Our Lady of Fátima

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Our Lady of Fátima

Our Lady of Fátima in the Chapel of Appartions
Location Fátima, Portugal
Date 13 May - 13 October 1917
Witness Lúcia Santos
Jacinta and Francisco Marto
Type Marian apparition
Holy See approval 1930, during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI
Shrine Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, Fátima, Portugal

Our Lady of Fátima (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora de Fátima,European Portuguese: [ˈnɔsɐ sɨˈɲoɾɐ dɨ ˈfatimɐ][1]) is a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary based on purported apparitions to three shepherd children at Fátima, Portugal, on the thirteenth day of six consecutive months in 1917, beginning on May 13. The three children were Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

The title of Our Lady of the Rosary is also sometimes used to refer to the same apparition (although it was first used in 1208 for the reputed apparition in the church of Prouille), because the children related that the apparition called herself the "Lady of the Rosary". It is also common to see a combination of these titles, i.e. Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima (Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima).

The events at Fátima gained particular fame due to perceived elements of secrets, prophecy and eschatology, particularly with regards to World War II and possible world wars in the future. Chief among these is also the alleged urgent need for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The reported apparitions at Fátima were officially declared "worthy of belief" by the Catholic Church.

The Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto in the apparitions of Pontevedra.

History[edit]

Location of Fátima, Portugal.

Initial apparitions[edit]

In the spring and summer of 1916, three children, Lucia Santos and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, claimed to have experienced the visitation of an angel on three separate occasions. The angel appeared to them as they watched their sheep, taught them specific prayers to pray, to make sacrifices, and to spend time in adoration of the Lord.[2]

On May 13, 1917, ten year old Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima, Portugal. Lúcia described seeing a woman "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun". Astonished they ran back to their village and told everyone.[3] Further appearances were reported to have taken place on the thirteenth day of the month in June and July. In these, the woman asked the children to do penance and Acts of Reparation as well as making personal sacrifices to save sinners. The children subsequently wore tight cords around their waists to cause themselves pain, performed self-flagellation using stinging nettles, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance.[citation needed] According to Lúcia's account, in the course of her appearances, the woman confided to the children three secrets, now known as the Three Secrets of Fátima.

Thousands of people flocked to Fátima and Aljustrel in the following months, drawn by reports of visions and miracles. On August 13, 1917, the provincial administrator Artur Santos[4] (no relation to Lúcia Santos), believing that the events were politically disruptive, intercepted and jailed the children before they could reach the Cova da Iria that day. Prisoners held with them in the provincial jail later testified that the children, while upset, were first consoled by the inmates, and later led them in praying the rosary. The administrator interrogated the children and tried unsuccessfully to get them to divulge the contents of the secrets. In the process, he threatened the children, saying he would boil them in a pot of oil, one by one unless they confessed. The children refused, but Lúcia told him everything short of the secrets, and offered to ask the Lady for permission to tell the Administrator the secrets.[5] That month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iria on the 13th, the children reported that they saw the Virgin Mary on 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption, at nearby Valinhos.[3]

Miracle of the Sun[edit]

Chapel of Apparitions, built at the place where the Fátima apparitions were reported
Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary.

As early as July 1917 it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on October 13, so that all would believe. What happened then became known as the "Miracle of the Sun". A crowd believed to number approximately 70,000,[6] including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. The incessant rain had finally ceased and a thin layer of clouds cloaked the silver disc of the sun. Lúcia, moved by what she said was an interior impulse, called out to the crowd to look at the sun. Witnesses later spoke of the sun appearing to change colors and rotate like a wheel.[7] Not everyone saw the same things, and witnesses gave widely varying descriptions of the "sun's dance". The phenomenon is claimed to have been witnessed by most people in the crowd as well as people many miles away.[7] While the crowd was staring at the sun, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta said later they were seeing lovely images of the Holy Family, Our Lady of Sorrows with Jesus Christ, and then Our Lady of Mount Carmel. They said they saw Saint Joseph and Jesus bless the people.[8] The children were aged 10, 9, and 7 at the time.

Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século (Portugal's most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical),[3] reported the following: "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people."[9] Eye specialist Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho, writing for the newspaper Ordem reported "The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceeding fast and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat".[10] The special reporter for the October 17, 1917 edition of the Lisbon daily, O Dia, reported the following, "...the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy purple light was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds...The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands...people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they."[11]

No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was registered by scientists at the time.[3] According to contemporary reports from poet Afonso Lopes Vieira and schoolteacher Delfina Lopes with her students and other witnesses in the town of Alburita, the solar phenomenon was visible from up to forty kilometers away. Not all witnesses reported seeing the sun "dance". Some people only saw the radiant colors, and others, including some believers, saw nothing at all.[12][13]

Since no scientifically verifiable physical cause can be adduced to explain the phenomenon of the sun, various explanations have been advanced to explain the descriptions given by numerous witnesses. A leading conjecture is a mass hallucination possibly stimulated by the religious fervor of the crowds expectantly waiting for a predicted sign. Another conjecture is a possible visual artifact caused by looking at the sun for a prolonged period. As noted by Auguste Meessen, a professor at the Institute of Physics, Catholic University of Leuven, looking directly at the Sun can cause phosphene visual artifacts and temporary partial blindness. He has proposed that the reported observations were optical effects caused by prolonged staring at the sun. Meessen contends that retinal after-images produced after brief periods of sun gazing are a likely cause of the observed dancing effects. Similarly Meessen states that the colour changes witnessed were most likely caused by the bleaching of photosensitive retinal cells.[14] Meessen observes that solar miracles have been witnessed in many places where religiously charged pilgrims have been encouraged to stare at the sun. He cites the apparitions at Heroldsbach, Bavaria, Germany (1949) as an example where exactly the same optical effects as at Fátima were witnessed by more than 10,000 people.[14]

There is no evidence that people who came to Fátima, even those expecting a miracle, were staring at the sun before Lúcia spoke. Most would have been focused on the tree where the children said the apparition appeared. Some onlookers reported other phenomena, including luminous mist and the showers of flower petals seen around and above the tree during previous visitations.

In addition to the Miracle of the Sun, the seers at Fátima indicated that the apparition prophesied a great sign in the night sky which would precede a second great war.[15][16] On January 25, 1938, bright lights, an aurora borealis appeared all over the northern hemisphere, including in places as far south as North Africa, Bermuda and California.[15][16] It was the widest occurrence of the aurora since 1709[17] and people in Paris and elsewhere believed a great fire was burning and fire departments were called.[18] Lúcia, the sole surviving seer at the time, indicated that it was the sign foretold and so apprised her superior and the bishop in letters the following day.[15][16] Just over a month later, Hitler seized Austria and eight months later invaded Czechoslovakia.[15][16]

Three Secrets of Fátima[edit]

First two secrets[edit]

Lúcia Santos (left) with her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, 1917

The first secret was a vision of hell, which Lúcia describes in her Third Memoir, as follows:

"Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror."[19]

The second secret included Mary's instructions on how to save souls from hell and convert the world to the Christian faith, also revealed by Lúcia in her Third Memoir:

"I have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."[20]

Fate of the three children[edit]

Statue depicting the Immaculate Heart of Mary as described by Sister Lúcia.

Beginning in the 1920s, Sister Lúcia became a nun of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy. Sister Lúcia's cousins, the siblings Francisco (1908–1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910–1920), were both victims of the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-20. Francisco and Jacinta were declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in a public ceremony at Fátima on May 13, 1989. He returned there on May 13, 2000 to declare them 'blessed' (a title of veneration below that of sainthood; see Canonization). Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.

Sister Lúcia reported seeing the Virgin Mary again in 1925 at the Dorothean convent at Pontevedra, Galicia (Spain). This time she said she was asked to convey the message of the First Saturday Devotions. By her account a subsequent vision of Christ as a child reiterated this request.

Sister Lúcia became a postulant at the Dorothean convent in Tui or Tuy, Galicia in 1928. In 1929, Sister Lúcia reported that Mary returned and repeated her request for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

Sister Lúcia reportedly saw Mary in private visions periodically throughout her life. Most significant was the apparition in Rianxo, Galicia, in 1931, in which she said that Jesus visited her, taught her two prayers and delivered a message to give to the church's hierarchy.

