A Special Passenger

by Patrick Sabat

The world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue – a most precious relic of Fatima – travels by plane between tours and is assigned her own seat.

“See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.”  Ex. 23:30

For 75 years, the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima has crisscrossed the globe as a “messenger of her royalty,” as Pope Pius XII stated in 1952, referring to her Queenship. It is such an honor to accompany the Pilgrim Virgin on this majestic journey to bring the experience of “mama Mary” to different places and even to those people whom we meet on the way to our destination. 

When we travel by air, I make sure the sacred image is safe in the cabin and not in the cargo. So I buy her a ticket with her own boarding pass and she sits right next to me. I put her in a soft-padded, zippered bag, buckled up with two seat belts. Once it is deemed safe by the flight safety engineers, attendants and pilot, I open the zipper for everybody to see this magnificent work of art. Of course, the overhead light has to be turned on to shine on her face.

Oh! Did I mention that she loves the window seat?

I chuckle when I say this because it is an FAA rule that an object should not obstruct anybody in case of emergency. In several instances, pilots and captains have announced shortly before takeoff that it is going to be a safe flight because of the special passenger, Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

This extraordinary scenario onboard the aircraft becomes a conversation starter for many people. So I put on my seatbelt and prepare for an evangelization mission, ready with Fatima-related literature and discussion points to those who show interest. Many times, passengers and flight attendants alike stop by for a selfie photo opportunity as soon as the seatbelt sign is off. These are on regular commercial flights, not chartered pilgrimage groups – so they are just ordinary folks travelling that day. The crowd is not just Catholics or Christians, yet the mood is always jovial and peaceful.

During one of my trip from Dallas, the flight purser got really excited when I told her the history of the statue. I was seated on the bulkhead near her station and we chatted quite a bit. Standing right next to my seat, she made references to me and “my Mother” during her pre-flight announcements asking me several questions over the intercom, like a Q&A or an impromptu interview with me, encouraging passengers to have a photo or talk with me for the duration of the flight. It was one of my busiest three-hour trips, to say the least!

For almost 20 years now since I started travelling with Our Lady, it has been quite a missionary venture and a soul-searching journey. Aside from the perks of being unexpectedly upgraded to business class and given VIP lounge access, the benefit of knowing that angels guide you to bring the message of hope and peace to this troubled world, to those in need of the Lord’s mercy, surpasses all challenges of travel logistics and the spiritual battle.

One only needs to recognize that indeed Our Lady is the Queen of Angels, and in this life, we do not travel alone as pilgrims. As she promised us at Fatima, “I will never forsake you, I will not abandon you. My Immaculate Heart will always be your refuge, your consolation, and the way that will lead you to God.”

To learn more about the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima and statue tours, visit: https://www.bluearmy.com/statue-tours/

Patrick Sabat is the Manager of the Pilgrim Virgin Tours for the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, and the primary custodian of the statue.

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