Monday, March 12, 2012

Our Lady of Fatima

On Sunday, St. Elisabeth School and Parish dedicated a street corner to Our Lady of Fatima, complete with grotto and statue.  About 500 people crowded the streets to witness the event.

The story of Fatima is legendary in the Catholic Church. The Virgin Mary appeared to three small shepherd children in the village of Cova da Iria in Portugal beginning on May 13, 1917. She would appear many times over the next six months, always on the thirteenth day. Her message to the world was one of prophecy, including a second world war and the grave challenges the church would face. Some say she predicted the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981, as well as the sex abuse scandal that has shaken the very foundation of the institution.

Two of the children were cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who died in the Spanish Influenza outbreak 1919-1920. The lone survivor was Sister Lucia dos Santos, a member of the Discalced Carmelite order of nuns. She died at the age of 97 in 2005. The bodies of Jacinta and Francisco were exhumed in 1935 and 1951. Francisco’s corpse had decomposed, but Jacinta’s face was incorrupt, a common sign of a saintly person, according to church history.

St. Elisabeth School sits in an economically depressed area where police cars, crime and violence are frequently present.  But the students are good kids with concerned and motivated parents willing to make sacrifices to send their kids to a Catholic school.  Often, vendors with carts and stands line the sidewalks outside of the church to sell food and religious trinkets.  The neighborhood teems with life amid the rough and tumble streets of the barrio.

For this one Sunday, though, parishioners flooded those streets to watch the statue installed on the corner of Cedros Avenue and Kittridge Street.  The project was spearheaded by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization which has offered hope and assistance to an almost infinite number of people around the world.

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