AFRICA/SÃO TOMÉ E PRÍNCIPE - Following the pilgrim visit of Our Lady of Fatima, we expect “a renewal of Christian life of our diocese,” Bishop Santos tells Fides

Friday, 18 February 2011

São Tomé (Agenzia Fides) – From 30 April to 4 June, the Diocese of São Tomé e Príncipe will welcome the visit of the pilgrim image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. “We intend to show our devotion to the Mother of God, in a land that has always had a special love for Our Lady,” Bishop Manuel Santos, CMF, of São Tomé and Príncipe told Fides.
The Virgin is invoked in this land under different titles, and thus “the devotion to Mary is part of the reality of this peoples' Christian faith,” emphasised the Bishop.
The Diocese of São Tomé e Príncipe celebrated 478 years of its existence on 31 January, making it one of the oldest ecclesiastical districts south of the Sahara. “In celebration of this date,” Bishop Santos told Fides, “we thought it would be of great significance to take the image of Our Lady to all the parishes within the diocese, making the most of this opportunity for a public celebration of our faith with Mary, to renew the vital importance of our being Christians, to reassert our identity as Catholics, to deepen our Christian faith through the Word of God and the Sacraments, and to create a greater sense of family around our Mother in Heaven.”
According to the program set out, the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Fatima will leave from Lisbon (Portugal) accompanied by the Bishop emeritus of São Tomé e Príncipe, Bishop Ribas, and arrive at the airport of São Tomé on the morning of 30 April. From there it will travel in procession to the church of “Nossa Senhora da Conceição”. On Sunday, 1 May, a Solemn Mass will be celebrated with the renewal of the act of consecration of the Diocese of the Sacred Heart of Mary. It will then commence visiting parishes across the diocese. On 27 May, the pilgrim Virgin will leave São Tomé by plane for the island of Principe, where it will be for two days. 4 June will close the pilgrimage, and the image will return to Fatima where, on 5 June, the Bishop of São Tomé e Príncipe will preside at a solemn Eucharistic celebration. “We hope that this visit will truly be a moment of grace and blessing, leading to a renewal of Christian life within our diocese,” concluded Bishop Santos. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 18/2/2011)