Consecration of Russia
The Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by a specific act of a reigning Pope along with all the other Catholic bishops of the world was allegedly ordered in a Marian apparition by Our Lady of Fátima in 13 July 1917. Sister Lúcia dos Santos, one of the three visionaries publicly stated that at different times the Virgin Mary had given her a message of promise, that the consecration of Russia (as a country) would usher in a period of world peace.
The Vatican stated that Sister Lúcia declared to them in private correspondence during the 1980s that the consecration offered by Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square on 25 March 1984 had been properly accomplished and was “accepted in Heaven”.
The authenticity of this is vehemently rejected by some traditionalist Catholics, including those at Fatima Centre, namely Father Nicholas Gruner, Christopher Ferrara, the SSPX, among others, who support claims of parallelism to the alleged Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Akita in 1973.
In addition to this Consecration, Pope Pius XII (1942), Pope John Paul II (1984), Pope Benedict XVI (2010) and Pope Francis (2013) have consecrated “the world” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pope Pius XII verbally consecrated "the peoples of Russia" in 7 July 1952 via his Papal bull “Sacro Vergente”. To date, no ceremonial rite of Papal consecration has been specifically addressed to “Russia” per verbatim, nor invoked with the physical presence of the sum total of Catholic bishops present at the Vatican.
As with all Marian apparitions, the Roman Catholic Church does not require its members to believe any such claims if undesired, because it is not part of any core doctrine (also termed “Deposit of Faith”).
History and background
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Categorized as private revelation
The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church distinguishes between "public Revelation" and "private revelations". The term "public Revelation" finds its literary expression in the Bible and "reached its fulfilment in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ". In this regard, The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes John of the Cross:
In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word—and he has no more to say... Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.
In a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano regarding the issue, Sister Lucia pointed out that she had received the vision but not its interpretation. Accordingly, members of the Catholic Church are further instructed that Marian visions or apparitions do not take part in the “Deposit of Faith” or core doctrine, and is not required for religious belief if undesired.
EWTN, an American television channel that features Catholic programming, takes the position that such Marian apparitions are subjective to belief of free will and rendered as optional, not compulsory to religious faith.
Consecration of Russia
According to Sister Lúcia, the Virgin Mary requested the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart on several occasions.
Lúcia lived in Spain from 1925 to 1946, during the time of the Second Spanish Republic and the Spanish Civil War. Her first mention of the Blessed Virgin's request for the consecration of Russia is in the autumn of 1929. In 1929 Lúcia Santos was a novice at the Sisters of St. Dorothy convent in Tuy, Spain. Lúcia reported that on the night of 13 June 1929, while she was praying in chapel, that she experienced a vision in which the Blessed Virgin said that it was God's will that the Pope, in union with all the Bishops of the world, consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Sister Lúcia reported this to her confessor who asked her to write it down.
In two letters she sent in May 1930 to Fr. Gonçalves, her confessor, Lúcia linked the consecration of Russia with the Devotion of the Five First Saturdays, which she had first discussed in context of the apparitions she had purportedly experienced previously as a postulant at Pontevedra in 1925. (The Church has issued no decision regarding the reported visions at either Pontevedra or Tuy.
In August 1941, Sister Lúcia wrote her third memoir in which she described the apparition of 13 July 1917. She said that the Virgin told them:
"God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The [First World] war is going to end; if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the communion of reparation on the first Saturday's. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace. If not, she 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. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."
Objections by Russian Orthodox Christians
Orthodox Christians often see the Fátima consecration in the light of the history of Latin-Orthodox religious conflict going back a thousand years. They tend to interpret the Fátima consecration as an encroachment by Latin Christianity on Orthodox territory while Catholics tend to see the matter as followers of Christ vs. atheistic Communism. Orthodox Christians, including those of the Russian Orthodox Church object to the concept of the Consecration of Russia for two reasons:
- Russia was already Christian at the time of the alleged Fátima apparitions and had a long history of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (as Theotokos).
- Belief of implicit proselytism of Russian Orthodox Christians to the Catholic Faith. Orthodox Christians thus tend to understand the phrase "Russia will be converted" as implying conversion from Orthodox Christianity to Roman Catholicism and acceptance of papal infallibility and universal supreme jurisdiction.
Some Catholics who support the position of the Catholic Church claim that the apparitions at Fátima took place after the February Revolution of 1917 that deposed Tsar Nicholas II from power and the April 16 return of Vladimir Lenin to Russia.
In this regard, they assert that Russia was already in the midst of revolution and facing a renewed threat from Bolshevism when prayers for Russia were first requested by the apparitions in 13 May 1917. They argue that this timing of the apparition and the Miracle of the Sun suggests that the consecration refers to the threat that Russia faced from atheist beliefs and Russian Communism.
Inquiry of 1946
In 1946, during a gathering of youth at Fátima, Sister Lucia was asked by a young Russian girl, Natacha Derfelden as to how the conversion of Russia would be accomplished. Sister Lucia responded that the conversion of Russia would come through the Orthodox Church and "the Oriental rite", seemingly meaning the conversion implied reconciliation and reunion between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. A theological commentary written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger on the Fátima secret cites it as a “conversion of the heart”.
In Russian iconography
A religious image called the “Theotokos Derzhavnaya Orthodox icon” claims that the Virgin Mary is considered actual Tsarina of Russia by the religious appeal of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia; supposedly implying to a return of Russian monarchy.
- Consecration and entrustment to Mary
- Pope Pius XII Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
- Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Sister Lúcia, 1995, Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, The Ravengate Press, ISBN 0-911218-10-6
- Thomas Petrisko, 1998, Fátima Prophecies, St. Andrews Press, ISBN 978-1-891903-30-4
- Carmel of Coimbra, 2015, A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary: Biography of Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart, World Apostolate of Fatima, ISBN 978-0-578158-63-1
- Fátima Novena 
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- Quoted in "Russia Will be Converted" by John Haffert, President of the Blue Army, 1956, p. 204
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- "БУДЕТ ЦАРЬ! О РОССИИ ВЕРУЮЩЕЙ И БОРИМОЙ. Старец Рафаил (Берестов) » Москва - Третий Рим". 3rm.info. Retrieved 2016-08-11.
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- "Fatima in Sister Lucia's own words" – Free online version of the memoir book written by Sister Lucia, O.C.D.
- "The True Story of Fatima" – Free online version of the book written by Father John de Marchi, I.M.C.
- "The Secret Still Hidden: An investigation into the private campaign of the Vatican Secretariat of State to conceal the words of the Virgin Mary in the Third Secret of Fatima" (PDF). – Free online version of the book written by Christopher A. Ferrara.