By Maggie Maslak
One day before the May 13 celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be visiting the United Nations.
May 12 will mark the second time this particular statue has been to the United Nations, the first being in 1952.
Among the presenters at the May 12 United Nations event is Johnnette Benkovic, founder and president of EWTN’s Women of Grace.
“As she [Our Lady] came to the world through her apparitions to the shepherd children, the 100th anniversary of which will be celebrated the following day, she ‘comes again’ to remind the people of the world that the message is the same – that peace and hope and solidarity are possible through Heaven’s plan,” Benkovic told CNA.
On May 13, 1917, three shepherd children named Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco saw a vision of Our Lady of Fatima who was dressed in white and holding a rosary. These apparitions lasted through October of the same year, and brought messages of prayer, repentance, and reparation.
The apparitions were declared of “supernatural character” by the Catholic Church in 1930, and a shrine was erected near the original apparition site in Fatima. Since then, thousands of pilgrims have made their prayerful journeys to Fatima, including three popes: Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI.
During Pope Francis’ upcoming anniversary pilgrimage to Fatima, he will canonize two of the Fatima visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, on May 13.
The May 12 United Nations event is titled, “The Centenary of Fatima and the Enduring Relevance of Its Message of Peace,” and will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Speakers at the event will include Ambassador Alvaro Mendonca e Moura, permanent representative of Portugal to the UN, and Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN.
“The event will be focused in a very special way on the enduring relevance of Fatima’s message of peace,” stated Fr. Roger Landry, a priest serving for the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission at the UN, according to a press release.
Benkovic highlighted the significance of the statue traveling to the UN. “Its purpose is to promote a message of peacemaking and peace building in light of Our Lady of Fatima and her messages to the children in 1917,” she said.
“We are in tenuous times and the Blessed Mother’s message to the world through the Fatima shepherd children is more relevant and important than ever. I am both honored and abundantly humbled to participate in this unprecedented moment at the UN.”
Benkovic will be presenting at the UN on the topic of “Mary, the Dignity of Woman and Women’s Role in the Promotion of a Culture of Dialogue, Mediation, Peacemaking, and Peace Building.”
As a presenter, Benkovic noted the cultural and unitive significance of Our Lady of Fatima, particularly among three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, saying that Our Lady of Fatima “is a Jewish woman, acclaimed and revered by Christians, and acknowledged and respected by Muslims.”
As Our Lady of Fatima is in the spotlight during May 12-13 around the world, Benkovic is hopeful that her messages of peace and repentance will touch individuals around the world in an unprecedented way.
“My prayer is that the hearts of the attendees and those who will watch via social media will be receptive to the message and the name United Nations will attain its full significance in accordance with the will of God through the maternal beatitude of Our Lady of Fatima,” she said.
Benkovic also hopes that the Fatima event at the UN will cultivate peace and an attitude of love across all cultures around the world, inspiring individuals to utilize their time and talents for the good of mankind.
“I believe it is God’s will that every nation in the world, in a way unique to its people and culture, would seek to establish a civilization of love by infusing family life, communities, institutions, organizations and governmental agencies with moral truth according to the commandments of God and the teachings of the Church,” she said.
“If this even, through the grace of God, helps us to focus our energies and hopes and gifts and talents, individually as well as collectively, in this direction, much good will be accomplished.”