Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops asked Pope Francis earlier this month to consecrate Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In a letter to the pope, the Ukrainian bishops said that they were writing “in these hours of immeasurable pain and terrible ordeal for our people” in response to many requests for the consecration.
“Responding to this prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to publicly perform the act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima,” said the letter, published on the bishops’ website on Ash Wednesday, March 2.
Following the bishops’ call, Our Lady of Fatima shrines worldwide were invited to unite in prayer for the conversion of Russia.
The appeal was made by Father Andrzej Draws, rector of the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima in Krisovychi, western Ukraine.
He encouraged all shrines in honor of Our Lady of Fatima to unite in prayer for the conversion of Russia on March 13.
Ukraine and Russia, the two largest countries in Europe by area, are both predominantly Eastern Orthodox countries with deep traditions of Marian devotion.
Yaroslav the Wise, the grand prince of Kyiv, dedicated his lands to Mary in 1037 and she has been known since then as “Queen of Ukraine.” Pope Francis used the title in his Angelus address on March 6, saying: “Let us pray together, as brothers and sisters, to Our Lady, Queen of Ukraine.”
Before the revolutions of 1917 that overthrew the Russian Empire and led to the creation of the Soviet Union, Russia was colloquially known as the “house of Mary” because there were more shrines and churches dedicated to Our Lady than in any other country at the time.