According to Lebanon Daily News, An important visitor, to Catholics worldwide, is visiting the Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Lebanon June 25 and 23.
She stands 3 1/2 feet tall and is made of solid mahogany wood. She is Our Lady of Fatima, a statue that for Catholics, represents Mary and the messages she is believed to have sent in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
“I would put it this way, she’s the ambassador of peace,” says Patrick Sabat. He is the official custodian for Our Lady of Fatima, and has traveled with her since 2003. He is a good humored man, with kind twinkling eyes. He explains that in their apparition, she appeared to three young shepherd children. “She spoke of peace,” he says simply. Their teachings tell them that she presented a peace plan to the children.
“The peace plan from heaven is a call for prayer, penance and conversion,” says Sabat. He explains that he doesn’t mean religious conversion, but instead refraining from sin. “There is a Greek word that describes that — metanoia,” says Sabat. “It means change of heart.”
Our Lady of Fatima will travel to all 50 states, spreading this message from now into 2017. The statue will visit 100 Catholic dioceses to mark the 100th anniversary, since the 1917 apparition is said to have happened, explains Sabat.
He says Our Lady of Fatima was sent from Fatima, Portugal, in 1947 for the purpose of spreading their message of peace, “not only for those millions of people who would like to come to Fatima, Portugal, but for those people who may never have a chance to hear the message.”
Our Lady of Fatima was created in 1947 by artist Jose Thedim. He was commissioned by Sister Lucia, one of the children said to have seen the apparitions. Thedim carved the statue “according to the description of Sister Lucia, made to be the traveler to send the specific message out to the world,” says Sabat. Our Lady of Fatima was not the only statue Thedim created. She has a twin statue that was blessed May 13, 1947, and sits enshrined in the basilica in Fatima, Portugal.
Sabat says he wants to make it clear that he and his fellow Catholics are not worshiping a statue. “We are not worshiping the solid mahogany wood, we are not worshiping Mary, we honor her because she is the mother of Jesus,” he says.
The same Our Lady of Fatima has been touring the world since 1947. She is transported in a motor home, but when they go overseas, they buy her a plane ticket.
“I tell people she prefers the window seat,” laughs Sabat.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the 100th anniversary tour, according to Sabat. “To me it’s a blessing to be able to see these people coming,” he says beaming.
Some people come to see the statue out of pure curiosity, not knowing what to expect, explains Sabat. There is a range of questions and reactions from onlookers, he says.
“They would say, ‘It’s such a beautiful statue,’ and ‘I was moved,’” he says. “Sometimes they ask, ‘Does, she really make everybody cry?’”
Sabat welcomes people from all religions to come observe Our Lady of Fatima.
“The statue is a magnificent work of art,” he says. “To me, it’s amazing how the artist captured the emotion of Our Lady in the statue.”
People often comment on how “life-like” and “peaceful” she is. “I encourage you all to take a look for yourself,” says Sabat warmly. He explains that the message of Our Lady of Fatima moves Catholics like himself, but that there is something that everyone can appreciate in her message. “I don’t think not only the Catholics are asking for peace,” Sabat says simply.
So far, 85 out of 149 Catholic dioceses have committed to hosting Our Lady of Fatima. At Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary, she will arrive through the church’s entrance on 2 N. Eighth St. Visitors may see her June 25 to the 26.
Let us pray Our Lady continues to bless the faithful and continue to create other converts.