The world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue (IPVS) of Fatima is one of two “twin” statues sculpted in 1947 by famous sculptor José Thedim. The image reflects the precise instructions of Sister Lucia.
Her desire was that the pilgrim image represent Our Lady’s position when she revealed herself as the Immaculate Heart to the Shepherds in 1917. Our Lady of Fatima through the Pilgrim Virgin Statue, set forth from Fatima in May, 1947 to claim her dominion and become the Pilgrim of the World, carrying first to devastated Europe after WWII the message of peace. (This first statue was retired and is on display at the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.)
On October 13, 1947 in the presence of some 200,000 pilgrims at Fatima, the second “twin” statue was blessed by the Bishop of Liera, Fatima, and commissioned to serve as the Pilgrim Virgin who would carry the blessings of Fatima throughout the world. The Bishop prayed that Mary herself accompany the statue wherever it goes. The purpose of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue tours was and still is to bring the graces of Fatima and Our Lady’s message of hope, peace and salvation to those many millions of people who may never have an opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Fatima itself.
After the blessing in October, the IPVS was first brought to the United States by John Haffert, co-founder of The Blue Army, who had met with Sister Lucia previously to understand exactly what Our Lady wanted of the Catholic faithful. Together they composed the Blue Army pledge, and Mr. Haffert went on to spread the Message of Fatima worldwide, largely through the Pilgrim Virgin Statue tours.
In the intervening years, under the direction of the statue’s first custodian Rev. William C. McGrath, of the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society, the Pilgrim Virgin statue traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada.
In 1950, a Coast-to-Coast Fatima Pilgrimage took place, covering more than 50 dioceses in the United States.
It arrived at Fatima on May 13, 1951 at the close of the Holy Year designated by Pope Pius XII. Over a million people were at Fatima for this solemn occasion. During his radio address, His Holiness remarked: “In 1946, I crowned Our Lady of Fatima as Queen of the World and the following year, through the Pilgrim Virgin, She set forth as though to claim Her dominion, and the favors She performs along the way are such that we can hardly believe what we are seeing with our eyes.”
Rev. Joaquim Alonso, an official archivist at Fatima, said, “Never in the history of the Church have charismas descended in such abundance on the people of God as through the Pilgrim Virgin.”
On October 24, 1952, Pope Pius XII blessed the statue and imparted a special blessing on the work of the Fatima Pilgrim Tours.
Throughout the subsequent decades, John Haffert traveled worldwide with the statue, organizing peace tours. The most famous peace tour occurred on October 16, 1992 when six bishops descended on Red Square in Moscow carrying the Pilgrim Virgin Statue. It was crowned at midnight in front of Lenin’s tomb.
The statue has visited more than 100 countries, including Russia and China, bringing the great message of salvation and hope, “the peace plan from Heaven,” to countless millions of people. Many miracles and signal graces have been reported wherever the statue has traveled.
On September 1, 2014, the custody and mission of this world-famous statue was placed under the auspice of The World Apostolate of Fatima, USA – “Our Lady’s Blue Army,” and continues her journeys throughout the world with its principal statue custodian Patrick L. Sabat.