|Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State
Your faith has made you well
On Sunday, 14 October , in the new Church of the Holy Trinity in
Fatima, Portugal, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State,
presided as Papal Legate at the concluding Mass for the 90th anniversary
of the apparitions at Cova da Iria (13 October 1917) to the shepherd
children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. A television link-up enabled
pilgrims in Fatima to participate in the Marian Prayer of the Angelus
led by the Holy Father in Rome and to hear his Reflection.
The Church of the Holy Trinity has a capacity of 9,000 and was
designed by Greek architect, Alexandos Tombazis, with 13 doors, said to
represent Christ’s Last Supper with his Apostles.
The following is a translation of Cardinal Bertone’s Homily, which was
given in Italian and Portuguese.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This solemn celebration concludes the mission the Holy Father has
entrusted to me to represent him here in Fatima on the occasion of the
90th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the three
shepherd children at Cova da Iria. Yesterday was a Saturday, as was that
13 October 1917.
Today, we are meeting once again in this beautiful church — which two
years ago I had the joy of dedicating to the Blessed Trinity — to
celebrate the Eucharist on the Day of the Lord, the weekly Easter. We
have just heard the Apostle Paul's words: "Remember Jesus Christ, risen
from the dead, descended from David" (II Tim 2:8-13),
He comes to renew this call on Sunday, every Sunday. We thank God for
having had the chance to listen to him today, here in Fatima, the place
chosen by Our Lady to offer a motherly message, through the three little
shepherd children, to the Church and to the whole world
I with to express my gratitude to the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima and to his
collaborators for the welcome I was given as Papal Legate. I have again
joyfully perceived the deep devotion to the Successor of Peter which one
breathes in Portugal and particularly in this blessed place.
Greet the Bishops, priests, men and women religious, the Authorities and
all the pilgrims present I greet the faithful in Portugal, Italy and
other parts of the world who have joined us by television link-up.
I offer a special greeting to the parishioners of Fatima and of the
other three parishes adjoining the Shrine To each and every one I pass
on joyfully the Greeting and Blessing of His Holiness Benedict XVI,
whose voice we shall hear here at the Angelus, at the very end of this
A foreigner thanks Jesus
Dear brothers and sisters, let us now seek to understand the Word of God
that has just been proclaimed.
The Gospel speaks of the meeting of 10 lepers with Jesus. They are
healed by him but only one, a Samaritan, returns to thank him and it is
to this grateful foreigner dull he says, "Your faith has made you well"
All 10 were "healed" from their illness, yet only one was “saved”: the
one who through his faith glorified God and thanked Jesus. St. Luke
stresses that the leper who was saved was a foreigner.
Naaman, of whom
the first Reading speaks, a commander in the army of the Arameans and
sick with leprosy, was also foreigner. He was denied when, obeying the
Prophet Elisha's words, he went to wash in the waters of the River
The Word of God, as we sang in the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm,
sheds light on the fact that “the salvation the Lord is for all the
peoples". Universal openness of salvation and fidelity to Israel, which
at first sight appear contradictory, are in fact two inseparable and
reciprocal aspects of the same saving mystery: it is precisely the
intensity and steadfastness of God's love for the people he has chosen
that makes this love a "blessing" for all peoples (cf. Gn 12:3).
This is manifested to the most exalted degree in the Cross of Christ,
the greatest sign of his dedication to the lost sheep of the House of
Israel and, at the same lime, of the redemption of all humanity.
The Word of God, which today resounds in the liturgy throughout the
world, acquires a quite special significance for us who hear it in this
blessed place, marked 90 years ago by Mary's special presence.
Everything here continues to be illuminated by this spiritual presence,
which also offers us a perspective for interpreting the message of
Scripture that we can sum up like this: Mary was preserved from the
leprosy of sin, she lived continually giving thanks to God and be came
the icon of salvation; "full of grace", is a sign of God's fidelity to
his promises, an image and a model of the church, the new Israel open to
all peoples; Mary fully participated in the Paschal Mystery of her Son:
she died with him and lives with him, with him she persevered, and with
him she reigns for ever (cf. I Tim 2:11-12).
A constant reference to sin
The beautiful Lady presented
herself to the shepherd children dazzling with light; but in her words
and sometimes also on her face, veiled with features of sadness, was a
constant reference to the reality of sin, she showed the children her
Immaculate Heart, crowned with thorns, and explained that their prayers
and sacrifices were needed to atone for all the evils that offended God,
in order to bring an end to war and obtain peace for the world. Mary's
language was simple and suitable for children, but far from sugary and
nothing like the language of a fairy tale.
Indeed, she introduced them in very realistic terms into the drama of
life; she asked for their collaboration and since she found Jacinta,
Francisco and Lucia full of generous willingness she revealed to them:
"Therefore, you will have much to suffer, but God's grace will be your
comfort" (First Apparition, 13 May 1917).
The Virgin chooses innocent children as her select collaborators in
order to combat with the weapons of prayer and penance, of sacrifice and
suffering, the terrible leprosy of sin that corrupts humanity. Why does
she do so?
Might it not be because this responds to the method of God, who "chose
what is weak in the world to shame the strong... things that are not, to
thing to nothing things that are" (I Cor 1:27, 28).
Our thoughts go to the example of the many children who have faced and
today still continue to face suffering and illness with serenity,
comforting their parents and relatives in moments of such great testing.
Among these marvellous figures of miniature apostles of Christ, I am
pleased to remember the extraordinary Silvio Dissegna, a little boy from
the Piedmont who died of cancer when he was about 12 years old and whose
cause of Beatification has already been introduced.
Ninety years alter the apparitions, Fatima continues to be a beacon of
comforting hope but also a strong appeal for conversion. The light that
Mary made shine into the eyes of the shepherd children and manifested to
so many people in the miracle of the sun on 13 October, shows that God's
grace is stronger than sin and death.
Mary, invites everyone, however, to convert and repent; she wants simple
hearts who generously accept to pray and suffer for the reparation of
sins, for the conversion of shiners and for the salvation of souls. Mary
expects a response from all her children!
Dear brothers and sisters, let us consider her invitation and remain
faithful to our Christian vocation. Let us offer fervent prayers every
day, especially the Holy Rosary, as well as our suffering in reparation
for sin and for world peace.
Let us consider ourselves her small and humble children who are anxious
to live in praise and glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to whom this
Church is felicitously dedicated. Amen!