Updated: May 10, 2021 09:24 AM GMT
Catholics in Macau participate in the traditional procession to mark the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. (Photo: mavenofmacau.com)
Authorities in Macau have decided to publish postal stamps of Our Lady of Fatima to honor the long-held tradition of devotion to Mary by Catholics in the Chinese-ruled territory.
The Directorate of Postal and Telecommunications Services will launch a set of two stamps and a block featuring the traditional, decades-old Procession of Our Lady of Fatima in Macau on May 13.
The date of publication coincides with the Church’s celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima commemorating the Apparition of Mary to three young shepherds in Fatima, Portugal, on May 13, 1917, when Mary asked the world to recite the rosary daily for peace in the world and for sinners to repent for their wrongdoings.
Church officials hailed the decision as a recognition of the Church’s important role in enriching society and culture in Macau.
The feast of Our Lady of Fatima followed by a nine-day novena was introduced by Portuguese Bishop Jose D. Costa Nunes of Macau in 1929 when the territory was under Portuguese rule.
Since then, the feast has become a signature annual Catholic event for Macau Diocese. Every year, many people from various parts of China and abroad flock to Macau to participate in the event that also features a colorful procession.
The procession was suspended last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and is expected to be held on a limited scale this year
The procession also features two girls and a boy attired in Portuguese traditional costumes, symbolizing the shepherds who witnessed the apparitions. With recitations of the rosary and singing of hymns, the procession makes its way from St. Dominic’s Church to the Penha Chapel, providing a very impressive scene, noted the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macau.
In 2019, Macau's government recognized the procession of Our Lady of Fatima by including it on its Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
The procession was suspended last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and is expected to be held on a limited scale this year. The island has recorded only 49 cases — all recovered and no deaths — from Covid-19.
Catholics in Macau number about 30,000 spread across nine parishes and Catholicism bears the legacy of Portuguese rule from 1557 to 1999.
The resort-cum-casino city has an estimated population of 680,000, mostly Chinese originally from various provinces, several thousand ethnic Macanese and foreign migrants including Portuguese, Filipinos and Vietnamese.
About 80 percent of people in Macau follow Buddhism, about 7 percent Christianity and the rest follow various faiths including Judaism and Islam, according to Pew Research Center.