On the 8th of May, 1972, Don Stefano Gobbi was taking part in a pilgrimage to Fatima and was praying in the little Chapel of the Apparitions for some priests who, besides having personally given up their own vocations, were attempting to form themselves into associations in rebellion against the Church’s authority.
An interior force urged him to have confidence in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady, making use of him as a poor and humble instrument, would gather all those priests who would accept her invitation to consecrate themselves to her Immaculate Heart, to be strongly united to the Pope and to the Church united with him, and to bring the faithful into the secure refuge of her motherly Heart.
Thus a powerful cohort would be formed, spread throughout every part of the world and gathered together, not with human means of propaganda but with the supernatural power which springs from silence, from prayer, from suffering and from constant faithfulness to one’s duties.
Don Stefano asked Our Lady interiorly for a little sign of confirmation. She gave it to him promptly, before the end of that same month, at the Shrine of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
The origin of the Marian Movement of Priests stems from this simple and interior inspiration which Don Stefano received in prayer at Fatima.
Concretely, what was he to do? In October of the same year, a timid attempt was made, by way of a gathering of three priests, for prayer and fraternal sharing, in the Parish of Gera Lario (Como); a notice of the Movement was given in some papers and Catholic reviews.
By March 1973, the number of priests inscribed was about forty. In September of the same year, at San Vittorino, near Rome, the first national gathering took place, with twentyfive priests taking part, out of the eighty already enrolled.
Beginning in 1974, the first cenacles of prayer and fraternal sharing among priests and faithful took place. These gradually spread throughout Europe and every part of the world.
By the end of 1985, Don Stefano Gobbi had already many times visited the five continents to preside at the Regional Cenacles, involving a good 350 air flights and numerous journeys by car and train. He has conducted 890 cenacles, of which 482 took place in Europe, 180 in America, 97 in Africa, 51 in Asia and 80 in Oceania.
This gives evidence of how the Movement has, throughout these years, spread everywhere in an astounding way.