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 For Maria Meza, parishioner at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral in San Bernardino, having the pilgrim statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary visit the Diocese was a great gift. She believes the Immaculate Heart of Mary has impacted her faith over the years and she welcomed the opportunity to visit the statue.

 “The Immaculate Heart of Mary has transformed me and has helped me connect to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” Meza said. “This has led me to really know the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.”

 Wherever the statue went, steady streams of people walked in to sit, pray and spend some time before the image. Some parishes scheduled different groups to pray the Rosary, sing Marian hymns, celebrate Mass and hold adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Representatives of the World Apostolate of Fatima shared the story behind the image and the purpose for the pilgrimage.

 “She is an example that we should follow,” said Cecilia Ramirez Rubio, a  parishioner at St. James, Perris.

 When she came to see the statue she noticed the image was different and was curious to hear the story behind it. 

 “Another statue of Fatima came here before, but this time she looks different,” Ramirez Rubio said. “Her heart is exposed and she appears happy and smiling. It is beautiful.” 

 The statue is an image of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima as she appeared in 1929 to Sr. Lucia in Tuy, Spain. It was during this apparition that Our Lady asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Pope Francis blessed this statue on Oct. 23, 2013.  It was formally introduced at the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

 The faithful were encouraged to write their prayer intentions down and place them near the image. Others brought rosaries and holy cards to have them be blessed.

 “My prayer is that the Immaculate Heart of Mary might lead everyone to God and to feel His presence in their hearts,” Meza said.

 Georgina Aviles, a parishioner at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Indio, was able to see another pilgrim statue when it visited her parish during the last tour. This year she traveled from Indio to Our Lady of Guadalupe, San Bernardino to have a chance to see this new image.

 “Having her here is a blessing. This is a special statue,” Aviles said. “It resembles the way she appeared in Fatima. So when I see her here, it is like I am there.”