To the editor: Thursday evening and Friday morning will be a special time of grace for the parish of Divine Redeemer Church, Mount Carmel. From 6:30 p.m. Thursday until 10 a.m. Friday, the church will be honored by the presence of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue (IPVS) of Our Lady of Fatima.

Our Lady of Fatima is the name given to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who appeared to three children, ages 7, 9, and 10, on the 13th of six consecutive months in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal, a village 70 miles north of the Lisbon capital. During these visits, Our Lady asked for prayers and acts of penance on behalf of sinners. The younger visionaries, Jacinta and Francisco, who were brother and sister, passed away from a childhood disease a few years later; however, Lucia, the eldest visionary, became a religious sister and lived a holy and pious life until her death in 2005 at the age of 97.

The statue visiting Divine Redeemer parish is one of two replicas of the original Pilgrim Virgin Statue sculpted by Jose Thedim in 1946 under the direction of Sister Lucia. The original statue currently resides at the shrine located at the site of the apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. The second and third statues, also sculpted by Thedim and identified as International Pilgrim Virgin Statues of Our Lady of Fatima, travel to locations in the Eastern and Western hemispheres, respectively. The Western- based International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima first entered the United States on Dec. 8, 1947, and under the watchful eye of its custodians has traveled continuously to locations for the past 66 years. It is this statue that will be visiting locations throughout the Diocese of Harrisburg during November.

Many physical cures have been attributed to the presence of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue. In addition, the statue has often exhibited changes in expression, coloration and pose. Several events describing miraculous acts of devotion involving doves have been reported, and in July 1972, the local press of New Orleans reported that the statue had cried real tears. Most important, however, are the spiritual cures and gifts Our Lady bestows to those visiting the statue, most notably healings and conversions.

Special care of the statue is provided under the watchful eye of its custodians. The sole ministry of its present custodians, Carl Malburg and Patrick Sabat, is to spread the message of Our Lady of Fatima through talks, the distribution of scapulars and answering questions. It is a ministry of love to Our Lady that requires great sacrifice.

People of all faiths are invited to visit Divine Redeemer Parish to experience the graces of this holy and blessed statue of Our Lady. For more information regarding the history of the statue as well as the apparitions of Fatima, visit http://pilgrimvirginstatue.com.

Elaine Jurgill

Divine Redeemer Church

IPVS chairman