Pope Francis will hold an extraordinary prayer called “consecration” for Russia and Ukraine next week, the Vatican announced Tuesday.
The prayer is unique because it is linked to a belief in a 1917 prophecy of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, in which it is claimed she said the consecration of Russia would usher in a period of world peace.
“Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated,” the prophecy reads.
The Catholic Church maintains that Mary asked for prayers for the “conversion of Russia”, in particular for the “consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart”, saying that if this is done, “Russia will be converted and there will have peace”.
This special request from the Virgin Mary is known as the Third Secret of Fatima, named after the city in Portugal where she is said to have appeared to three children in 1917.
John Paul II was devoted to the Virgin of Fatima, because he believed that she had saved him from death during a assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square May 13, 1981, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima.
On March 25, 1984, John Paul II consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but did not specifically mention Russia, leading some to suggest the consecration was not done properly.
Pope Francis will perform the consecration in St. Peter’s Basilica on the same date as John Paul II, March 25, according to the Vatican statement.
On the same day, Cardinal Krajewski, the papal chaplain, will perform the consecration at Fatima, the statement said.
The pope has so far refrained from calling on Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to condemn the war, and he has not publicly condemned Putin or Russia by name, despite his fervent calls for an end to the war. Other Catholic Church officials, however, have not been so reluctant.
Here is what else religious leaders have said about the war: