Fatima Center Vignettes: The Canadian National Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima Statue
Last year, the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition at Fatima was also another notable anniversary for Our Lady’s apostolate. It was the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the miraculous Canadian Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima statue, one of 25 statues blessed by Pope Paul VI in Fatima on May 13, 1967, the 50th anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition.
This statue was designated as a traveling statue to be used in spreading the message of Fatima and earmarked for the country of Canada. It is the reason for the unique name of The Fatima Center’s head office, The National Committee for the National Pilgrim Virgin of Canada.
The statues – eventually approximately 44 of its kind in the world – were hand carved from wood. Though similar in appearance, because they were not mass-produced, workmanship in the hand carving resulted in small differences mainly in the face, that allow for uniqueness and identification from one statue to another.
From among this unique group of statues, without a doubt, it is The Fatima Center’s statue that has had the most international exposure over the years. Frequently when traveling for Our Lady’s apostolate, I have encountered pictures of our statue in a multitude of locations – in jeepneys and other public transport vehicles in the Philippines and in Europe, in store windows and on the walls of religious priories, on poster and other advertising venues in Portugal, Spain, Italy and in locations in India – indeed in more locations than I can recall.
And if there were any question as to whether or not the pictures I saw were of THE statue of this apostolate, its identity was easily confirmed because of the many recognizable images that were published and given away by The Fatima Center.
With more than 100,000,000 (that’s one hundred million) pieces of literature given away for free over the years in countries on six of the seven continents of the world, and most of the literature having one or more pictures of the statue, it is easy to understand why we have seen images of the statue in various locations on international and North American travels.
True to the mission the statue was intended for, this statue has been transported hundreds of thousands of miles by Father Gruner and Fatima Center staff over the years for the purpose of spreading Our Lady’s Message. The statue has been taken to many parts of North America, to a number of European countries, to destinations in Central America, South America and India.
The statue is often called miraculous. That is mainly because it gives off different perfumes and the statue’s facial expressions change in the images captured on film. This can be seen by looking at various pieces of literature published by our apostolate.
A few years ago, two fairly new employees working in the same office in our apostolate production department (graphic design and layout) were working on different projects but both were working with images of our statue on their monitors.
I went into the office to check on the progress of a project I requested to be done, and standing in the middle of the room I was able to view the screens of both of their monitors. Their desks were on opposite walls and they were facing away from each other.
When I made a comment about the different facial expressions of the statue on their computer monitors, the women looked at me with confusion on their faces. They apparently had difficulty understanding how it was that I couldn’t see that it was two different statues they were using – or so they thought.
But it wasn’t two different statues. It was the same statue with two different expressions on the face! And it took a bit for me to convince them that it was the same statue.
There have also been situations that have occurred that were called miraculous, having been attributed to the presence of this statue.
One such occurrence was recounted by Father Gruner on one of his trips to India many years ago. At the time there were thousands of people who came to see the statue and join Father in a procession. It was during a severe drought that had lasted for months and there was very little water for drinking or washing.
Because of the drought, just walking along the path used for the procession caused clouds of dust to be easily stirred up. Despite the serious shortage of water, out of reverence for Our Lady and Her sacred image, some of the villagers went ahead of the statue in the procession and sprinkled water (the little that was available) on the path to keep the dust from being stirred up and getting on the statue.
Shortly after the procession, Our Lady sent Her thanks by sending a tremendous downpour in the village where the people were so generous on Her behalf with their small water supply, sending plenty of water so desperately needed.
Heaven works miracles on our behalf frequently and we don’t have to look hard for them, we just have to seek the will of God and keep an open heart. Stay tuned for more stories about our beautiful National Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima statue in future Fatima Center Vignettes.