Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. Ora pro nobis.
by Monsignor F. A. Kaiser, 1947
The quaint little village of Fatima, located in the rugged Sierra da Aire, some ninety miles north of Lisbon, Portugal, was selected by Divine Providence as the sounding-board of God’s own warning to a world that had gone astray.
It was in 1917, in the midst of furious warfare among the nations of the world, when Our Lady, the Queen of Peace, conveyed to three little children in six successive apparitions the saving messages from on high that told how to bring this terrible conflict to an end. Prayer and Penance, she announced, are the only and safest way to an abiding Peace.
The reports of these apparitions have been given the severest scrutinies and have been found trustworthy to the smallest details. Critics and unbelievers who were present at the great miracle of the sun on October 13, 1917, were unanimous in their expressions. This phenomenon, they declared, was overwhelming and the most outstanding in the history of the world. Seventy thousand people who witnessed this extraordinary prodigy were overcome with the fear of God and cried out to the Heavens: “God, save us and spare us. O Lord, forgive us our sins.”
A new light of hope evolved from the skies of Fatima to a world which was on the brink of destruction, which, if followed, might once more lead its people to an era of peace and prosperity.
William Thomas Walsh, an author of high repute, expressed himself in his new creation, Our Lady of Fatima: “I came home from Portugal convinced that nothing is so important as making known what the Mother of God asked in those apparitions of 1917 . . . The future of our civilization, our liberties, our very existence may depend upon the acceptance of her commands.” The acceptance, then, of the Apostolate of Our Lady of Fatima is imperative and challenges the world.
The First Apparition May 13, 1917
Our Lady of Fatima requests the prayer of the Rosary, Sufferings and Penance.
On Sunday morning, May 18, 1917, when the three little children, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco were tending their sheep near the Cova da Iria, not far from the village of Fatima, a cloud suddenly appeared over an oak tree upon which was standing a Lady of radiant beauty. Lucia, the star-witness of all the apparitions, gives us the description of the first scene in these words:
“A young Lady of dazzling beauty seems to be overshadowed by sadness; her hands are joined over her breast in an attitude of prayer; her dress, white as snow, reaches to her feet and is fastened at the neck by a golden cord, the ends of which fall to her waist. A white mantle, edged with gold, covers her head and falls to her feet; in her hands she holds a Rosary of shining pearls with a silver cross.”
“I come from Heaven,” she answered the children when asked who she was.
“Go on always,” she continued, “saying the Rosary as you have just done…. I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th of each month at this same hour. In the month of October I shall tell you who I am and what I want.”
And she continued: “Would you like to offer yourselves to God to make sacrifices, and to accept willingly all the sufferings it may please Him to send you, in order to make reparation for so many sins, which offend God, to obtain the conversion of sinners, and to make amends for all the blasphemies and offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary?”
“Yes, we should like that very much,” answered Lucy in the name of all three.
The Second Apparition June 13, 1917
Our Lady of Fatima requests the spread of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart with acts of penance and reparation.
On Wednesday, June 13, the Vision appeared on the same spot as the first apparition. Our Lady asked the children to return on July 13 and to recite the Rosary every day. Then, in conversation with the children, Our Lady confided a secret to the little ones. This secret, which is known as the first one, was revealed to the public at a later date and concerned the destiny of the three children and the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
Jacinta and Francis would not remain long in this world. For Lucy Providence had ordained a very special mission. When Lucy, the spokesman for the three, asked Our Lady to take them to heaven, the Blessed Lady replied: “Yes, I shall soon take Jacinta and Francis, but you must remain here for some time. Jesus wants you to be the means of making me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”
As the Blessed Virgin opened her hands, a beam of light emanated from Our Lady upon the children, who immediately saw a heart surrounded with thorns. They understood this Heart to be the Immaculate Heart of Mary, asking for penance and reparation for the numberless sins of the world.
At the close of the apparition there was heard a loud report which sounded like the explosion of a rocket, so witnesses claimed, and Lucy cried: “There, she is going away.”
All those who were present, although they did not see the apparition, were deeply moved by the mysterious events and most willingly joined the children in praying the Rosary on their way homeward.
The Third Apparition July 13, 1917
Our Lady of Fatima stresses the Rosary prayer and promises a great miracle on October 13. She requests the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart with Holy Communion of Reparation on the First Saturday of each month. A great promise upon the fulfillment of these requests is announced:
Russia will be converted.
Peace will come to the world.
The Immaculate Heart will triumph in the end.
When the Lady came on the thirteenth of July she again urged the recitation of the Rosary. Prayer! Penance! Communion in Reparation! These were the keywords. At this apparition Our Lady stated specifically that the recitation of the Rosary would obtain the end of the war:
“You must recite the Rosary every day in honor of the Blessed Virgin, to obtain the end of the war through her intercession, for only she can help you.”
The salvation of souls was Our Lady’s next concern. To this end the Lady again pleaded for prayer and penance.
Once more the apparition spoke: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often : “O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Then another secret was committed to Lucy. Concerning this secret Lucy writes later on: “In pure obedience and with the permission of Heaven”–the secret consists of three distinct parts–“I shall reveal the first two parts, the Vision of Hell, and the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The third must remain secret for the present.”
The Fourth Apparition August 13 and 19, 1917
The apparition is frustrated by radicals and fanatics–
but Our Lady appears a few days later.
