Hundreds join Eucharistic procession in Greektown as International Pilgrim Virgin Statue brings Our Lady's message of peace
RIVERVIEW — A statue of Our Lady of Fatima sculpted in 1947 based on the description of one of the three Fatima visionaries made a stop in the Archdiocese of Detroit over the weekend, as pilgrims from around the world prepare to travel to Portugal — where the apparitions took place in 1917 — for World Youth Day.
The world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima made a three-day stop in the Motor City, courtesy of the World Apostolate of Fatima’s Detroit Archdiocesan Division, as part of the nationwide Fatima Tour for Peace.
The statue visited the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Riverview on Friday, July 21, where custodian Larry Maginot gave a talk about the statue’s history and the importance of the message of Fatima for the world today. On Saturday, July 22, the statue was carried in procession around the Northland Family Planning abortion clinic in Westland, and on Sunday through the streets of Detroit’s Greektown district near Old St. Mary’s Church.
The statue has been touring for more than 75 years, bringing Our Lady’s intercession to a world in desperate need of healing, program director Patrick Sabat said during an interview July 20 with Teresa Tomeo on Ave Maria Radio (990-AM).
“When you see the RV rolling through the streets of Detroit, it’s bringing the message of peace to a world in need,” Sabat said. “This is our response to what is happening in the world today. St. John Paul II said it’s more urgent in our time than it was in 1917.”
The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue last stopped in Detroit in 2016 during the preparations for the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, which included the now-famous "Miracle of the Sun," during which more than 70,000 people witnessed the sun dance and sway as confirmation of Our Lady's message.
The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was designed in 1947 by sculptor José Thedim, who received his instruction from Sr. Lucia dos Santos, one of three visionaries who witnessed the apparitions in 1917. The statue was blessed by the bishop of Fatima and entrusted to the Blue Army, praying that Our Lady accompany the statue’s visits around the world. In 2014, the statue was placed under the care of the World Apostolate of Fatima’s U.S. division.
Sabat, who has served as the statue’s primary custodian since 2008, said over the years he’s witnessed powerful conversions, and even miracles, during the statue’s visits.
Once, during a visit to Chicago, a procession through the city’s South Side encountered a man outside a bar whose depression had him ready to “drink his life away,” Sabat said.
“He saw the blinking lights, heard the police sirens, and he came out thinking he had walked into another violent uprising,” Sabat said on Tomeo’s program. “His heart was moved with joy upon seeing the crowds praying for peace, with the police leading the way. He joined the procession with candles and flowers and loudspeakers praying the rosary very loudly. The next day, he went to confession.”
Just as Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917, she continues to have a profound impact on young people today, Sabat said.
“(Sr. Lucia) was barely 10 years old when she saw Our Lady. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, they’re just kids. They don’t know what they’re doing.’ That’s exactly the point. They allowed Our Lady’s graces to pour into their hearts,” Sabat told Tomeo. “They are now saints not simply because they saw Our Lady, but because they developed a tremendous love for the Eucharist, praying for sinners’ conversions.”
Sr. Lucia’s co-visionaries, St. Francisco and St. Jacinta Marto, are the youngest non-martyred saints in the history of the Church, having been canonized in 2017, and Sr. Lucia — who died in 2005 at the age of 97 — was declared "venerable" by Pope Francis last month.
With World Youth Day taking place Aug. 1-6 in Lisbon, Portugal, Sabat said it’s an opportunity for a new generation to discover the profound graces Our Lady continues to offer the entire world, especially amidst the corruption, heartbreak and discord of the world today.
“Our Lady of Fatima is not only for the Portuguese, it’s for the world. It’s not only for the younger people — it’s for the teenagers; for the 30-year-old, the 40-year-old. Sr. Lucia died when she was 97 years old,” Sabat said.
“Our Lady gave a specific request: prayer, penance, conversion. Pray the rosary every day. Sanctify your daily beliefs. I think this is what young people need to focus their energy and attention on, and I am so excited about this World Youth Day.”
Prayer and spirituality