Fatima Statue Due at Vatican to Mark a Fateful Day

25 Years After Attempt on John Paul II's Life

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A statue of Our Lady of Fatima will return to the Vatican this Saturday, 25 years after the attempt on Pope John Paul II's life.

The statue will gather some 20,000 pilgrims, part of a program organized by the Roman Work of Pilgrimages, an institution of the Vicariate of Rome, an entity of the Holy See. It will mark the second such Pilgrims' Day.

The event will recall the "indissoluble bond" between "Pope Karol Wojtyla and the Virgin Mary," explained the Roman Work of Pilgrimages in a communiqué sent to ZENIT. "John Paul II said: 'One hand pulled the trigger; another hand deflected the bullet.'"

It added: "It is extraordinary that John Paul II wished to give one of the bullets fired by Ali Agca to the Virgin of Fatima and that that bullet would be perfectly set in the Virgin's crown, as if it had been designed for it."

The statue of Our Lady will arrive by helicopter on Saturday afternoon at Castel Sant'Angelo.

From there, pilgrims led by Cardinal Ivan Dias of Bombay will receive the statue and carry it in procession on the Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Basilica.

On crossing St. Peter's Square, the procession will pause at the spot where John Paul II shed his blood as he fell, victim of the assassination attempt.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Roman Work of Pilgrimages and the Pope's vicar for Rome, will then preside over Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Afterward, a celebration complete with fireworks will take place in St. Peter's Square in honor of John Paul II.