• Pope Francis led hundreds of thousands of pilgrim faithful in the recitation of the Holy Rosary on Friday evening in Fatima, Portugal, where the Holy Father is on pilgrimage to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to three shepherd children there.

    After the Rosary, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, celebrated Mass for the faithful.

    The Pope and the pilgrims offered the Joyful Mysteries: the five decades were offered in different languages, beginning with Arabic and then proceeding to a decade in Spanish and Ukrainian, the third in Italian and Chinese, the fourth in English and French, and the fifth in German and Polish.

    All throughout the devotion, Pope Francis was seated before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima beneath the canopy that covers the Little Chapel of the Apparitions, where earlier in the day he had left a golden rose in gift: a pilgrim among pilgrims.

    It is difficult thing to imagine, and perhaps impossible to describe: hundreds of thousands of people gathered to pray in the several tongues of the earth, alternating between near perfect unison of praise and near perfect silence, aided by a choir of exceptional quality.

    In a world that seems to crave noise and a kind of cookie-cutter nonconformity that is an orchestrated imitation of true liberty and authenticity, here on Friday evening there was a natural and easy concord that betold a deeper unity of spirit than mere art can achieve: people of many nations and tongues gathered together to implore the Queen of Heaven to intercede in our behalf and obtain from her divine Son the gift of peace on Earth.

    This was a theme on which Cardinal Parolin focused with great intensity in his homily.

    “A hundred years after the apparitions,” in which Our Lady instructed the shepherd children to tell the world to convert and pray for peace, Cardinal Parolin said, “it is true that, as Pope Francis has observed, ‘for many people today, peace appears as a blessing to be taken for granted, for all intents an acquired right to which not much thought is given, yet for all too many others, peace remains merely a distant dream.  Millions of people still live in the midst of senseless conflicts.  Even in places once considered safe, a general sense of fear is felt.  We are frequently overwhelmed by images of death, by the pain of innocent men, women and children who plead for help and consolation, by the grief of those mourning the loss of a dear one due to hatred and violence, and by the drama of refugees fleeing war and migrants meeting tragic deaths’ (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 9 January 2017).”

    “In the midst of great concern and uncertainty about the future,” asked Cardinal Parolin, “what does Fatima ask of us?  Perseverance in the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, shown daily by the recitation of the Rosary.  And what if, despite our prayers, wars continue?  Even though immediate results may not be evident, let us persevere in prayer.  Prayer is never useless.  Sooner or later, it will bear fruit.”

    “Prayer,” said Cardinal Parolin, “is capital in the hands of God; he turns it to good account in his own times and ways, which are very different from our own.”