Catholic News Service photoA statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried during a candlelight vigil at the shrine in Fatima, Portugal, in 2007.
Catholic News Service photo
A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried during a candlelight vigil at the shrine in Fatima, Portugal, in 2007.
Parishes in western Oregon are receiving invitations to host a famous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the autumn.

The National Pilgrim Virgin Statue will be in Oregon Oct. 6-29 and organizers of the visit are asking Catholic parishes to hold prayer gatherings.

The tour begins at the annual Rosary Bowl in Salem, held at the State Fairgrounds Saturday, Oct. 6. From there, the statue will travel throughout the archdiocese and spend full days at various parishes.  

The statue represents Our Lady of Fatima, a manifestation of Mary that many credit with helping Communism fall. The image originated in 1917, about the time of the Bolshevik revolution, which sought to erase religion from civic life. In Portugal that year, a group of shepherd children began experiencing apparitions of Mary, who warned of dire consequences for the world as a result of sin. She gave messages calling for changes in daily life, peace, devotion to her Immaculate Heart and prayer for the conversion of Russia. The message asked that people pray the rosary daily.

The original statue, kept at a shrine in Portugal, was carved by a man who witnessed the Fatima miracle of the sun in 1917.  

Pope Pius XII crowned Our Lady of Fatima Queen of the World in 1946. The following year, the Bishop of Fatima asked a sculptor to make more statues of Our Lady of Fatima with the assistance of Sister Lucia dos Santos, the surviving member of the three children who witnessed the apparitions. Through the Cold War, more statues were made, including one for the United States, given in 1967 and blessed by Pope Paul VI. The idea is to make devotions to Fatima more available to those who can't travel to Portugal.

For decades, Catholics in the west prayed the rosary on the first Saturday of each month with the intention that the Fatima promises be fulfilled. After the attempt on his life in 1981, Pope John Paul II had the bullet that was taken from his side placed in the crown of the original statue in Fatima.

E. William Sockey, custodian of the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue, will come with the statue and will give presentations if asked. The Knights of Columbus have promised to help Sockey keep watch over the statue, which is never left alone.

Parishes don't need to pay to host the statue. The tour is funded through freewill offerings of the faithful. A parish from each vicariate will be chosen as host and members of other churches will be invited to attend. According to plan, pastors will appoint coordinators to organize the day's visit. Schools, nursing homes, missions and other parish related outreach programs can be included.

The World Apostolate of Fatima is organizing the Oregon visit and is proposing ongoing first Saturday devotions to prepare for the Fatima centennial year in 2017.  

"Just as Our Lady lavishes graces on those who approach her, it is fitting that we fill up what is lacking in this yet unfulfilled Fatima request in thanksgiving and to honor Our Lord, who is pleased when we honor his mother," says Marie Ostermann, a leader of the local World Apostolate of Fatima.

Dates and locations of the visit  will  be available at For more information, call 503-288-2040 or email [email protected]