– Miguel Augusto
Macau was once again united around the celebrations of May 13, which marks the first apparition of Our Lady in Fatima (Portugal), in Cova da Iria, to the little shepherds Lúcia, Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
The moment that the Catholic community awaits on this day of joy around Mary Most Holy is the Procession of Our Lady of Fatima, which has already been held in the “City of the Name of God” for nine decades. It is notable that this procession today brings together faithful from the various corners of the world; some residents in the territory or in the vicinity, others from more distant regions, who purposely come to Macau for the Procession.
The celebrations in the territory on this day – Mass and Procession – are in tune with those of the Shrine of Fatima, in Portugal. The procession left shortly after 7 pm local time at the church of Saint Dominic after the Eucharistic celebration in honor of the Holy Mother of God. This church was founded in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests who were linked to the Confraternity of Our Lady of the Rosary. The temple is thus an appropriate venue for the celebrations and the starting point of the procession, because Our Lady entitled herself at Fatima as “the Lady of the Rosary.”
The square of the church of Saint Dominic was flooded with people. Among many faithful, there were also many curious onlookers who wanted to capture the moment, with their smartphones and photographic equipment. Hundreds of devotees accompanied Our Lady along with our Bishop D. Stephen Lee, priests and religious sisters.
The arrangement of the procession in Macau has some peculiarities of its own that were born of the devotion and customs of the local community. The platform with white roses carrying the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Fatima is usually carried by white and veiled ladies, members of the Congregation of Our Lady of Fatima (founded in 1929). Close to them, we have three children who symbolize the shepherds – two girls and a boy, dressed as at the time of the apparitions. Other children also join this group, dressed in white symbolizing angels that accompany the Celestial Mother. We also have some volunteers, official members of the procession – men and women – who help in the course and support the children and the faithful. They also ensure, with the support of the public security police, the corridor of the passage of the procession and the safety of all.
The route of the procession followed that of previous years. The first time it was held in 1929, the procession was made only around the church of Saint Dominic. In 1930, the procession concluded in the Penha Hill.
The night was humid, but there was a fresh breeze that brought some freshness to all who pledged to follow Our Lady to the Hermitage of Penha, to the rhythm of the prayer of the Holy Rosary.
When we arrived at the church of Penha, before the farewell to Our Lady, our bishop D. Stephen Lee professed a prayer of consecration of all the faithful and of the territory to Our Lady and, raising the Blessed Sacrament, blessed those present and Macau.
Some faithful still had the opportunity to enter the church and there, contemplating the Virgin Mary, meditated and said their farewell, taking the Blessed Mother in their hearts.