CNA Staff, Mar 25, 2020 / 05:25 pm (CNA).- Twenty-four countries on Wednesday were consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Fatima, Portugal.
In a March 25 ceremony that included the recitation of the rosary and a litany asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for the afflicted, Fatima’s bishop, Cardinal Antonio Marto, renewed the consecration of Portugal and Spain to Jesus and Mary, and added the names of twenty-four other countries.
In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Portuguese bishops’ conference announced last week they would reconsecrate Portugal to Christ and Mary on the evening of March 25. Shortly after the announcement, the Spanish bishops’ conference requested that their country also be consecrated in the same liturgy.
The Portuguese bishops subsequently invited the heads of other national bishops’ conferences to request that their nations be added as well.
In addition to Spain and Portugal, the other 22 countries consecrated at the request of their respective episcopal conferences are: Albania, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Slovakia, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Mexico, Moldova, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Kenya, the Dominican Republic, Romania, Tanzania, East Timor and Zimbabwe.
The cardinal also prayed for “children, the elderly and the most vulnerable,” asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to “comfort doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and volunteer caregivers. Strengthen families and reinforce us in citizenship and solidarity.”
During his remarks, the cardinal recalled that Saints Francisco and Jacinto Marto, shepherd children to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1916 and 1917, both died amid the victims of the Spanish flu pandemic.
Cardinal Marto prayed that the saints would intercede for “”so many sick people who, these days and in a profound way, experience the solitude of isolation to which they are subject.”
In a statement, the bishops’ conference of Portugal noted that on 36 years ago, on March 25, 1984, Pope St. John Paul II consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In Spain, more than 3,600 people have died of the coronavirus, while in Portugal, nearly 3000 are infected and almost 50 have died. More than 21,000 people have died around the world as a result of the novel coronavrius.