The 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council is not the only notable anniversary currently being celebrated by the Church.
Almost to the day 80 years ago, on Oct. 31, 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the Church and the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a radio message to Portugal on the occasion of the Jubilee of the apparitions of Fatima.
Ten years later, in 1952, Pius XII consecrated the peoples of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
However, few today remember that the request to renew the consecration actually came from the Second Vatican Council and was accepted by Pope Paul VI.
During the Second Vatican Council, 510 archbishops and bishops from 78 countries signed a request to the pope to consecrate the whole world, especially and explicitly Russia and the other nations dominated by communism, to the Immaculate Heart. Pope Paul VI, at the end of the third session of the Second Vatican Council on Nov. 21, 1964, entrusted the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In his speech at the end of the third session of the council, he said: “To your Immaculate Heart, O Virgin Mother of God, we recommend the whole human race; lead him to recognize Christ Jesus, the only and true Savior; preserve him from the misfortunes that sins attract and give him peace, which is founded on truth, justice, freedom, and love. “
That act of consecration was also significant in another sense.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Mary was subject to debates and openly contested at Vatican II. Some council fathers considered it an ancient, almost superstitious practice.
In his “Diary of the Council,” Father Yves Congar (1904–1995) noted: “I am doing the maximum possible campaign against a consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary because I see the danger of a movement in this sense being formed.”
The devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary spread widely after the apparitions of Fatima in 1917.
The request to consecrate the world to the immaculate heart of Mary was expressed in the second of the three secrets of Fatima.
“When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that he is about to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger, and persecution against the Church and the Holy Father. To prevent it, I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart and the reparative Communion on the first Saturdays. If they accept My requests, Russia will be converted, and they will have peace; if not, she will spread her mistakes around the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be destroyed. Finally, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
On June 13, 1929, Sister Lucia had a splendid vision of the Holy Trinity and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, during which Our Lady told her that “the moment had come when she wanted her desire for the consecration of Russia to participate in the Holy Church and his promise to convert her.”
According to Sister Lucia, Our Lady underlined that “the moment has come when God asks that the Holy Father make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising in this way to save her. There are so many souls that God’s justice condemns for sins committed against me, so I come to ask for reparation: sacrifice yourself with this intention and pray.”
Sister Lucia, through her confessors and the bishop of Leiria, managed to get the request of the Madonna delivered to Pope Pius XI, who promised to consider it.
Sister Lucia said that the Lady then complained to her that the consecration of Russia had not been realized. “They didn’t want to listen to my request. Like the king of France, they will regret it, and they will. But it will be late. Russia will have already caused her mistakes in the world, causing wars and persecution of the Church. The Holy Father will have to suffer a lot.”
The allusion was to the French King Louis XIV, the so-called “Sun King.”
In 1668, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque asked to have the Sacred Heart of Jesus applied to the royal banners. However, Louis XIV did not, and his dynasty fell under the guillotine with Louis XVI.
Sister Lucia wrote several letters about the devotion. Finally, on Dec. 2, 1940, Sister Lucia wrote directly to the pope, asking that he bless the devotion of the First Saturdays.
And so, on Oct. 31, 1942, in his radio message to Portugal on the occasion of the Jubilee of the apparitions, Pius XII consecrated the Church and the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
This was followed in 1952 by the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And it led to the request of the bishops of the council — and ultimately to the consecration made by Paul VI.