Karjat, 3,000 Catholics and non-Catholics celebrate Fatima's centenary. Card Gracias: Pray for Peace (Photo)
by Nirmala Carvalho

The sanctuary in Maharashtra is the oldest in Asia. The Archbishop of Mumbai blesses the new altar. All faithful lunch together. Families consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Around 3,000 people, Catholics and of other religious confessions, crowded the celebrations for the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in the sanctuary of Karjat in Maharasthra, the first to be dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary in Asia.

Marking the occasion, Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, consecrated and blessed the new altar of the church. The cardinal also renewed the act of consecration of the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He told the crowd: "Let us live the message of Fatima. Pray for peace and make sacrifices emphasizing the power of prayer. "

The celebrations took place on May 13, at the same time as the canonization in Fatima of the two little shepherds Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The faithful came to the sanctuary from early dawn, despite the start of Mass being scheduled for 10:30 in the morning.

Speaking in front of the devotees of Our Lady, whose worship is increasingly widespread among non-Christians, the cardinal said: "At Fatima the Blessed Virgin spoke of World War. Wars continue today, with different forms and dangers, turmoil, upheaval and violence all over the world. Wars are also in our personal lives, in the struggle between good and evil. " For this, he stressed, "It is important to pray, pray for peace".

According to Card. Gracias, "in families there is a growing need to pray." So he invited everyone to "pray the Rosary in families, praying for peace in our homes, in family relationships and in the world."

During the liturgy, the Archbishop of Mumbai blessed the new altar of the sanctuary, sprinkling holy water and crism oil. Fr. Callistus Fernandes, rector of the sanctuary, reports that at the end of the celebration "all pilgrims lunched together. In the afternoon, Eucharistic adoration and family consecration followed. "

The priest recalls the great faith of the present, who have gathered in prayer in front of the statue of Our Lady. Many of them, he adds, "had tears, filled with great emotion as they prayed and invoked Mary's intercession."