Our Lady of Fatima, history of a shrine

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A shrine to Our Lady of Fatima overlooks the Glenmary office building in Fairfield, Ohio. The marble statues, imported from Italy, started life at the old Glendale location.

Anyone who has visited the Glenmary Home Missioners headquarters near Cincinnati, Ohio, will have noticed the shrine to Our Lady of Fatima. Located in an open green space across from the main office building and adjacent to the parking lot is a set of six statues honoring Our Lady of Fatima.

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The Fatima statues were blessed by Archbishop of Cincinnati Karl J. Alter in 1954. This photo is most likely from the day Archbishop Alter performed the blessing.

It was 100 years ago this month (May 13, 2917) three little children in Portugal saw an apparition of Mary that would change the world. Our Lady of Fatima has grown into a global devotion—one that has reached as far as Glenmary’s headquarters in Fairfield, Ohio.

By now most know the story of Fatima. If you don’t, read it here. The short version is Mary, Jesus’ mother, appeared to three small children six times, beginning May 13, 1917. She told the children a great deal and the whole thing culminated with the famous Miracle of the Sun in October of the same year. The church declared the Fatima message as “worthy of belief” in the 1930s.

Glenmary Home Missioners have a special devotion to Mary. From the name GlenMARY to invoking her as patroness as Our Lady of the Fields, the Blessed Mother plays a major role in Glenmary spirituality.

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The Glenmary Residence can be seen behind this photo of the Our Lady of Fatima shrine on May 11, 2017. May 13 marked the 100th anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima.

Perhaps that was part of why the Walter Herschede family of Cincinnati chose to gift the statues to Glenmary in 1954. The set includes Mary, three children (representing Francisco and Jacinta Marto and Lucia Santos) and two lambs. They were created by a sculptor named U. Luisa de Santa Petra. It is made of marble. A report in the Glenmary archive noted the gift was given in the spirit of the Marian year of 1954 declared by Pope Pius XII, and as a tribute to Mary.

Imported from Italy, the statues were first installed at Glenmary’s original Glendale, Ohio location. The statues were erected in an open meadow across from the seminary entrance.  While in Glendale, the statues were blessed by Archbishop of Cincinnati Karl J. Alter during a special ceremony.

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Another view of the statues in their original configuration.

When Glenmary moved to Fairfield in the 1970s, the statues came too and were installed at their current location. The statues are among the first sights to greet visitors to Glenmary’s main campus, along with a statue of Father William Howard Bishop, which was also donated by the Herschede family.

The feast day of Our Lady of Fatima is Oct. 13. Many dioceses and parishes around the country are holding events throughout the year to mark the occasion.

If the photos don’t do the statues justice, check out this brief video below.


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