The beautiful statue of Our Lady of Fatima whose photo appears throughout our website is the International Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima. This statue is not only exceptionally expressive but has an exceptional history.
In 1947, the Bishop of Leria-Fatima wished to make the apparitions better known, so he formulated a plan for a travelling ‘pilgrim’ statue of Our Lady of Fatima. It happened that about this time he was approached by an American, Mr John Haffert, one of the founders of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima (today the World Apostolate of Fatima) who was eager to help the bishop’s project by raising funds.
The bishop asked sculptor Jose Thedim – one of Portugal’s best – to carve two statues of Our Lady of Fatima from wood. Sister Lucia was asked to advise the sculptor so that the statues would resemble as closely as possible Our Lady as she appeared at Fatima.
When the artist was finished his work, four beautiful statues were ready. It was decided that one of these statues would travel continually in the East behind the Iron Curtain. A second one would do the same in the West. The third would remain in Fatima. The fourth would be sent to Rome.
John Haffert took charge of the western one, and this is the one we know today as the International Pilgrim Virgin. When she arrived in the United States for the first time, on 8 December 1947, over 200,000 people assembled on the US-Canada border to receive her.
The International Pilgrim Virgin has travelled around the world continually for the last seventy years. The number of graces obtained by multitudes of people who have honoured her is beyond count. Clearly, this statue has been chosen by Our Lady to be an instrument to touch hearts all over the world.
In the city of New Orleans, in 1972, the statue wept tears fifteen times. The event was widely reported in the media. Samples of the liquid dripping from her eyes were tested scientifically and found to have the chemical composition of human tears.
When the International Pilgrim Virgin statue was made, Sister Lucia remarked that of all the statues of Our Lady she had seen, this one had the greatest likeness to the ‘lady’ she spoke with at the Cova da Iria. Nonetheless, she said it falls far short of reality, because it is impossible to make a statue that comes anywhere near to the beauty of Our Lady herself.
The statue is now the property of the Pilgrim Virgin Committee, based in Munster, Indiana, USA. She continues to travel today under the care of her custodian, Mr Carl Malburg. The Pilgrim Virgin Committee is willing to bring her to any diocese in the world. If you are interested in bringing her to your diocese please contact Mrs Rose Marie Malburg at firstname.lastname@example.org