We are celebrating 100 years since Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children in Cova de in Fatima Portugal, in 1917.
To understand this better we need to look at the condition that prevailed in Portugal following the turn of the 20th century. A timeline shows that in 1908 there occurred the assassination of Don Carlos the King of Portugal. What followed was the overthrow of the government in 1910 by a group of anarchist and freemasons with a primary objective to absolutely stamp out in Portugal and to do it within two generation.
By 1914 all of Europe was engaged in what was proclaimed to be the “War that would end all Wars;” World War I would have a devastating effect on Christendom, so much so, that Pope Benedict the XV called it the suicide of Europe.
In fact by 1917 the Pope in a desperate plea to the Mother of God, reached out to her in order to help bring peace with the following prayer.
“So let this loving and devout appeal rise toward Mary, the Mother of Mercy who is omnipotent by grace…. Let it bring to Her ears the anguished cries of mothers and wives, the lament of innocent children and the sighs of every generous heart. May her most tender and benevolent concern be touched, and may she grant the peace that we request for this troubled world.”
As a demonstration of his concern on May 5th 1917 one week prior to the first appearance of the Mother of God in Fatima he would add to the Litany of Loreto the invocation; “Queen Of Peace, Pray for us;” This would not be the first time nor the last that The Mother of God would respond to a Pope’s plea for help as related to the Fatima apparitions.
The first apparition took place on Sunday May 13th, 1917; on the very same moment in Rome the pope was conferring episcopal ordination on a young priest name Eugenio Pacelli who would later become Pope Pius the XII; He would play a significant role in the century long story of Fatima.
By 1930 The Apparitions at Fatima were approved by the local bishops and the Catholic culture of Portugal was preserved. On May 13th 1942 the 25th anniversary of the events in Fatima the Cardinal Patriarch of Portugal Cardinal used the word miracle to describe the profound transformation that had taken place in that country. Not only did our Lady promise that the Dogma of the faith in Portugal would be preserved it also kept them out of the Spanish civil war and the Second World War. We saw a similar causes such as in Austria following the WWII after nearly a decade long Rosary campaign Russian forces finally left. which wasn’t the case in Czechoslovakia or Hungary who fail to heed our Lady’s message at Fatima.
In the book “The Last Secret of Fatima” Cardinal Bertone quoting Stefano De (a member of the International Pontifical Marian Academy) points out that Fatima is different than other approved Marian apparition in four ways. The first is: in other approved apparitions of Mary there is a focus on individual piety, however in Fatima she presented the children with whole spirituality, centered on devotion to the Immaculate Heart.” The second way is that Fatima not only dealt with the Spiritual but there was also has a political and historical component to her messages; Mary warns us about the devastation of communism, state imposed atheism, about Russia, war & peace, the annihilation of nations and apostasy. The third is that our Lady extended her dialogue with humanity over an entire century. And fourth Fatima has not only influenced the piety of the faithful, but of bishops, and every Popes in the last hundred years;
Pope St. John Paul II. Who said that Fatima is as relevant today than ever before. Pope Benedict XVI said, “Our Lady’s call to conversion and penance, issued at the start of the twentieth century, remains timely and urgent today.” Her “insistent invitation” to penance, he said, “is nothing but the manifestation of her maternal concern for the fate of the human family, in need of conversion and forgiveness.” And Pope Francis has consecrated his papacy to our Lady of Fatima. And is there as we speak, on pilgrimage, and will canonize the two young children Jacinta & Francisco..
Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children, Jacinta 7, Francisco 8, and Lucia 10.
The first apparition: , All three of the children could see her, Jacinta and Lucia could hear as well, but only Lucia spoke to Her. Our Lady said to the children “Don’t be afraid” L: “Where are you from?” – “I am from heaven” “I came to asked you to come here on the 13th of each month for the next six months; Later I will tell you who I am and what I want. Then I will return here a seventh time.” L: “Will I go to heaven? And Jacinta? “”And Francisco?” “Also, but he has to pray many Rosaries.” Then Lucia ask about some young girls who had recently died from their area; “She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world.” “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God for the reparation for sins for which he is offended and for the conversion of sinners? “Yes we do.” “Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.”
