May 13, 2006, feast of the Apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal, marked the 25th Anniversary of the attempt on Pope John Paul II's life. Pope Benedict XVI stressed it in the address he gave on Sunday, May 14, 2006, before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square:
"A sure way of remaining united to Christ, as branches to the vine, is to have recourse to the intercession of Mary, whom we venerated yesterday, May 13, in a particular way, recalling the Apparitions at Fatima, where She appeared on several occasions to three shepherd children, Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia, in 1917.
"The message that She entrusted to them, in continuity with that of Lourdes, was a strong appeal to prayer and conversion; a truly prophetic message, considering that the 20th century was scourged by unheard-of destruction caused by war and totalitarian regimes, as well as widespread persecution of the Church.
"Moreover, on May 13, 1981, 25 years ago, the Servant of God John Paul II felt that he was saved miraculously from death by the intervention of `a maternal hand'
— as he himself said — and his entire Pontificate was marked by what the Virgin had foretold at Fatima.
"Although there is no lack of anxiety and suffering, and although there are still reasons for apprehension about the future of humanity, what the `Lady in White'promised the shepherd children is consoling: `At the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph'.
"With this awareness, we now turn with confidence to Mary Most Holy, thanking Her for Her constant intercession and asking Her to continue to watch over the journey of the Church and of humanity, especially families, mothers and children."
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima arrived from Portugal on Friday, May 12, and was received by the contemplative community of the Benedictine Sisters of the Mater Ecclesiae Convent in the Vatican. Then, at 5 p.m. that day, the statue was carried in procession to the Pope's private chapel; he was able to pray before it during the night and the following Saturday morning.
On Saturday afternoon, the statue was taken by helicopter to Castel Sant'Angelo, where it was received by some 20,000 pilgrims, led by Cardinal Ivan Dias, Archbishop of Bombay, India, who took it in procession to St. Peter's Square. The procession paused on the site where John Paul II fell after being shot by Mehmet Ali Agca in
1981. On the occasion of the anniversary, a stone was placed on that site with John Paul II's coat of arms and the date of the attack. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for Rome, then presided over Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.