The Fatima Sanctuary in Russia will be dedicated to the Icon of the Mother of God of Fatima, since icons are the natural way in which the Russians venerate the Blessed Virgin. That is why it is worth spending time to understand this icon. First, it is very important to note that while this icon was being created, I was in touch with the Carmel of Coimbra and Sister Lucia personally.The Fatima witness met and gave this icon her approval, although she died before it was accomplished.
We can say that there are two main images of our Lady of Fatima. One stands in the capelinha in Fatima. The other is kept in Coimbra. The statue of Coimbra is an image of the Immaculate Heart depicting the Heart of Mary visibly surrounded by thorns. The Icon of Fatima replicated this theme of the Coimbra statue in Byzantine forms, since the Blessed Virgin asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. In the Icon, as on the statue, the dresses have no drawings, only a very pretty valance that, according to Sister Lucia, must remind us that the Virgin in Fatima was always surrounded by the Light that is God.
The Immaculate Heart of Virgin Mary is portrayed in this icon in a special manner that took the iconographer a long time to design, so that the icon was “written” according to all the canonical norms of Russian iconography. So instead of depicting a realistic heart, the icon has in its center a medallion with a word “serdtse”, which means “heart”, written in Paleoeslavian characters.
It is not a Eucharistic medallion, as some have believed, but the very Heart of Mary.
Also in the Icon you can see the words “Toboiu Edinstvo” written on its left side, which means “by Thee [comes] the unity”. These words remind us that both Catholics and Orthodox believers are people who love the Blessed Virgin, and, what is much more important, the people loved by the Mother of God, who carries us in Her Heart.
The Icon was blessed by the Archbishop of Moscow Kondrusiewicz in 2006. Since then the devotion to it has spread throughout Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union. It is well known in Ukraine: the Archbishop Major of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church would present a copy of this icon to his illustrious visitors. In Kazakhstan in 2017 a copy of the icon toured all the Catholic parishes in the country and at the end of that journey all the bishops of Russia and Kazakhstan together with the nuncios and a papal legate consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother.
In Fatima the icon was received with great attention. A copy of the icon was blessed in 2007 by Secretary of State Cardinal Sodano before hundreds of thousands of people and on July 13 of each year it was put to the veneration of the faithful in the capelinha. When Pope Francis was visiting Fatima, this copy was placed in his room. In addition, more than one million copies of the Icon with prayers in more than 20 languages have circulated throughout the world.