The Pope's Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart was made before a statue of the Virgin of Fatima. The statue resides in the sanctuary of San Vittorino in Tivoli, east of Rome, and was brought to the Vatican for the special occasion.
In a letter to Pope Francis, published on their website on Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, Ukraine's Latin Rite Catholic bishops wrote:
"Holy Father! In these hours of immeasurable pain and terrible ordeal for our people, we, bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Ukraine, are the spokespersons of the unceasing and sincere prayer, sustained by our priests and consecrated persons, which comes to us from all the Christian people so that your Holiness consecrates our homeland and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"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 at Fatima.
"May the Mother of God, Queen of Peace, accept our prayer: Regina pacis, ora pro nobis!"
On March 15, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis responded affirmatively to this request and would consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, during a penitential ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on March 25, 2022, and that his representative, Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Papal Almoner, will pronounce this same prayer of consecration this March 25 at the shrine of Fatima in Portugal.
On March 21, Pope Francis sent the following letter to each of the Catholic bishops in the world, inviting them to consecrate, in union with him, Russia and Ukraine, as well as the Church and all humanity, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, thus responding to the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, as expressed on July 13, 1917.
"Dear Brother, nearly a month has passed since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine that is daily inflicting immense suffering upon its sorely tried people and threatening world peace. At this dark hour, the Church is urgently called to intercede before the Prince of Peace and to demonstrate her closeness to those directly affected by the conflict. I am grateful to the many people who have responded with great generosity to my appeals for prayer, fasting and charity.
"Now, also in response to numerous requests by the People of God, I wish in a special way to entrust the nations at war to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As I announced yesterday at the conclusion of the Angelus prayer, on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I intend to carry out a solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Since it is fitting that we should invoke peace with hearts renewed by God's forgiveness, the Act of Consecration will take place in the context of a Celebration of Penance to be held in Saint Peter's Basilica at 5:00 p.m., Rome time. The Act itself will take place about 6:30 p.m.
"This Act of Consecration is meant to be a gesture of the universal Church, which in this dramatic moment lifts up to God, through His Mother and ours, the cry of pain of all those who suffer, and implore an end to the violence and to entrust the future of our human family to the Queen of Peace. I ask you to join in this Act by inviting the priests, religious and faithful to assemble in their churches and places of prayer on 25 March, so that God's Holy People may raise a heartfelt and choral plea to Mary our Mother. I am sending you the text of the prayer of consecration, so that all of us can recite it throughout that day, in fraternal union.
"I thank you for the attention you will give to this request and for your ready cooperation. With great affection, I bless you and the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care. May Jesus protect you and the Holy Virgin watch over you. I ask you, please, also to pray for me. Fraternally, from Saint John Lateran, March 21, 2022"
On Friday, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, at the end of a penitential ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope pronounced the act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Earlier, he delivered a homily explaining the meaning of the ceremony. Here are some excerpts:
"If we want the world to change, then first our hearts must change. For this to happen, let us allow Our Lady to take us by the hand. Let us gaze upon Her Immaculate Heart in which God dwelt, our tainted nature's solitary boast. Mary is full of grace, and thus free from sin. In Her, there is no trace of evil and hence, with Her, God was able to begin a new story of salvation and peace. There, in Her, history took a turn. God changed history by knocking at the door of Mary's heart.
"Today, renewed by forgiveness, may we too knock at the door of Her Immaculate Heart. In union with the Bishops and faithful of the world, I desire in a solemn way to bring all that we are presently experiencing to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I wish to renew to Her the consecration of the Church and the whole of humanity, and to consecrate to Her in a particular way the Ukrainian people and the Russian people who, with filial affection, venerate Her as a Mother. This is no magic formula but a spiritual act. It is an act of complete trust on the part of children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their Mother.
Here is the Act of Consecration made by Pope Francis on March 25, 2022:
"O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
"Yet we have strayed from that path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars. We have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations. We have betrayed peoples' dreams of peace and the hopes of the young. We grew sick with greed, we thought only of our own nations and their interests; we grew indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns. We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives and to stockpile weapons. We stopped being our neighbor's keepers and stewards of our common home. We have ravaged the garden of the earth with war, and by our sins, we have broken the heart of our heavenly Father, who desires us to be brothers and sisters. We grew indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves. Now with shame we cry out: Forgive us, Lord!
"Holy Mother, amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life. He has given you to us and made your Immaculate Heart a refuge for the Church and for all humanity. By God's gracious will, you are ever with us; even in the most troubled moments of our history, you are there to guide us with tender love.
"We now turn to you and knock at the door of your heart. We are your beloved children. In every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion. At this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort. Say to us once more: 'Am I not here, I who am your Mother?' You are able to untie the knots of our hearts and of our times. In you we place our trust. We are confident that, especially in moments of trial, you will not be deaf to our supplication and will come to our aid.
"That is what you did at Cana in Galilee, when you interceded with Jesus and he worked the first of his signs. To preserve the joy of the wedding feast, you said to him: 'They have no wine' (Jn 2:3). Now, O Mother, repeat those words and that prayer, for in our own day we have run out of the wine of hope, joy has fled, fraternity has faded. We have forgotten our humanity and squandered the gift of peace. We opened our hearts to violence and destructiveness. How greatly we need your maternal help!
"Therefore, O Mother, hear our prayer.
"Star of the Sea, do not let us be shipwrecked in the tempest of war.
"Ark of the New Covenant, inspire projects and paths of reconciliation.
"Queen of Heaven, restore God's peace to the world.
"Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge, and teach us forgiveness.
"Free us from war, protect our world from the menace of nuclear weapons.
"Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and to love.
"Queen of the Human Family, show people the path of fraternity.
"Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.
"O Mother, may your sorrowful plea stir our hardened hearts. May the tears you shed for us make this valley parched by our hatred blossom anew. Amid the thunder of weapons, may your prayer turn our thoughts to peace. May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee from the rain of bombs. May your motherly embrace comfort those forced to leave their homes and their native land. May your Sorrowful Heart move us to compassion and inspire us to open our doors and to care for our brothers and sisters who are injured and cast aside.
"Holy Mother of God, as you stood beneath the cross, Jesus, seeing the disciple at your side, said: 'Behold your son' (Jn 19:26). In this way he entrusted each of us to you. To the disciple, and to each of us, he said: 'Behold, your Mother' (v. 27). Mother Mary, we now desire to welcome you into our lives and our history. At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ. The people of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, now turn to you, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice and poverty.
"Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine. Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world. The 'Fiat' that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more. To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world.
"Through your intercession, may God's mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of the 'Fiat', on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our 'living fountain of hope', water the dryness of our hearts. In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen."