Toronto’s Our Lady of Fatima parish is in possession of a chip of wood from the original tree on which the Virgin Mary appeared and splinters of the original caskets in which Jacinta and Francisco Marto were buried. Photo by Jean Ko Din

Fatima relics create a special connection for Toronto parish

By 
  • May 11, 2017

While Pope Francis and countless thousands of Catholics flock to Portugal this week to celebrate one of the most famous Marian devotions in the world, a little piece of Fatima can be found in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, a Scarborough parish dedicated to Our Lady received new relics from the Holy See.

Our Lady of Fatima parish is now in possession of a chip of wood from the original tree on which the Virgin Mary appeared and splinters of the original caskets in which Jacinta and Francisco Marto were buried.

“In a way, you’re bringing Fatima to them and that is the connection,” said Fr. Victor Mallia, who requested the relics from Rome. “I think (the relics) are something that gives more value to the devotion because not everyone can go to Fatima.”

Mallia plans to build an outdoor shrine beside the church where the new relics can be venerated at all hours of the day. Plans for the outdoor shrine have already begun and Mallia says he expects to have it ready for visitors by August this year.

“That shrine will be a kind of memorial, like a monument, that the parish is setting up to honour the Virgin Mary but also to mark the 100 years since the apparitions,” said Mallia.

The parish already has a Fatima relic displayed on the pedestal under the shrine statue inside the church. The relic was bequeathed to Mallia from a priest friend who received the chip of wood from a descendant of Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, who together with cousins Jacinta and Francisco witnessed the apparitions in 1917.

The story goes that a sibling of Sr. Lucia ripped off a branch of the tree Our Lady appeared on. When a grandson entered the seminary to become a priest, he was gifted with a large chunk of this branch which he then shared with his fellow seminarians.

One of these seminarians was the priest friend who then gifted it to Mallia to display in the parish shrine.

“I insist that the important thing is that we know the message of Fatima and live by that message because after all… knowing the story on its own is no good,” said Mallia.

Mallia said the parish’s centenary celebrations must be centred on the Fatima messages itself — to pray the rosary, do penances and pray for peace in the world.

“And the world needs peace right now,” said Mallia. “I think we need to once again recognize that urgent message that the Virgin Mary gave in Fatima and do something about living it.”

From May to October, the parish will host a nine-day novena each month leading up to the 13th day of the month. Each month’s novena will reflect on each of the six apparitions the three children witnessed in 1917.

On the Wednesday of the novena, there will be a rosary, followed by Mass and an indoor procession with the statue of the Virgin Mary.

The neighbouring school, Our Lady of Fatima Elementary School, is also joining in the celebrations by concluding May’s novena with a school Mass and a procession to the church.

“It’s good to get the children to participate in this because Our Lady of Fatima, she didn’t choose an old person like me, or a priest, or a bishop,” said Mallia. “She wanted the truth to come out of the mouths of the little ones.”

From May 26 to June 4, the parish will be host to a travelling Vatican International Exhibition on Marian apparitions and shrines around the world.

The parish community will conclude its centenary celebrations on Oct. 13 with a thanksgiving Mass with Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Nguyen where the congregation will consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

For more information about the parish and its centenary celebrations, visit fatimashrine.ca.

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