SYRIA – Sign of hope as Aleppo is consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima
The war ravaged city of Aleppo saw a ray of hope this month with a consecration to Our Lady of Fatima on 13 May. The consecration of Aleppo took place on the 100th anniversary of the first Marian apparition at Fatima, the same day that Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of canonization of the shepherd children Francisco and Jacinta Marto at the Fatima Shrine in Portugal.
The Consecration Mass in Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Rite Cathedral was presided over by the pastor, Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh, and concelebrated by the bishops and priests of the city. On their Facebook account, SOS Christians in Syria said “Let us give thanks to God for this heavenly day that was ours to experience, and let us entrust the Christians of Aleppo to our Blessed Mother. May she, the Queen of Peace, since she gave to the world the Prince of Peace, grant to us the much longed for peace in the Middle East and the entire world.”
A statue of Our Lady of Fatima that was sent directly from the shrine in Portugal for the consecration was carried in procession after the Mass through the Christian al-Azizieh neighborhood, which has suffered numerous attacks in recent years. The Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Antonio Marto, had blessed this statue that would be sent to the “martyr diocese” of Aleppo on 13 October 2016, at the close of the last international pilgrimage of the year at the Fatima Shrine.
The cathedral was filled with joyful Christians many of whom were moved to tears because for many years, a procession with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima had not been held. “Many of us cried because after six years we’re able to again organize the procession through the streets of Aleppo without the fear of missiles. With emotion we welcome the Virgin of Fatima to Aleppo and with the hope that the Virgin Mary will pray for peace for all of Syria,” one of those attending said.
Despite the ceasefire, living conditions Aleppo are still very hard – there is a shortage of food, medicine and other essential supplies. Electric and water services have not yet been restored.