Pope Francis prays at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal on May 12, 2017. / Vatican Media.
Vatican City, Mar 22, 2023 / 06:40 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has invited Catholics to annually renew an act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25.
The solemnity of the Annunciation on Saturday marks one year since Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in St. Peter’s Basilica with a prayer asking for peace in the world.
At the end of his general audience on March 22, the pope recalled his historic act of consecration and called on parish communities and prayer groups to annually renew the Marian consecration.
“Saturday will mark the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, and our thoughts turn to March 25 last year when, in union with all the bishops of the world, we consecrated the Church and humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Pope Francis said.
“Let us not tire of entrusting the cause of peace to the Queen of Peace,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to invite each believer and community, especially prayer groups, to renew every March 25 the act of consecration to Our Lady, so that she, who is Mother, may guard us all in unity and peace.”
Pope Francis also urged people not to forget to pray for “martyred Ukraine, which is suffering so much.”
Last year, Pope Francis asked all the bishops of the world to join him in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, one month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
From the tip of Florida to Seattle, every U.S. diocese participated in the consecration in one form or another. The bishop of Fairbanks prayed the consecration on the shores of the Bering Sea, facing Russia, his diocese’s neighbor just a few hundred miles to the west.
The act of consecration was also read simultaneously by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
In Moscow, Catholics tuned in and prayed along with a live broadcast of the pope’s consecration from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The Virgin Mary specifically asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart in the 1917 apparitions at Fatima.
The Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship defines consecration to Mary as an overt recognition of the “singular role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and of the efficacy of her patronage.”
In the past, several popes have consecrated the Church and world to Mary. Pope Pius XII consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942.
St. John Paul II — who consecrated the entire Church and world to Mary three times during his pontificate — taught that by consecrating oneself to Mary, we accept her help in offering ourselves fully to Christ.
Before praying the consecration last year, Pope Francis explained that it is “an act of complete trust on the part of children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their Mother, reposing all their fears and pain in her heart and abandoning themselves to her.”
“It means placing in that pure and undefiled heart, where God is mirrored, the inestimable goods of fraternity and peace, all that we have and are, so that she, the Mother whom the Lord has given us, may protect us and watch over us.”