Catholic News Service and Tennessee Register staff reports
Bishop J. Mark Spalding of Nashville will join Pope Francis and bishops and priests around the world in consecrating Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Friday, March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.
Bishop Spalding will lead the recitation of the prayer of consecration as part of the celebration of the 12:10 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. Both concerned Catholics and non-Catholics are invited to join the bishop for the peaceful, prayerful and respectful service.
The Mass and consecration will be livestreamed at watchmass.com and on the Facebook pages for the Diocese of Nashville and the Cathedral.
The Feast of the Annunciation is also the feast of the patron saint of the Cathedral.
For more information, visit dioceseofnashville.com/praytogether/.
Pope Francis announced that in context of the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine, he would lead the prayer to consecrate Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, in St. Peter’s Basilica during a Lenten penance service.
The pope invited bishops and priests around the world to join him by holding their own consecration services on the same day.
Bishops in every part of the globe had started announcing they would lead special services to join Pope Francis. Bishops in cities across North America, including Bishop Spalding, joined bishops from New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Ukraine and other countries planning special services.
The Eastern- and Latin-rite Catholic bishops of Ukraine had been asking Pope Francis for the consecration.
“Prayers to do this came from all parts of the world from our faithful,” Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, head of the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church, said March 16.
The country’s Latin-rite bishops published their appeal to Pope Francis March 2, telling him that their priests, religious and laity all asked that he “consecrate our motherland and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
In a brief March 16 statement following a two-day plenary in Irkutsk, Russia’s Catholic bishops welcomed the pope’s decision with “joy and gratitude,” and called on Catholic parishes and communities across the country to schedule “appropriate prayers” and individuals to combine prayer with fasting and “deeds of love.”
“We call on all Catholics, remembering that ‘reality is always higher than ideas,’ in the words of Pope Francis, to strive for mutual understanding and be heralds of the word of reconciliation,” they said.
On the same day, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, will lead a similar act of consecration at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
When Mary appeared to three shepherd children at Fatima in 1917 with a message encouraging prayer and repentance, she also asked for the consecration of Russia.
According to the Vatican’s translation of the messages of Fatima, when Mary appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima in 1917, she told them, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”
Warning of “war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father,” Mary told the children, “To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart.”
“If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”
But, the message continued: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In 1984, St. John Paul II led the world’s bishops in the consecration of Russia and the world. The late Sister Lucia dos Santos, the last surviving visionary and the one who received the instructions for the consecration, had said that it was properly performed.
At his Sunday recitations of the Angelus since Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, people have been showing up in St. Peter’s Square with signs asking the pope for the consecration of Russia or of Russia and Ukraine to Mary.