History of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima
The history of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue begins in 1946. At that time, after the youth of Portugal attended a Congress in Fatima, they took the Statue from display in the Cova on pilgrimage to Lisbon. As they walked the route they stopped at the towns and people gathered to pray. In Lisbon when they entered the cathedral, the miracle of doves occurred. Many other phenomena also occurred inspiring devotion and inspiring the fervor among the people.
The statue was returned to its place in the Cova de Iria but many people wished for a visit in their own communities. The Bishop asked Sr. Lucia in a letter about sending the statue on tour. Sr. Lucia responded with a letter suggesting that the new statue, just then being made, by the famous sculptor Jose Thedim be used as a pilgrim statue. The bishop agreed and, on May 13, 1947, this new statue was blessed and named the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
Almost before it began its journey, so many places wanted her visit that it was realized a second statue should also be blessed. This second statue made also by Jose Thedim was completed and blessed by the Bishop of Fatima on October 13, 1947 (Exactly 30 years to the day after the great miracle of the sun which was to draw the world's attention to Mary's Message.)
The Bishop of Fatima entrusted the Western statute to Mr. John Haffert, who later became the co-founder of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima in America. It entered the United States through Canada at Buffalo, New York, on December 8, 1947. (December 8th being our patronal Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.) At Buffalo 200,000 people lined the streets and welcomed Our Lady on that occasion. To fulfill the mandate of the Bishop to travel, teach and inspire, Mr. Haffert assigned the first custodian, Fr. McGrath of Canada. The statue has always had a full time custodian and has never stopped traveling since 1947.
In 1995 Mr. Haffert formed the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue Foundation to continue to fulfill the mandate of the Bishop of Fatima with the travels and teaching the Fatima Message.
The miracles, favors, and signal graces were so numerous from the very beginning that even the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, reflected on them in his famous radio address to the pilgrims at Fatima, May 13, 1951. He recalled having crowned the Fatima statue in 1946:
On May 13, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI said: "At that time it was only three children, yet the example of their lives spread and multiplied, especially as a result of the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin, in countless groups, throughout the world dedicated to the cause of fraternal solidarity."
The important miracles are the spiritual cures and gifts Our Lady bestows. The sudden conversion of a stubborn heretic is a good example. Another important miracle is the enlightenment of someone who has resisted the idea of statues or the idea of praying to saints. The spiritual miracles are infinitely more valuable than the things we can see, touch, or measure.
What is astounding is the fact that, even in countries with a minority of Catholics, millions of people gathered for visits of the pilgrim statue.
How can I host the IPVS?
To find out how you can host the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue, please contact:
Rose Marie Malburg
President, Pilgrim Virgin Committee
If you have additional questions, please read the frequently asked questions page, and do not hesitate to contact the Pilgrim Virgin Committee. God bless you!