OUR LADY OF FATIMA
Today, the Church honors our Blessed Mother under the mantle of Our Lady of Fatima.
Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children experienced apparitions of the Mother of God on the 13th of each month at the Cova da Iria, land belonging to Lucia dos Santos’ family near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon, Portugal. Our Lady asked the children to pray the Rosary every day for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners and for the conversion of Russia.
She also revealed that all three children would suffer, especially from the unbelief of their friends and families, and that the two younger children, Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to Heaven very soon, but Lucia would live longer in order to spread her messages and devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
In the last apparition on October 13th and in response to Lucia’s question, the woman seen in the apparition revealed her name – “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”
That same day, 70,000 people had turned out to witness the apparition, including government authorities, following a promise by Our Lady that she would show the people that the apparitions were true. They saw the sun make three circles and move around the sky in an incredible zigzag movement in a manner which left no doubt in their minds about the veracity of the apparitions, which were approved in 1930 by the local bishop and the Church as authentic and worthy of belief.
The messages Our Lady imparted during the apparitions to the children concerned the violent trials that would afflict the world by means of war, starvation, and the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father in the 20th and 21st centuries, if the world did not make reparation for sins. She exhorted the Church to pray and offer sacrifices to God in order that peace may come upon the world, and that the trials may be averted.
The Blessed Virgin Mary gave the children three prophetic “secrets.” Sister Lucia revealed the first secret in 1927 – a vision of Hell and the souls that languish there. The second secret concerned devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, so that many souls would be saved and “a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
Pope Saint John Paul II directed the Holy See’s Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in the year 2000; it spoke of a “bishop dressed in white” who would be shot by soldiers, followed by the killing of “other bishops, priests, religious men and women, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.” Whether this vision is to be interpreted literally or figuratively, there are some who link a part of this secret to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.
What is the central meaning of the message of Fatima? – nothing different from what the Church has always taught. Before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated that the Fatima message is “the exhortation to prayer as the path of ‘salvation for souls’ and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion.”
One year after the apparitions ended, two of the children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, became ill. Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta followed one year later. They were beatified in the year 2000 by Pope St. John Paul II and canonized as saints on May 13, 2017 in Fatima, Portugal by Pope Francis I. The third visionary, Lucia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97.
We commemorate the feastday of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org, ewtn.com/fatima, and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Collect from the Roman Missal for Our Lady of Fatima)
“O God, who chose the Mother of Your Son to be our Mother also, grant us that, persevering in penance and prayer for the salvation of the world, we may further more effectively each day the Reign of Christ.
“Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”