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  • Renée C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    The Rev. Miguel Betancourt, a retired Catholic priest, prays Thursday afternoon alongside the statue of Our Lady of Fatima during its visit to Holy Cross Parish in West Sacramento. Betancourt was in Spain in 1947 when the statue first started touring the world. It will be available for viewing until noon today at Holy Cross Parish.

  • Renée C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    The statue will be available for viewing until noon today at Holy Cross Parish.

  • Renée C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Statue of Our Lady of Fatima

Revered Fatima statue comes to West Sacramento church

Published: Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 - 1:59 pm

Hundreds of Catholic faithful made their way before a traveling statue of Our Lady of Fatima on Thursday to offer up personal prayers, but also some for the world.

"It's an opportunity for the parish to renew devotion to her," said the Rev. Giancarlo Mittempergher of Holy Cross Parish in West Sacramento.

The statue is a representation of the Virgin Mary, who reportedly appeared to three children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. It has traveled around the world since 1947, when it was made based on the description given by one of the children. Another statue is enshrined in Fatima.

The traveling statue, elaborately hand-carved in mahogany, was carefully carried into the Holy Cross church amid a chorus of hymns.

"Ave, ave, ave Maria," parishioners sang in unison, alternating between Spanish and English.

Devotees have said it is not uncommon to see miracles happen in the presence of Fatima. Some pilgrims have reported seeing tears stream from the statue's eyes.

"Look into her eyes with prayers and your problems," statue custodian Patrick Sabat told the crowd. "Mary will surely listen."

In the statue's 65-year history, it has traveled to more than 100 countries, including Russia and China. Fatima's caretakers said they receive visit requests from all over the world.

This was Mittempergher's second time in the statue's presence. The priest related how the same statue visited a South African church while he served as a missionary there.

"She must not be touched," he said. "She will touch you."

After the statue was officially installed in the Holy Cross sanctuary, scores of parishioners lined up to catch a better glimpse. Some even kneeled down, crying. White roses were placed beneath the statue, along with boxes for donations and prayers.

Parishioner A. Paul Martinez, 56, "looked into her eyes" and prayed. "Miracles have happened with Fatima in current times," Martinez said.

Jesus Guzman, a 23-year member of Holy Cross Parish, offered to "pray for the consecration for all people who don't believe in Christ. We pray for the whole world," he said.

The traveling Lady of Fatima remains at Holy Cross until noon today, then moves on to St. Dominic's in Benicia.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Richard Chang



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