After the adventurous departure from Bouar, Friday morning I was able to take the flight to Cameroon. I’m with Ludmila, member of the association SIRIRI.ORG of Prague. In Douala we go to greet the "new" Sisters of Bozoum, the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy. They welcome us with great joy. At 11.00 pm we leave again, this time flying to Paris. From there I continue toward Lisbon, where I arrive at 11.00 am on Saturday. I’m here in Lisbon, invited by Aid to the Church in Need, to talk about the difficult situation in Central Africa. Travel with me Sister Annie Demerjian who lives and works in Syria, a bishop of Nigeria, and Fr. Andreas that deals with the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Finding myself with such exceptional people, and sharing with them the passion for the Church and the faithfulness of so many men and women persecuted because of their faith is impressive. In Syria they live under continuous bombardment. Nevertheless in this sea of destruction Sister Annie and her sisters are able to help those in need, with joy and respect for human dignity. In Nigeria they live under the constant threat of terrorist attacks against churches (every Sunday there are massacres). It is a very difficult and threatening situation that touches me deeply. We often think, at least in the West, that martyrdom is something belonging to the past centuries; instead it’s a reality today for thousands of people, who continue to bear witness with joy to the beauty of the Christian faith! We wish that their faith and their sacrifice strengthen our own Faith! At my arrival I am welcomed by Catarina Martins and Felix Lungu, of the Portuguese branch of Aid to the Church in Need, and under the rain we move toward the North. After about 350 km driving we arrive, around 4.30 pm, in Braga, where we find ourselves almost immediately on the stage in order to present the situations of our Countries, Syria, Nigeria and Central Africa. The next day we go to a Shrine dedicated to St. Benedict (San Benito Puerta Aberta), where we celebrate the Eucharist with a great number of people praying for the persecuted Christians. We find here also a small community of Cistercian nuns, with whom we meet and pray. The same evening we drive to Fatima where we arrived around 11.00 pm. These are the days signed by big celebrations for the anniversary of the last apparition of the Virgin Mary on October 13, 1917. Here, in this small village of little or no importance, the Virgin appeared to three shepherd children, giving them the commitment to call everybody to prayer and conversion. October 12 morning: I go by myself at the large esplanade. There are still a few people, and I have the time to confess, pray, lighting up 3 candles: one for Central Africa, one for our Carmelite family, and one for family and friends. Around noon I celebrate the Mass in Italian, and here I find some dear friends from Italy. In the evening the prayer of the Rosary, followed by a procession with the statue of Blessed Virgin Mary. It's raining, but the square is crowded and it's beautiful and impressive to see such a faith. The day after, October 13, is the feast day. After prayer of the Rosary the Mass begins. We are 500 priests, twenty bishops, and a lot of people. We are blessed by a bright sun, and the celebration of the Eucharist is really solemn and participated with emotion. We end with a procession that brings the statue back to its place, and I find myself right next to the throne on which it is placed. In the afternoon we leave for Lisbon, where we speak once more about our Countries, in a hall of the Geographical Society of Portugal. On October 14 we deal with a number of interviews by TV, newspapers and radio, but we can have a couple of hours to visit Lisbon (the church of Saint Anthony, with his birth home), the cathedral and the monastery of the Jeronimos. And now I am in my way to Italy. I will leave Italy on October 20.
|La casa natale di Lucia, una dei 3 veggenti di Fatima|
la maison de Lucie, une des 3 voyants de Fatima