By Courtney Mares
Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops have asked Pope Francis to consecrate Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In a letter to the pope, the Ukrainian bishops said that they were writing “in these hours of immeasurable pain and terrible ordeal for our people” in response to many requests for the consecration.
“Responding to this prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to publicly perform the act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima,” said the letter, published on the bishops’ website on Ash Wednesday, March 2.
“May the Mother of God, Queen of Peace, accept our prayer: Regina pacis, ora pro nobis.”
Their request came as Russian forces moved to encircle the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where multiple blasts were reported early Wednesday morning, and troops laid siege to Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
More than 453,000 people have fled to Poland in the past six days, according to the Polish Border Guard agency. On March 1 alone, 98,000 people crossed the border into Poland.
The Ukrainian bishops have also posted on their website an updated Ukrainian text of an act of consecration of Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, asking that it be recited privately and after each Mass.
About 1% of the Ukrainian population are Latin Rite Catholics. They are concentrated in the west of the country, with six dioceses suffragan to the Archdiocese of Lviv of the Latins.
The majority of Catholics in Ukraine belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with Rome. Greek Catholics make up about 9% of Ukraine’s 44 million population, which is predominantly is Orthodox Christian.
Before the revolutions of 1917 that overthrew the Russian Empire and led to the creation of the Soviet Union, Russia was colloquially known as the “house of Mary” because there were more shrines and churches dedicated to Our Lady than in any other country at the time.
The second secret was a statement that World War I would end, and a prediction of another war that would start during the reign of Pius XI if people continued to offend God and Russia was not consecrated to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
Sister Lucia, one of the three Fatima visionaries, recalled in her memoirs that Our Lady asked for “the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays” to prevent a second world war.
She said that Mary told her: “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”
“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In recent years, Catholic bishops have continued to call for Marian consecrations of their countries during times of violence.
In 2018, a cardinal said that Mexico said that the country should be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary due to the prevailing violence, poverty, and corruption.
On Feb. 24, the day that Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the bishops’ conference also asked for all Latin Rite Catholics in Ukraine to pray to Our Lady.
“Now is the time to unite in prayer: in our families, with our neighbors, in our prayer communities, and in every parish. We encourage priests from today, after each Holy Mass, in addition to singing the supplication, to pray the Act of Consecration of Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God,” the bishops’ conference wrote.
“We pray the rosary together or other prayers for peace, for the rulers of our state, for our army and all those who defend our homeland, for the wounded and the dead, as well as remembrance for those who started the war and were blinded by aggression,” it said.
“Let us protect our hearts from hatred and anger against our enemies. Christ gives a clear instruction that we should pray for them and bless them.”