Hundreds of people took part in a procession in Letterkenny on Saturday to celebrate the centenary of the vision of the Virgin Mary that three children received in Fatima.
Also on Saturday, Pope Francis proclaimed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the Portuguese children, saints at a Mass in Fatima.
More than 200 people from across the generations gathered at St. Eunan’s Cathedral on Saturday afternoon for the anniversary.
The procession travelled from the cathedral along Lower Ard O’Donnell and up to the statue of the Virgin Mary at the Famine Garden on New Line Road, where they stopped for prayers before returning to the cathedral via Sentry Hill.
Father Philip Kemmy, curate at St. Eunan’s, led the procession in the Rosary and other prayers.
White handkerchiefs that Father Philip brought back from Fatima, blessed at the graves of the siblings, were distributed. As part of the tradition, people bearing handkerchiefs during the procession waved them in the air each time the word “Ave” was sung.
Father Philip instructed people who had received a handkerchief to bring it to someone who was sick. “Tell them you prayed for them in the Fatima procession,” he said.
Some people who lived along the route set up tables in front of their homes holding flowers and statues of the Virgin Mary. Beechwood neighbours set up statues of the Virgin Mary and candles at the corner of New Line Road, to greet the procession as it passed and to provide a local site for residents who may not be able to walk the procession. Local woman Cathy Kelly said the close-knit community makes a similar gesture for the Corpus Christi processions.
Father Philip thanked the Knights of Columbanus who organised the procession and all who helped.
Speaking later, he said the message of Fatima is that “Jesus has given us a mother who is looking out for us and asks us to turn to her, because she always leads to Jesus.” Father Philip referred to the words ascribed to the Virgin Mary at Fatima: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
“In other words, ‘Don’t worry – your mother is looking out for you,’” he said. That’s really what it is, Father Philip said: “Our Lady is looking after us.”