Pope Francis will hold an extraordinary prayer called a “consecration” for Russia and Ukraine next week, the Vatican announced on Tuesday.
The prayer is unique because it is connected to a belief in a 1917 prophecy of the Virgin Mary in Fatima, in which it is claimed she said that the consecration of Russia would usher in a period of world peace.
“Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated,” the prophecy reads.
The Catholic Church holds that Mary asked for prayers for the “conversion of Russia,” in particular for the “consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart,” saying that if this is done, “Russia will be converted and there will be peace.”
This special request of the Virgin Mary is known as the Third Secret of Fatima, for the name of the town in Portugal where she is said to have appeared to three children in 1917.
John Paul II was devoted to the Virgin of Fatima, as he believed she saved him from being killed during an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima.
On March 25, 1984, John Paul II consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but did not specifically mention Russia, leading some to suggest that the consecration had not been done properly.
Pope Francis will perform the consecration in St. Peter’s Basilica on the same date as John Paul II did, March 25, according to the Vatican statement.
On the same day, Cardinal Krajewski, the papal almoner, will perform the consecration in Fatima, the statement says.
The Pope has so far refrained from calling on Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to condemn the war, and he has not publicly condemned Putin or Russia by name, despite his fervent appeals for an end to the war. Other Catholic Church officials, however, have not been so reluctant.
Here’s what else religious leaders have said about the war: