St. Leo School and Church conducted a very special event on Friday, May 12 combining their traditional school May Crowning ceremony with a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s appearance to three shepherd children at Fatima.

On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary first appeared to three children in Fatima, Portugal, marking one of the most important events in the history of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis traveled to Fatima this Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparition, and to canonize two of the children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, as saints. The third child, Lucia dos Santo, is on track to beatification in the church, the first step toward canonization.

Thousands of faithful Catholics from around the globe are making a pilgrimage to Fatima this weekend to mark the anniversary and the canonization. St. Leo Pastor Fr. Justin Pino and St. Leo Principal Mary Detwiler decided that a special local event would signify the importance of this milestone to the children of the school, and the entire church community.

Three St. Leo students (Katie Petrosky, Isabella Beimel and Isaiah Nicklas) donned special, period-specific costumes to stand in as the three peasant children who witnessed the apparition. Fr. Justin presented the church with a special reliquary containing the wood from the tree where the apparitions occurred. The choir accompanied the procession with traditional hymns, and students made a presentation of flowers. Fr. Justin honored Principal Detwiler, who is retiring at the end of this school year, by asking her to place the crown of flowers on the statue of the Blessed Virgin.

In addition to the St. Leo student body, faculty and staff, more than 100 parishioners and other school supporters attended the special Mass and commemoration event.

“It was a blessing and an honor to be asked to place the crown,” said Detwiler. “The 100th anniversary of Fatima is a great moment in the history of the church. Fr. Justin did a wonderful job of making that real to our students and to our church community. We were thrilled with the turnout. That’s what this school is for, and I am thrilled that our children were able to be such an important part of it.”