Arthur d’ Oliveira, the magistrate of the district and a member of the radical movement, by intrigue prevented the children from being present at the Cova on August 13. They were committed to a public prison and threatened to be burnt alive unless they would recant their former statements. But not one of them would retract a single word. A doctor examined the children and declared them sane and of normal mentality.
According to reliable reports, strange happenings in nature occurred at the usual hour of the apparitions. Loud explosions, lightning; the sun lost its brilliancy, whilst a beautiful white cloud hovered over the oakbrush where on previous occasions the apparitions had taken place. The onlookers left the place, being satisfied that Our Lady had come but that the apparition had been delayed.
But on Sunday, August 19, when the children were tending their flock at Valinhos, Our Lady made her appearance. “Due to the wicked man,” she said, meaning the magistrate, “the miracle promised for October 13, will be less magnificent than first intended.”
Lucy now consulted the Lady about what to do with the money and other gifts left by the pilgrims at the place of the apparitions. That the wish of her Divine Son might be fulfilled, Our Lady directed that the offerings be used to spread the devotion to the Lady of the Rosary and that a new church be built in her honor.
Again the apparition ended with an urgent plea to the children:
“Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners. Remember that many souls are lost because there is nobody to pray and make sacrifices for them.”
The Fifth Apparition September 13, 1917
Our Lady of Fatima again urges the Rosary prayer and foretells the apparition of the Infant Jesus and St. Joseph. Rose petals fall from heaven.
The news of Fatima brought many onlookers to the Cova on September 13. For the first time the parents of the children were present. Lucy turned to the crowd and asked them to pray.
Toward midday the clear sky began to disappear and in the golden hue the stars were visible. A globe of light appeared and was advancing toward the Cova. Then the white cloud was seen nestling about the tree where the apparition had generally taken place. A shower of white flowers, as it seemed, was pouring down and vanished before touching the ground. Lucia was heard talking to the apparition.
Our Lady again insisted on the recitation of the Rosary dedicated to the Queen of the Rosary that the war might soon be ended. The promise of the great miracle which was going to happen on October 13 was renewed by Our Lady. This great miracle was to give testimony to all the apparitions at Fatima. St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus were to accompany the Lady at the next and last appearance, when the Lord would bless the people. Again the Blessed Lady promised an end to the war if her pleas for the frequent recitation of the Rosary were heeded. She also promised that in the future she would frequently come to this hallowed place to heal the sick in body and soul.
As the apparition was vanishing, the little seer cried out joyfully, “She is leaving . . . She is going up.” Most of the pilgrims saw the globe of light in the direction of the disappearance.
The Last Apparition The Great Day — October 13, 1917
Our Lady’s manifestation: “I am the Lady of the Rosary” Recite the Rosary fervently and frequently.–The Great Miracle.
All Portugal was aware of the miracle that was going to happen on October 13 as Our Lady had announced, to give testimony to the previous apparitions and to challenge the world.
The roads to Fatima were crowded with pilgrims on the day previous to the apparition. The day itself was everything but promising. It was wet, gloomy, and cold. Nevertheless 70,000 had gathered about the Cova. Precisely at midday Lucy cried out, “There is the lightning — see, she is coming — she comes; do you see her?” Lucy’s mother was kneeling beside her child and warned her of “seeing” things. Lucy knew better and directed a question to the apparition, “Who are you and what do you want of me?”
“I am the Lady of the Rosary,” was the answer. “I want a chapel built here in my honor: the Rosary must be recited every day. Men must amend their lives and must ask pardon for their sins. Men must no longer offend our Divine Lord who is already offended too much.”
At this moment the solar prodigy began and more apparitions in three successive scenes were being observed by the children. First they saw to the right of the sun the Holy Family, and to its left St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus, blessing the world. In the second scene, Lucy relates to have seen to the right of the sun, our Lord blessing the world and Our Lady of the Seven Dolors to the left of the whirling sun. In the last scene Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was holding the Scapular in her hand. It would not be too far fetched to interpret these pictures as vivid symbols of the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the Rosary which the world was asked to recite often in thoughtful meditation.
The Solar Miracle
The spectacular feature of the sun as it trembled, shook, and moved like a wheel of fire with a display of colors in a fantastic manner was seen by the multitude for a period of twelve minutes. All news-reporters have given testimony of this prodigy. Then this phenomenon came to a stop; but the display of fireworks was resumed after a moment’s lull. Again all calmed down only to be taken up again in more gorgeous colors the like of which the world had never seen before. This was the great miracle which was promised to prove the genuineness of all apparitions as well as a heavenly warning to us human creatures so absorbed in the things of this world. On this day, October 13, all witnesses of the spectacle were gripped and professed their belief in a God. “My God, have mercy,” was the cry of the multitude. This was the turn for the better for all Portugal.
Extensive Research Accounts were published by:
1. His Excellency, the Bishop of Leiria, Portugal.
2. Dr. Formigan, Professor of Theology at the Patriarchal Seminary at Lisbon, one of the best informed authorities, for he assisted discreetly at the apparitions of September 13 and October 13.
3. Rev. Gonzaga da Fonseca, S.J., Professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute at Rome.
4. Canon Bartha, who was highly lauded by the Holy See.
5. O Seculo, a Newspaper in Portugal. (3)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff
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