Saturday, October 14, 2017

Celebrating the Madonna di Fátima and some heavenly chocolate

Two important but very different events are taking place this weekend in Montecarlo. The first started Friday night with the arrival of the famous traveling statue of La Madonna di Fátima, or Our Lady of Fátima, in Piazza Garibaldi. The statue was escorted by the parish priest, Don Mario Avella, along with the Filarmonica Puccini di Montecarlo and a large group of city officials and residents, from the piazza to the church. It will be at the center of several church and community events this weekend.
The Montecarlo Filarmonica plays for the Madonna and the crowd.

At the same time, Montecarlo is hosting its 15th annual Festa del Cioccolato, with booths set up along via Roma to display multiple varieties of fine chocolate. It’s great to see that officials here are taking so much care to look after our spiritual, physical and emotional well being!

Deanna and Kori admire the chocolate.
Meanwhile, Lucy and I enjoyed the companionship of some fellow members of the Sons of Italy from Tacoma who are staying in the Albergo Natucci in nearby Montecatini Terme. We consumed a sumptuous pranzo at the Osteria alla Fortezza, right in the midst of the activities. We were in view of the imposing Fortezza di Montecarlo to the north and the chocolate festa to the south while we dined with Gina Natucci and her sister Kori and cousin Deanna, as well as Diana Folino Stewart and her granddaughter Hailey and Deanna’s husband Travis.

After lunch, we strolled through the displays of chocolate and enjoyed some free assaggini, little tastes. Which, of course, led to some purchases and bigger tastes, but not many, because we were still full from the long and delicious lunch. After our guests left, Lucy and I wandered into the park, where we found that for 5 euros, we could get a plate of five pieces of chocolate accompanied by two glasses of wine.

The statue of the Madonna is known as the International Pilgrim of Fátima because it travels around the world to Catholic audiences. It is the Madonna’s second visit to Montecarlo. She also came 50 years ago, and she is scheduled to return in another 50 years. She has special significance to Catholics because her appearance in Fátima, Portugal, to three shepherd children in 1917 was declared by the church a miracle worthy of belief in 1930—incidentally on Oct. 13, the same day the statue arrived in Montecarlo.
Chiesa di San Andrea, Montecarlo.

The statue has been placed in a prominent place in the Chiesa di San Andrea and a number of activities have been planned, including special masses, meetings of prayer, meditation and instruction, and another procession. Earlier this week, a lady from the church visited all the homes in town and gave us rectangular sheets of light blue cloth to hang in our windows to make the town more festive and to ‟help us prepare psychologically” for the event.

Lúcia Santos, Jacinta and Francisco Marto
The three children who witnessed the apparition of Mary were nine-year-old Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. They were herding sheep at the Cova da Iria near their home village of Aljustrel in the parish of Fátima. They said they were visited three times by an apparition of an angel. In the spring and summer of 1916, they said the angel, who identified himself as the ‟Angel of Peace” and ‟Angel of Portugal,” taught them prayers, to make sacrifices and to spend time in adoration of the Lord. Beginning in May of 1917, they witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary and described her as ‟the Lady more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.” The woman wore a white mantle edged with gold and held a rosary in her hand.

Blue sheets on a foggy morning to welcome
the Madonna
Lúcia, who became a nun and lived to age 97, said that the angel taught them to bow with their heads to the ground and to say, ‟My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.” Lúcia later set this prayer to music and a recording exists of her singing it.

We’re looking forward to seeing and maybe participating in that most Italian of events Sunday night, a procession through all the streets of Montecarlo with the statue. It will pass by our house at 49 via Roma, so if we’re too tuckered out by then to participate, at least we’ll have good view.

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