As he himself announced on March 15, 2022, the Pope consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during a penitential ceremony which took place on March 25, on the feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady.
This act, which was not really publicized by the press, on the other hand was very much followed in Catholic circles. The pope had in fact asked the bishops of the whole world to unite with him in doing it and having their priests as well as the faithful participate.
In Rome, nearly 3,500 faithful were present in St. Peter's Basilica, and around 2,000 other people were able to follow the retransmission of this act on screens placed in St. Peter's Square.
The ceremony began at 5:00 p.m. After the homily which focused on the feast of the day and on the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which he was soon to pronounce, the Pope himself went to confession, then, as he is accustomed to do, settled into a confessional to hear confessions.
Around 6:35 p.m., Francis stood in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which had been moved from the sanctuary dedicated to her in San Vittorino, located in the diocese of Tivoli, which is about 30 km from the center of Rome.
He then pronounced the text of the consecration which had been sent to all the bishops on March 22. The actual formula of consecration was as follows:
“Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine. Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world.”
“The ‘Fiat’ that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more. To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world.”
There is an apparent mystery about the text - which does not concern the formula of consecration just quoted. Indeed, by reading the complete document on the Vatican news site in various languages, it is easy to realize that the English version differs in several points from the other versions. For example, where English says “Queen of Heaven,” other languages say “earth of Heaven.”
However, the explanation is given by an article on the same site: “The expression 'earth of Heaven' is taken from a Byzantine-Slavic monastic hymn, and poetically signifies the union of heaven and earth that we can contemplate in Mary ascended into heaven with her body.”
It seems that many bishops joined the Pope in this act. In Switzerland, for example, the bishops, who were gathered together to conduct their business, acted collectively. In France, Jeanne Smits toured the dioceses and noted widespread participation.
Moreover, several episcopates had announced their participation, even before it was asked of them. It is therefore possible to affirm that the world episcopate associated itself with the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which was one of the conditions requested by Heaven.