During her term of office the National President leads a pilgrimage to a place of her choice which is open to all members. In 2014 Mrs Maureen Mayers chose Fatima in Portugal - and what a wonderful choice!
The Fatima Story is familiar to most of us:-
The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, appeared 6 times to 3 shepherd children; Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta; between May 13 and October 13, 1917. Our Lady came with a message from God to every man, woman, and child of our century and promised that the whole world would be in peace, and that many souls would go to Heaven if her requests were listened to and obeyed. She told us that war is a punishment for sin; that God would punish the world for its sins in our time by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and persecution of the Holy Father, the Pope, unless we listened to and obeyed the command of God.
The children were told by Our Lady that God would perform a miracle so that people would believe in the apparitions. The date was October 13, 1917, in Fatima. On that date, 70,000 people came to see the phenomenon. The miracle occurred with the sun. All could stare perfectly at the sun without blinking, or even hurting their eyes. While all were watching the sun, it rotated, got large and small, came close to the people, and moved far away from them. The sun "danced". Every single person who was there testified to seeing the sun dance, even non- believers who immediately dropped onto their knees and begged for forgiveness.
Our Lady of Fatima continues to work miracles today through Fatima water which is sent from Fatima, Portugal around the world. This Fatima water sprang up in Fatima at the spot the Bishop told people to dig, very near where Our Lady appeared at the Cova de Iria (the Cove of Peace) in Fatima. The water is known to cure people with sicknesses and poor health. Still, other people are cured when they go on pilgrimage to Fatima, which is about 90 miles north of Lisbon, Portugal.
The Union of Catholic Mothers President's Pilgrimage, led by National President Mrs Maureen Mayers (Left), began on 9th September 2014, when 84 Pilgrims began their journey at either Heathrow or Manchester Airport. We landed at Lisbon airport on a bright sunny warm day, then onto the Hotel Olissippo Marques Lisbon to meet up with each other.
On our first morning we went on a panoramic tour of the City of Lisbon, which included Rossio, Chiado and Alfama. We also explored the quarter of Belem, where the Belem Tower can be seen, also the many monuments from the time of the Portuguese voyages of discoveries. In 1495 King Manuel 1 invested a lot of money into this part of Libson, and organised the construction of magnificent Churches and Monasteries, one of which was The Monastery of St Jerome, a truly magnificent sight.
During the day we celebrated a private Mass with Ecclesiastical Advisor to The UCM, Bishop Brain of Salford and concelebrating Priests Father Anthony Sudlow from Salford, Father John Mc Namee from Hallam and Father Steven Pakinson, Bishop Brain's Secretary, at the Church of St Anthony of Padua, where our President gave the Reading. After Mass we were able to venerate the Holy Relic of St Anthony. Our guide for the Pilgrimage gave us a wonderful talk on the history of St Anthony and the miracle of the fishes.
It was then time to leave Lisbon and on to Fatima, which began with a full day visiting Bathalla were we visited the Monastery of Our Lady of Victory, which was commissioned by King Joao 1 to celebrate his victory over the Castillians and independence from Spain, an awe inspiring building. Our journey then took us to Alocoba were we visited the 12th century Cistercian Monastery; this is one of only handful in Europe that has managed to preserve an intact group of medieval buildings, including the church which is the largest Gothic building in Portugal. Within the church we saw the tombs of King Pedro and Innes, a young couple involved in a dramatic love story, as our guide said "very much like Romeo and Juliet".
Then it was onto Nazare, a fishing village that has managed to keep some of its traditions, white washed houses and brightly coloured boats with their traditional high pointed prows. We were able to see the fisherman drying the catch on the beaches, and the local women wearing their traditional 7 layered petticoats; legend states that they wore a petticoat for each day the fishermen were away fishing. We also celebrated Mass at Nossa Senhora de Nazare. After a beautiful Lunch we then went onto Obidos with its castle, picturesque narrow streets and iron balconies, bedecked with beautiful large colourful plants and flowers. It was then time to go to the Hotel Sao Jose for the remainder of our stay, after dinner many of us made our way to the Sanctuary of Fatima for the candlelight procession and Rosary.
The following morning the Mass in the Chapel of the Apparitions was concelebrated in different languages and some of the Mothers were chosen to form the Choir, a very great honour. After Mass there were opportunities to visit the Chapel of the Apparitions, the Basilica and the tombs of the three Seers, Francisco, Jacinta and Sister Lucia and the Museum with its many thousands of objects both big and small. Our next stop was Valinhos, the site of Our Lady's fourth apparition and we also visited the tiny village of Aljustrel where the children and their families lived. Some of us were able to meet the niece of Sister Lucia and although very elderly she was very welcoming with a beautiful smile and happy to pose for pictures with us. Our final visit was to Tomar visiting the Convent of Christ, a UNESCO World Heritage site. After dinner there was a final opportunity to participate in the candlelight procession, Rosary and Blessing at the Chapel of the Apparitions. The following morning the last day of the Pilgrimage, Mass was celebrated in the Chapel of the Resurrection, then it was back to our hotel for breakfast and far too soon it was time to say our goodbyes, and make our way to the airport.
There were many memorable occasions, our guides and drivers were wonderful, there were so many things to see and reflect upon, the accommodation and food superb and the organisation by our National Secretary, Mrs. Irene Mitchell ensured that the National President's Pilgrimage to mark the end of her term of office was memorable and a great success.
List of Intentions the Pope wants to focus on for the month of March