Portugal Remembers Favored Pilgrim: John Paul II

Rector of Fatima Shrine Notes Many Reasons to Give Thanks

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FATIMA, Portugal, MARCH 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Pope John Paul II visited Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal three times: in 1982 (to thank her for saving him from near assassination on her feast day the year before), in 1991 and 2000.

Thus, the shrine is the ideal place for Portugal to remember the Polish Pontiff, and the Portuguese Episcopal Conference is inviting the faithful there to a thanksgiving celebration for his beatification. The celebration will be held on her feast day, May 13, less than two weeks after the May 1 beatification.

Father Virgílio Antunes, the rector of the Fatima Shrine, spoke about the Holy Father in the March 13 edition of "Voz da Fatima" (Voice of Fatima).

He observed that reading John Paul II's biography resulting from the beatification process shows a "man characterized above all by the depth of his Christian spirituality, based on an immovable faith and his constant attitude of prayer."

"Never before was a Pope so well-known and loved," wrote the rector. "In the ecclesial ambit, in the relationship with other Churches and other religions, in the social and political world, in culture, everyone ended up appreciating different aspects of this multi-faceted figure, with a moral greatness able to enter into the most varied worlds."

In regard to devotion to Our Lady, Father Antunes said that "it was one of the most profound characteristics of his way of being Christian, after the manner of Mary, to whom he gave the totality of his being, as expressed in his motto 'totus tuus.'"

"The message of Fatima acquired an ecclesial and universal dimension [through him], which passed through the person of the Pope, bishop dressed in white," the rector reflected.

He added: "The publication of the third part of the Secret of Fatima has helped to understand very much what happened in the Church in the 20th century, and has guaranteed once again the connection between the prophecy and the designs of God for our time. [...]

"The Church and the world have many reasons to thank God for the gift of John Paul II, a man faithful to his faith and totally dedicated to humanity.

"Fatima has many reasons to sing the Magnificat of gratitude for the fact that Our Lady received him as a favorite son and that she gave him to us as a brother."