August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart. This may seem odd nowadays, considering the Feast of the Immaculate Heart is in late spring or early summer. However, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart was once celebrated on August 22nd – the Octave of the Assumption – for a period of about 25 years. Towards the end of World War II, Pope Pius XII, having already responded to the request of Our Lady of Fatima to consecrate the world to her, established this feast in 1944.
It was only after the revision of the liturgical calendar in 1969 that the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was attached to the feast of the Sacred Heart and now falls on the 3rd Saturday after Pentecost. As June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, August remains dedicated to the Immaculate Heart.
Devotion to Our Lady in this manner has existed for centuries, despite this more modern feast. And though the actual feast day was many weeks ago, we can still honor Mary during this month through other feasts.
The Assumption is commemorated on August 15th and the octave of the Assumption (August 22nd) is the feast of the Queenship of Mary. Other Marian feasts in August include Our Lady of the Angels (Aug. 2), Our Lady of the Snows (Aug. 5), and Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners (Aug. 13).
Just as there are numerous feast days in honor of Mary under various titles, there are numerous pilgrimage sites around the world dedicated to the Blessed Mother. On our Marian Shrines pilgrimages across Portugal, Spain, and Fatima, the itineraries are customized to the needs of the group but most often include visits to the shrines of Fatima and Lourdes, and others in Spain, depending on the route chosen.
On one of these pilgrimages, you could visit the site of the very first Marian apparition and the only one that took place during her lifetime. At the church in Zaragoza, venerate Our Lady of the Pillar and see the miraculous statue that appeared in a vision to St. James the Greater. Marvel at the grandeur of the cathedral in Burgos, dedicated to Our Lady. Ponder the inspiration found by St. Ignatius of Loyola at Montserrat, home to another miraculous statue and perched high above the city of Barcelona.
No matter which shrines you visit, or which pilgrimage path you follow, it is Our Lady who beckons you to follow her Son more closely and our prayer she would lead you deeper into relationship with Him.
But don’t just take our word for it. Some reflections from our past pilgrims who have experienced a Marian Shrines pilgrimage:
I enjoyed every holy place. It was everlasting renewal of faith and life experience.
There were many favorite moments. I was just happy to be close to Jesus and His mother.
I will be more devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is always more honor we can give her and more of our lives to entrust to her!
I hope and pray that through the grace of this Marian pilgrimage I will learn/grow in being a true spiritual mother.