7-October-2000 -- Vatican Information Service |

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THOUSANDS PRAY ROSARY BEFORE STATUE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA

VATICAN CITY, OCT 7, 2000 (VIS) - Pope John Paul and 1,500 bishops from around the world who are celebrating their Jubilee were joined in St. Peter's Square late this afternoon by tens of thousands of priests, religious and lay faithful to pray the rosary. The ceremony was linked via radio and television to sites throughout the world where the faithful also prayed the rosary in churches, shrines, schools, stadiums and parks.

Before the Holy Father entered the square to begin the Marian prayer, he processed through St. Peter's Basilica with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which had arrived last evening from the shrine in Portugal. The ring which Pope John Paul received at the start of his pontificate from Polish Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski is now part of the rosary which adorns the statue.

The statue of Our Lady was placed on a pedestal in the square. During the rosary, five candles at her feet were lit - one at the start of each of the glorious mysteries. Each mystery was announced and explained, followed by a bishop reading a passage from the New Testament. Then, one cardinal from each continent read a passage from the apostolic exhortation or "Instrumentum laboris" from the synod which had been held for his continent. Four families from as many continents led the first four decades of the rosary. The fifth glorious mystery was led by Sr. Lucia, the only survivor of the three shepherd children to whom the Virgin appeared in 1917, and the nuns from the monastery of Coimbra, Portugal.

After the prayer the Pope addressed the faithful gathered in the square, saying that today, "the first Saturday of October, could only bring us to pray together at the feet of Our Lady whom the People of God venerate today as Queen of the Holy Rosary.

"In particular, our prayer this evening is placed in the light of 'the message of Fatima', whose contents help our reflections on the history of the 20th century. Strengthening this spiritual prospective there is, happily, the presence among us of the venerated image of Our Lady of Fatima, which I have the joy to welcome once again in the Vatican."

The Pope went on to say that "Jesus Christ, the Risen One, has invited the entire world to proclaim His Gospel of salvation and, from Jerusalem, throughout 20 centuries, the message has reached five continents. ... There is no century, no people in which she has not made her presence felt, bringing the faithful - especially the least and the poor - light, hope and comfort."

He concluded by pointing out that "tomorrow, at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, we will fulfill in a collegial way, our 'Act of Entrustment' to the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

After Pope John Paul's remarks, three young shepherd children from Portugal presented a floral tribute to Our Lady of Fatima. The statue was then processed through St. Peter's Square and brought to the Vatican's Mater Ecclesiae monastery.

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