The second apparition took place on June 13th 1917 of which time She asked them again to return and to pray the rosary every day, L: “Will you take us to heaven?” ” I will take Jacinta and Francisco to heaven soon. But you will stay some more time. “I want you to learn to read and write. Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.” Lucia appeared saddened; “ My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” She showed them an image of the Immaculate Heart with thorns piercing it.
The third apparition was on July 13th 1917; I want you to come here on the thirteenth of the next month, to continue saying the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war because only she can avail you.” Will you tell us who you are? In October I will say who I am, what I want and I will perform a miracle so everyone will see, so they will believe.” At that point the ground opened up beneath them::///// “You have seen hell, the “place where poor sinners go;” in order to save them God wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. If they do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war will come to an end. But if they do not stop offending God, in the reign of Pius XI a worse war will begin. Where you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that He will punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger and persecutions against the Church and the Holy Father.” “To prevent it I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparations on the First Saturdays. If my requests are fulfilled, Russia will convert and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer and many nations will be annihilated. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted and the world will be given a certain period of peace. In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will be always preserved. “Do not tell this to anyone.”
After each decade of the Rosary add the “O my Jesus” invocation.
The vision was broken out into three parts, the first part involved the vision of Hell. The second part had to do with the prophesying WWII, the conversion of Russia, if people didn’t heed her request. The third part of the vision had to do with the persecution of the church and the assassination of the Holy Father. This vision is what became known as the three secrets of Fatima; Sr. Lucia published the first two parts of the vision in her memoirs after being asked to by the Bishop and after Our Lady given her permission. The third part however Lucia did not receive permission from Our Lady to release it to the public.
After WWII Sr. Lucia felt she wasn’t doing enough to promote the messages especially that of spreading devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that she seriously thought about leaving the convent. That is when she was visited by a Layman named John who had an idea to help spread the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and in 1947 the Blue Army was created and Sr. Lucia was certain this was a grace sent by God. The International Virgin Pilgrim Statue begin touring the USA the same year. The Blue Army was elevated to an Pontifical Association of the Faithful, by Pope John Paul II in the late 1970’s and was henceforth called the World Apostolate of Fatima.
Pope Paul VI was the first pope to travel to Fatima on the 50th anniversary in 1967, Pope Pius XII was known as the Pope of Fatima both he and Pope JPII consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“In 1919, a small private chapel was built at the location where Mary appeared to the children. The first Mass was celebrated there in 1921. One of the additions to the chapel was a wooden statue of the Blessed Mother carved by José Ferreira . Despite numerous issues (such as the chapel being destroyed by TNT in 1922), the statue still remains currently outside a rebuilt replica of the chapel, behind glass, resting on a podium at the exact location of the oak tree at which Our Lady appeared for the apparitions.
One of the more interesting, if unknown, Catholic rituals involves the Canonical Coronation of Images. Popes may issue a Bull by which they command that a particular image, statue or other icon be “crowned,” with a physical crown, tiara, or halo of stars. There is actually a book published by the Vatican with instructions on the prayers required when the image is crowned, either by the pope himself or by an emissary sent by him. In 1946, Pope Pius XII authorized a Canonical Coronation of the wooden statue at Fatima carved by . While a papal legate made the trip to Portugal to actually place the crown on the statue’s head (calling her “Queen of the World”), the pope spoke in a radio address to those gathered, calling Mary “Lady and Queen of Angels and Saints, Patriarchs and Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs, The Confessors and the Virgins; … the Queen of the heavens and the earth, glorious, dignified Queen of the universe: Regina .”
