Northern Ireland news

Statue blessed by Pope arrives in Ballymena for Fatima centenary celebration

The statue, which has been blessed by Pope Francis, will be in Ballymena for a 24-hour vigil

A STATUE of Our Lady of Fatima which has been blessed by Pope Francis will be in Ballymena today as parishes across Ireland mark the centenary of the final Marian apparition.

All Saints’ Church is hosting a 24-hour vigil for the 'Centenary of the Miracle of the Sun', which includes midnight Mass, confessions and all-night adoration concluding with Mass at 7.30pm tonight.

Schoolchildren have also been learning about the story of the final apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children - St Jacinta, St Francisco and Lucia, Servant of God - on October 13 1917.

The statue was blessed by the Pope in Fatima in May and is accompanied by statues of the three children as well as relics of St Jacinta and St Francisco and a piece of the holm oak tree from the apparition site.

In the Archdiocese of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin will also celebrate Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral at 7.30pm and crown a statue of Our Lady with a golden crown.

In Glengormley, St Mary's on the Hill parish will show a film about Fatima at 7.30pm and from next week will bring a statue around families in the parish.

Parish priest Fr Paddy Delargy said: "Thousands of people were inspired by the Apparition of Our Lady and responded enthusiastically to her call for prayers for peace.

"We will do what Pope Francis urges us; Our Lady wants us to pray for the conversion of heart of those who are far from their practice of the faith."

The Republic's national postal service, An Post, yesterday issued a new stamp to mark the 100th anniversary.

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