The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on The Avenue at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods was erected in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Immaculate Conception. (This is a doctrine referring to the sinless nature of Mary from the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb. It was declared a dogma of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX Dec. 8, 1854. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated Dec. 8.)
The shrine, consisting of white Carrara marble statues of the Virgin Mary, the three Portuguese children and some sheep, was dedicated May 30, 1954, in memory of Mother Marie Helene Franey, general superior of the Congregation who died in office Nov. 23, 1953. Mother Marie Helene, who was elected general superior in 1948, planned the building of this shrine.
In 1917, near the town of Fatima, Portugal, the Virgin Mary appeared to three children in a succession of six visions from May 13 to Oct. 13. The appearances included a series of messages from the Virgin Mary. Today, nearly four million pilgrims visit the Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, site of the Marian appearances.
In 1930, the Catholic Church officially recognized the authenticity of the apparitions at Fatima.