the religious and "the ties of spiritual friendship which strengthened over time. I felt myself supported by the daily gift of her prayers, especially during difficult moments of trial and suffering. May the Lord give her ample reward for the great and hidden service she offered the Church.

  "I like to think that Sister Lucia, in her transit from earth to heaven, was welcomed by the One whom she saw at Fatima so many years ago. May the Most Holy Virgin now accompany the soul of this devoted daughter to the beatific encounter with the divine Bridegroom."

  On the eve of her death, the Holy Father had sent a fax to Sister Lucia in which he expressed his closeness and gave assurances of his prayers that she might "experience this moment of pain, suffering and sacrifice with the Paschal spirit" of death and resurrection.

  John Paul II met Sister Lucia, a Carmelite nun, on three occasions: on May 13 in the years 1982, 1991 and 2000. The first encounter took place exactly a year after the attempt on the Pope's life in St Peter's Square in which he almost died. On that occasion, the Pope went to Fatima to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for saving him, and ordered that, as a sign of gratitude, the bullet found in his jeep after the assassination attempt be set in the crown of the image of the Virgin of Fatima.

  The second meeting, in 1991, took place on the tenth anniversary of the assassination attempt. The last occasion on which the Pope and Sister Lucia met personally was on May 13, 2000, when the Holy Father beatified her cousins, the shepherd children Francisco and Jacinta, and Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano read a message concerning the third secret of Fatima.

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