Rosary rallies celebrate miracle

Two local events will be held during Fatima Centennial

Two Rosary rallies will be held in Blair County next weekend.

Both are being held in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of The Miracle of the Sun, which occurred in Fatima, Portugal.

The 11th annual Altoona Public Square Rally will be held at noon Oct. 14 at Heritage Plaza, 11th Avenue and 14th Street. At the same time, a Rosary Rally will begin at noon Oct. 14 at City Hotel Park, 10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Tyrone.

The Public Square Rosary Crusade is sponsored by America Needs Fatima with thousands of rallies to be held across the United States. In 2016, there were more than 16,000 rallies.

Worldwide, Catholics in different countries will hold rallies and pray in their respective cities.

Sarah Zakrwski, a junior at Bishop Guilfoyle High School, is organizing the rally in Tyrone.

“Our nation is in great need of public prayer, repentance and conversion,” said Zakrwski, rally captain. “In the historic year of the Fatima Centennial, we ask God to save America through the Rosary of His Most Holy Mother.”

The Fatima phenomenon began on May 13, 1917, when three children, Jacinta Marto, 7, Francisco Marto, 9, and their cousin Lucia dos Santos, 10, claimed the Virgin Mary visited them. According to dos Santos’ written record, Mary appeared to them six times that year in a field near Fatima where they grazed sheep.

On Oct. 13, 2017, about 70,000 people gathered in the field to wait for an apparition of Mary, because the children has predicted that Mary would perform a miracle at noon on that day.

According to the account, it had rained early, but then the clouds parted and the sun emerged as a silver disk. The sun spun, throwing off rays of colors. The pattern occurred three times and then the sun seemed to tremble, shake, plunge and zigzag toward the crowd.

The apparition is said to have urged people to divert disaster through prayer and penance.

The apparitions were recognized by the Catholic faith as authentic in 1930 and Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who died in 1919 from the flu epidemic, were canonized in May by Pope Francis. Efforts are underway to beatify dos Santos, who became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005.

Fatima is now a pilgrimage site with about 6 million visitors a year.

Among those who have made the trip is Stu Sibold, captain of the rally in Altoona. Sibold said he and her daughter traveled to Europe in 2014 for her high school graduation gift.

People from all over the world were at Fatima, he said, with more than 10,000 people gathered in the evening at the plaza in front of the basilica. Holding lit candles, they said the rosary together, each in their native languages. He said the people on one side of them were from Malta and from Korea on the other side.

“The Fatima message is known worldwide. We got to see it firsthand,” Sibold said.

He said the message is to “take prayer seriously and to change our lives. The message has not changed since the Blessed Mother appeared to the three children.”

Sibold said people need to pray, make reparations, take part in the sacraments, attend Mass and teach others about Jesus Christ.

At the Altoona rally, the crowd will pray a Scriptural rosary. The Scripture makes it more meaningful and helps people focus on each Mystery in the life of Jesus, Sibold said.

Other prayers will be said, and a short reflection is planned.

In Tyrone, Zakrwski said: “All are welcome and encouraged to attend. All persons in attendance can provide prayer intentions that will then be included in the prayers.”

Ecumenical prayer will be said, as well. Refreshments and limited seating will be available.

Attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs for both rallies.