The Theology Of Entrustment

History of Papal Consecrations

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History of Papal Consecrations to Our Lady

The Entrustment of the Third Millennium to the Blessed Virgin Mary is the latest in a series of significant Papal acts of this type. While individuals and individual nations, such as Portugal, have entrusted themselves to the Blessed Mother for centuries, it is only after the apparitions of Fátima in 1917 that the Popes have undertaken such acts.

During the course of the apparition of 13 July 1917 the Mother of God spoke of the errors which Russia would spread throughout the world, the antidote to which was its consecration to the Immaculate Heart. Today we know these errors as militant theoretical atheism, which succeeded in enslaving half the world in its grasp, and propagating perhaps a more virulent form, the practical atheism of rampant materialism, in the other half. In 1917 the Virgin promised to return to ask for Russia's consecration. This she did in June 1929 by appearing to one of the visionaries, Lucia Martos, in the Dorothean Convent in Tuy, Spain, where Lucia was now a religious sister. This request was eventually communicated to the Holy Father Pope Pius XII, who initiated the series of consecrations that lead to the Collegial Consecration of 1984. 

The question can be asked, then, why this new consecration or entrustment? First and most obviously, to consecrate something new, the Third Millennium. This act has never been done, and so is not a repetition of what has gone before, though certainly in the spirit of the previous consecrations. Secondly, because we are men and not angels. Unlike the angels our wills can change and need constant re-enforcement. We are baptized once, but renew our baptismal consecration at the Easter Vigil annually. We consecrate ourselves to Our Lady according to the method of St. Louis de Montfort, but renew it on the anniversary. We likewise renew marital vows and religious professions. All these acts call to mind what we have vowed in the particular case and re-enforce our wills in living what we have promised.

The Previous Acts

 1942, October 31st - Pope Pius XII consecrated the Church and mankind, including the land, Russia, where Mary's icon is often hidden "awaiting better days."

1952, July 7th - Encyclical addressed to the Russian people; made consecration explicit, naming Russia.

1964, November 21st" - Pope Paul VI (at the end of the 3rd session of Vatican II) renewed the consecrations of his predecessor

1981, May 13th - the Pope is shot - he attributes the saving of his life to Our Lady of Fátima. Already very conversant in the message of Fátima, having as bishop brought to Rome on behalf of the Polish bishops a petition for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, while in the hospital he ask his friend, Bishop Paul Hnilica, a Slovak bishop he had known for decades and who had been secretly consecrated a bishop in the underground Church in Czechoslovakia, to get him all the documents related to Fátima. We now know that this included the Third Part of the Secret of Fátima, which prophesies his being shot. He resolved to fulfill the request of the Blessed Virgin. Bishop  Hnilica has stated that the Pope told him in 1981 upon leaving the hospital "I have come to understand that the only way to save the world from war, to save it from atheism, is the conversion of Russia according to the message of Fátima."

1982, May 13th - Pope John Paul II at Fátima:

I am here, united with all the Pastors of the Church in that particular bond whereby we constitute a body and a college, just as Christ desired the Apostles to be in union with Peter. In the bond of this union, I utter the words of the present Act, in which I wish to include, once more, the hopes and anxieties of the Church in the modern world.

Forty years ago and again ten years later, your servant Pope Pius XII, having before his eyes the painful experience of the human family, entrusted and consecrated to your Immaculate Heart the whole world, especially the peoples for which you had particular love and solicitude.

This world of individuals and nations I too have before my eyes today, as I renew the entrusting and consecration carried out by my Predecessor in the See of Peter: the world of the second millennium that is drawing to a close, the modern world, our world today!

In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be entrusted and consecrated.

Included in his prayer was the now famous litany of eight evils from which Mary was asked to spare the human race. "From famine and war, deliver us. From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us. From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us."

1983, October 16th, end of the Synod of Bishops - renewed the 1982 Consecration.

1984, March 25th. Pope John Paul 11 in Rome, collegially with the bishops. In 1981 not much preparation had been done to assure the participation of many bishops. This consecration was preceded by a letter of the Pope, and it is probable that as many as 2/3rd of the Catholic bishops of the world took part in their cathedrals. Although at first the Holy Father manifested some uncertainty whether he complied with Our Lady's request, within one year of the Consecration the changes in the Soviet Union began that led to the fall of state atheism and the dissolution of the Soviet bloc in a manner which the world remains at a loss to explain.  We now know that Sr. Lucia has told the Pope, as she has told others who have asked, that God has accepted the 1984 consecration as satisfying the request of our Lady of Fátima.

In a letter from 1989 she wrote the following about the various Consecrations done over the years by the Popes.

On Oct. 31, 1942, His Holiness Pius XII made the Consecration. I was asked if it was made as Our Lady requested. I answered "NO," because it was not made in union with all the bishops of the world.

Later, on May 13, 1967, His Holiness Paul VI made the Consecration. I was asked if it was made as Our Lady requested. I responded "NO," for the same reason, it was not made in union with all the bishops of the world.

On May 13, 1982, His Holiness John Paul II made the Consecration. I was asked if it was made. I responded "NO." It was not made in union with all the bishops of the world.

Then this same Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II wrote to all the bishops of the world asking them to unite with him. He sent for the statute of Our Lady of Fátima -- the one from the little Chapel to be taken to Rome and on March 25, 1984 - publicly - with the bishops who wanted to unite with His Holiness, made the Consecration as Our Lady requested. They then asked me if it was made as Our Lady requested, and I said, "YES." Now it was made.

Why this urgency of God that this Consecration should be made in union with all the bishops of the world? Because this Consecration is a call for unity of all Christians - The Mystical Body of Christ - whose head is the Pope, the one, true representative of Christ on earth to whom the Lord confided the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and on this union depends the faith in the world and the charity which is the bond that must unite all of us in Christ, as that which He wants, and as He asked the Father: "As You, O Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You have sent Me... I in them, and You in Me; that they be made perfect in one, and the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:21-23).

As we see of the union depends the faith and the charity that must be the bond of our union in Christ, whose true representative on earth is the Pope.

The Pope himself has acknowledged to others, including Bishop Hnilica, that the changes in the Soviet Union are due to the Consecration. As Bishop Hnilica has stated, "This is in some way coming to pass, but it demands that we bear our part of the responsibility." The process is not automatic - is Russia converted? No, but they are free to believe, in some cases more free than in the United States. Conversion requires the change of heart of people. State atheism is gone, but atheism and materialism remain to be conquered in souls. What is our part: personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on First Saturdays.

1991, May 13th.  On the 10th anniversary of the assassination attempt on his life, the Holy Father renewed the Consecration of 1984 while visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Fátima.