THE TRUE STORY
“The Lady in the Light”
by the Rev Father John De Marchi, IMC, 1952.
Re-published by Patrimonium Publishing, 2016.
MAY 13, 1946: OFFICIAL CROWNING OF THE OUR LADY OF FATIMA STATUE
Rome had recognised and blessed the apparitions to the shepherd children of Aljustrel. Henceforth Fatima was to spread throughout the world.
Some four years passed and the World War came to an end. Portugal, which had been visibly protected by the Blessed Virgin, and saved almost miraculously from the horrors which almost every other European nation suffered, sought to give public expression to the generally felt gratitude.
The women of Portugal contributed precious stones from among their jewels to make a crown for the statue which had been venerated in the Chapel of the Apparitions since the beginning.
Knowing that Pope Pius XII had followed with the greatest interest and approval the resurgence of religion in Portugal – a resurgence so obviously connected with the apparitions of Fatima – the episcopate decided to ask the Holy Father to send a legate to the solemn coronation ceremony.
On May 10, 1946, Cardinal Benedetto Aloisi Masella arrived and was received with all the honour due to a pontifical legate. His first words were broadcast throughout the country:
The Holy Father Pius XII, gloriously reigning, loves this country and is deeply interested in its affairs. He sends me to you, beloved Portuguese children, with the most worthy mission of crowning Our Lady of Fatima, our Mother and our Queen.
It is a pontifical legate who has come to tell you that the Holy Father unites with you in the impressive homage which you will pay to the Blessed Virgin during these days.
The ceremony, which will take place next Monday, will certainly draw down upon your beloved country the choicest blessings of God.
It is for me an immense satisfaction to see the affection and regard with which you have received the legate of the Supreme Pontiff. I will, as is my duty, make known to His Holiness, the noble sentiments with which you have received me accompanied by such a great manifestation. I am sure that the Holy Father will feel the deepest satisfaction.
At this moment I would like to express my most sincere and profound gratitude to His Excellency the President of the Republic, present in his representative, to His Eminence the cardinal patriarch, to the bishops here present, the ministers of state, the civil and military authorities, and to all of you, together with my warmest wishes for the prosperity of your beloved country.
On the 13th of May about 800,000 people awaited the Cardinal in the Cova da Iria. He arrived in company with many bishops and other eminent persons.
We find it impossible adequately to describe what we can justly call the most memorable day in the history of Christianity in Portugal. Fatima was not only the altar of Portugal, it was the altar of the world.
The words of the pope were broadcast to the pilgrims of Fatima and the Portuguese, at home and overseas, directly after the coronation ceremony:
“Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons and Daughters: Blessed be the Lord God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our tribulation. Blessed also, she whom He appointed Mother of Mercy, our Queen and our beloved Advocate, Mediatrix of all graces, and dispenser of all His treasures.
“When, four years ago, amid the turmoil of the most deadly war history has yet seen, we ascended this holy mountain in spirit with you for the first time, to join our thanks with yours for the immense benefits accorded you by Our Lady of Fatima, it was a magnificent occasion to mingle our prayers of filial confidence to the Immaculate Queen and Protector of Portugal, and pray that she would complete that which she had so marvellously begun.
“Your presence today in this sanctuary, in such immense numbers that they can hardly be calculated, is an affirmation that the Immaculate Virgin Queen, whose maternal and compassionate heart conceived the prodigy of Fatima, has superabundantly heard your prayers.
“Ardent grateful love has brought you here and, wishing to present her with a concrete expression of it, you symbolised and condensed the same into a precious crown – fruit of so much generosity and sacrifice – which by the hand of our cardinal legate we have just placed upon the head of the miraculous statue. It is a symbol to attest your love and gratitude to your Heavenly Queen, and brings to your minds the love and benefits without number which the Virgin Mother has accorded to her Terra de Santa Maria. Eight are the centuries of benefits. The first five under the emblems of Santa Maria de Alcobaca. Santa Maria da Vitoria and Santa Maria de Belem, in the epic struggles for nationhood against the Crescent, and in the discovery of new islands and continents where your great men planted the cross of Christ side by side with the national flag. The last three centuries came under the special protection of the Immaculate One whom the monarch of the restoration, united in assembly with the whole nation, acclaimed patron of his realms and possessions, offering her his crown as an especial tribute of vassalage, with an oath to defend even to the death the privilege of her Immaculate Conception. He trusted, according to his own words, with great confidence in the infinite mercy of our Lord, and through our Lady, Patron and Protectress of our realms and possessions, of whom by our honour we confess ourselves to be vassals and servants, may we be defended and guarded from our enemies, with great increase of these realms to the glory of Christ our God, and to the exaltation of our Holy Catholic Roman Faith, the conversion of the heathen and the downfall of heretics.
“The Virgin most Faithful did not betray the trust which had been placed in her. It is enough to reflect on these last decades, on the crises surmounted and the benefits received. Enough to lift up the eyes and see the Cova da Iria transformed into a fountain flowing with supernatural grace; to see the physical prodigies and the even greater moral miracles, the torrents which flow from here over all Portugal and then, bursting all frontiers, spread to the whole Church and the world. How is it possible not to give thanks – or, rather, how is it possible to give thanks worthily?
“Three hundred years ago, the monarch of the restoration laid his royal crown at the feet of the Immaculate Virgin, proclaiming her Queen and Patron. Today it is all of you who act, the people of the Terra de Santa Maria, together with the shepherds of your souls and with your government.
“To the ardent prayers, to the generous sacrifices, to the Eucharistic solemnities, to the thousand acts of homage which your filial love has suggested to you, you have added the precious crown, and with it have girded the brow of Our Lady of Fatima, here in this blessed oasis impregnated with the supernatural, where in a concrete manner you experience her marvellous protection, and where you all feel nearer her Immaculate Heart filled with immense tenderness and maternal solicitude for you and for the world. Most precious crown, symbol of love and gratitude!
“This great concourse, the fervour of your prayers, the thunder of your acclamations, the holy enthusiasm which vibrates in your hearts; and, finally, the sacred rite which in this moment of incomparable triumph has just been performed, call to our mind another multitude innumerable, other cries of homage yet more ardent, another solemn and eternal hour, the endless day of eternity when the glorious Virgin, triumphantly entering the heavenly homeland, through the nine choirs of angels, was raised even to the throne of the most Holy Trinity, who placed upon her brow the triple diadem of glory. There she was presented to the court of heaven, seated at the right hand of the Immortal King of Ages and crowned Queen of the Universe.
“And the King saw that she was truly worthy of such honour, glory and empire, because she was more filled with grace, more holy, more beautiful, nearer to the divine, incomparably more so, than the greatest saints and sublimest angels, separately or together. This because she is mysteriously related in the order of the hypostatic union with the Blessed Trinity, with Him who is in essence the Infinite Majesty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She is the first-born Daughter of the Father and pure Mother of the Word, beloved Bride of the Holy Ghost, because Mother of the Divine King, of Him to whom from her maternal womb the Lord God gave the throne of David and everlasting Kingship in the House of Jacob. He alone proclaimed to have received all power in heaven and earth, He the Son of God, decrees for His Mother all the glory, power and majesty of His Kingdom.
“Because she is associated as Mother and Helper of the King of Martyrs in the ineffable work of human redemption, she is also, forever, most powerfully associated in the distribution of grace and divine redemption. Jesus is King of the eternal ages by nature and by conquest. By Him, with Him, and under Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by her divine relationship, by conquest and by singular election. And her kingdom is vast, vast as that of her divine Son, because from her dominion none is excluded. So the Church salutes her as Lady and Queen of Apostles and Martyrs, of Confessors and Virgins, acclaims her Queen of Heaven and earth, most glorious and worthy Queen of the Universe – ‘Regina Caelorum’: most worthy Queen of the world – ‘Regina mundi’: the light shining amid the tears of this exile. ‘Hail, Holy Queen! Mother of Mercy, Hail! Our life, our sweetness and our hope.’ It is precisely this royalty that you have known not only in the more obvious benefits, but also in the innumerable blessings of that maternal heart which you praise and proclaim today.
“The most terrible war which the world has seen, threatened for four long years to cross your frontiers, but thanks to our Lady in her throne and heavenly watchtower, here in the center of your country, you were protected; the war was not allowed to touch you except in such ways as might the better cause you to realise the calamities from which you were preserved.
“You have crowned her Queen of Peace and of the world, which may thus be helped to find peace and to rise again from the ruins. And so this crown, symbol of love and gratitude for the past, as of faith and loyalty for the present, becomes also a message of hope for the future.
“By crowning the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, you signed, as it were, a document of faith in her supremacy, a loyal submission to her authority, a filial and constant correspondence to her love. You did yet more; you enlisted as crusaders in the conquest and re-conquest of her kingdom which is the Kingdom of God; that is to say, you bound yourselves before heaven and earth to love her, to venerate her, to serve her, to imitate her in order that you might better serve the Divine King; and, at the same time, you bound yourselves to labor that she might be loved and venerated and served all around you, in the family, in society, in the world.
“In this decisive hour of history in which the kingdom of evil employs all its forces with devilish cruelty to destroy faith and morals and the Kingdom of God, the children of Light and children of God must employ every means, and unite wholeheartedly to defend them, that they may not be lost in a ruin incomparably greater and more disastrous than all the material ruin caused by the war.
“In this struggle there must be no neutrals, no indecisive ones. There must be an enlightened, convinced and fearless Catholicism in its faith and works, in private as in public, one hundred per cent Catholic, in the words of the great gathering of Catholic Youth in Fatima four years ago.
“In the hope that our prayers will be favourably heard by the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and that the hour of her triumph and the triumph of the Kingdom of God may be hastened; as a pledge of celestial grace, to you venerable brethren and to all your clergy, to the president of the republic and the illustrious head of the government and his ministers, to all the civil and military authorities and. to all of you beloved sons and daughters, pilgrims of Our Lady of Fatima, with as many as are united to you in spirit in Portugal, at home and overseas, we bestow, L with all paternal affection and love our apostolic blessing.”