Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this Friday, the Vatican said.
The consecration will take place during the Celebration of Penance in St. Peter's Basilica.
“The same act, on the same day, will be performed in Fatima by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner,” the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement.
Krajewski is being sent there by the pope. He was in Ukraine last week at the request of the pope to show concern for its citizens. The papal almoner performs works of mercy on behalf of the pope.
A nation that is consecrated is set aside for a holy reason.
The word “entrustment” will often be used synonymously with the word consecration.
Consecration to Mary is defined by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship as recognizing 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, or trust in her intercession and of the efficacy of her patronage.”
The bishops of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine had asked the pope to consecrate Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary last month in a letter.
“In these hours of immeasurable pain and terrible ordeal for our people, we, the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Ukraine, are spokesmen for the unceasing and heartfelt prayer, supported by our priests and consecrated persons, which comes to us from all Christian people to dedicate Your Holiness our Motherland and Russia,” the letter reads.
“Responding to this prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to publicly perform the act of consecration to the Sacred Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima.”
A press release on the Vatican website explained that in 1917 in the central Portuguese town of Fatima, “Our Lady [the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus] had asked for the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, stating that if this request were not granted, Russia would spread ‘its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church.’”
The Fatima apparitions of 1917 are some of the most famous Marian apparitions of the Catholic Church. Three secrets were revealed by Mary through the appearances. The second secret was that World War I would end, but that another world war would begin during Pius XI’s reign if people continued to offend God and Russia wasn’t consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
There have been additional consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary since 1917.
Pope St. John Paul II consecrated the entire Church and world to Mary three times during his pontificate.