So what began on the day of his episcopal ordination continued to play a part in his life twenty-nine years later, and not only then. Pius’ life intertwined with this devotion; he was known as the “Pope of Fatima” with good reason. The coronation may still have been on his mind when he wrote the 1954 encyclical on the Queenship of Mary, Ad Caeli Regnum. However, even six years before the coronation, his 1940 encyclical was the first occasion in which an official document from the pope referred to Fatima. He met with Sister Lucy on multiple occasions, which was an influence in his 1942 dedication of the whole world, including Russia, to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
Another event for which Pius XII is known is being the most recent pope to have made an infallible ex-cathedra statement, when he reaffirmed the Assumption of Mary as dogma in 1950. Even this has a tie to Fatima. In the days leading up to proclaiming it, Pius had witnessed on three occasions, in the Vatican Gardens, the same miracle of the sun that was seen in Fatima years before. He took this as validation of the proclamation. As if in confirmation, he saw it a fourth time, a week after making the proclamation, but never again; he admitted to going back into the gardens to see if it would recur.
Just eleven days prior to Pius’ death, one of the last bishops he appointed was ordained on September 28, 1958, the newly appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Kraków, John Paul II, elected to the papacy in 1978 – We are all aware of his closeness and affinity to the Mother of God. On May 13th 1981 feast of Our Lady of Fatima while touring St. Peter’s Square he was bending over looking at a girl who was wearing a pin of our Lady of Fatima when he was shoot. The bullet entered him miraculously avoiding any major organs and abruptly taking a sharp turn before exiting his body. The Pope was later quoted as saying that there was one hand guiding the gun and another guiding the bullet. He was rushed to the hospital an after loosing allot of blood and near death he was spared. ** 40 days later Our Lady began to appear to 6 children in a Soviet Block country of Yugoslavia called Medjugorje. She appeared under the title of Queen of Peace and told them that she is here to let them know that God exist. At the same time upon recovering the first thing The Pope asked for was the Third Secret of Fatima, and after a study of it, he was convinced that it was he who was the subject of it. At the same time Sr. Lucia on hearing of the assassination attempt immediately thought the same. In the hospital he thank Jacinta for….. Following his recovery he would make his first pilgrimage to Fatima one year to the date on May 13th 1982. Among 1 million pilgrims he thank Our Lady for sparing his life and had the bullet embedded into the crown that rested upon the head of Our Lady’s statue in Fatima. In 1984 he would have the statue flown to Rome and amongst collegial union with the world’s bishops would consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Lucia said that this consecration was accepted from Heaven and from that point forward we began to see the quiet implosion of the former Soviet Union; with the Berlin Wall coming down along with the Red Flag of the hammer and sickle over the Kremlin in Red Square.
On May 13th 1991 the tenth anniversary of his assassination attempt JPII made his second pilgrimage to Fatima to thank her for the peace transformation that has happened in the world. His third visit to Fatima was in the Millennial year 2000 in which he beatified the two young children Jacinta and Francisco, and at the same time had released to the public the first time the Third secret of Fatima. The bodies of the two young children were moved to the basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima.
On February 13th 2005 Sr. Lucia died at the age of 98, and 40 days later Pope John Paul II died in Rome.
Pope Benedict the XVI would write the theology of the Third Secret and have it published in a book called the “Last Secret” in which he wished to publish any material that hasn’t been published on Fatima through his Secretary State Cardinal Bertone. JPII assigned Cardinal Bertone in his capacity to go and meet Sr. Lucia and ask whether the text of the secret was authentic. As time as secretary he met with Sr. Lucia on three separate occasions. Cardinal Bertone said the decision to release the third secret of Fatima was made in order to avoid the “apocalyptic interpretation,” that was spreading especially toward the end of the millennium. Cardinal Bertone also presided at Sr. Lucia’s Funeral.
Benedict XVI said in the year 2000 “that just because public revelation has come to an end with the fulfilment of the mystery of Christ, “this does not mean that the church can now look only to the past…condemned to sterile repetition.” Rather authentic private revelations are like the “charism of prophecy,” which “explain the will of God for the present and therefore show the right path to take for the future.”
A final aspect of the Fatima apparition came to light in 1981 when Sister Lucia wrote to Msgr. (now Cardinal) Carlo at the Vatican to thank him and to assure him of prayers for the founding of the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family. In the letter she also related something she heard from Our Lady: a final battle will signal the end of the period in which we now struggle. Sister Lucia recounted Our Lady’s words as follows:
“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid, … anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. … However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.”