In 1947, Sister Lúcia left the Dorothean order and joined the Discalced Carmelite order in a monastery in Coimbra, Portugal. Lúcia died on February 13, 2005, at the age of 97. After her death, the Vatican, specifically Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and later to become Pope Benedict XVI), ordered her cell sealed off. It is believed this was because Sister Lúcia had continued to receive more revelations and the evidence needed to be examined in the course of proceedings for her possible canonization.[21]

In 1936 and again in 1941, Sister Lúcia claimed that the Virgin Mary had predicted the deaths of two of the children during the second apparition on June 13, 1917. Besides Lúcia's account, the testimony of Olímpia Marto (mother of the two younger children) and several others state that her children did not keep this information secret and ecstatically predicted their own deaths many times to her and to curious pilgrims.[22] In fact, it was the first thing Jacinta told her mother when she spoke to her after the initial apparition.[23] According to the 1941 account, on 13 June, Lúcia asked the Virgin if the three children would go to heaven when they died. She said that she heard Mary reply, "Yes, I shall take Francisco and Jacinta soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on Earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart."[24]

Exhumed in 1935 and again in 1951, Jacinta's face was found incorrupt or immune to decay. Francisco's body, however, had decomposed.[25]

Consecration of Russia[edit]

Statue of Pope Pius XII in Fátima, Portugal. Just as a few years ago We consecrated the entire human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, so today We consecrate and in a most special manner We entrust all the peoples of Russia to this Immaculate Heart...

According to Sister Lúcia, the Virgin Mary promised that the Consecration of Russia would lead to Russia's conversion and an era of peace.[3]

Pope Pius XII, in his Apostolic Letter Sacro Vergente of 7 July 1952, consecrated Russia to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pius XII wrote,

Just as a few years ago We consecrated the entire human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, so today We consecrate and in a most special manner We entrust all the peoples of Russia to this Immaculate Heart...[26]

In 1952 the Pope said to the Russian people and the Stalinist regime that the Virgin Mary was always victorious. "The gates of hell will never prevail, where she offers her protection. She is the good mother, the mother of all, and it has never been heard, that those who seek her protection, will not receive it. With this certainty, the Pope dedicates all people of Russia to the immaculate heart of the Virgin. She will help! Error and atheism will be overcome with her assistance and divine grace." [27]

Popes Pius XII and John Paul II both had special relations to Our Lady of Fátima. Pope Benedict XV began Pacelli's church career, elevating him to archbishop in the Sistine Chapel on May 13, 1917, the date of the first reported apparition. Pius XII was laid to rest in the crypt of Saint Peter's Basilica on October 13, 1958, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima.

Pope John Paul II again consecrated the entire world to the Virgin Mary in 1984, without explicitly mentioning Russia. Some believe that Sister Lúcia verified that this ceremony fulfilled the requests of the Virgin Mary.[28] However, in the Blue Army's Spanish magazine, Sol de Fátima, in the September 1985 issue, Sister Lúcia said that the ceremony did not fulfill the Virgin Mary's request, as there was no specific mention of Russia, and "many bishops attached no importance to it." In 2001, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone issued a statement, claiming that he had met with Sister Lúcia, who reportedly told him, "I have already said that the consecration desired by Our Lady was made in 1984, and has been accepted in Heaven." Sister Lúcia died on February 13, 2005, without making any public statement of her own to settle the issue.

Some maintain that, according to Lúcia and Fátima advocates such as Abbé Georges de Nantes, Fr. Paul Kramer and Nicholas Gruner, Russia has never been specifically consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by any Pope simultaneously with all the world's bishops, which is what Lúcia in the 1985 interview had said Mary had asked for.[29][30][31]

However, by letters of August 29, 1989 and July 3, 1990, she stated that the consecration had been completed; indeed in the 1990 letter in response to a question by Rev. Father Robert J. Fox, she confirmed:

I come to answer your question, "If the consecration made by Pope John Paul II on March 25, 1984 in union with all the bishops of the world, accomplished the conditions for the consecration of Russia according to the request of Our Lady in Tuy on June 13 of 1929?" Yes, it was accomplished, and since then I have said that it was made.

And I say that no other person responds for me, it is I who receive and open all letters and respond to them.[32]

In the meantime, the conception of Theotokos Derzhavnaya Orthodox Christian venerated icon points out that Virgin Mary is considered actual Tsarina of Russia by the religious appeal of Nicholas II thus Consecration of Russia may refer to return of Russian monarchy.

Third Secret[edit]

The third secret, a vision of the death of the Pope and other religious figures, was transcribed by the Bishop of Leiria and reads:

"After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!' And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God."[33]

Controversy around the Third Secret[edit]

The Vatican withheld the Third Secret until 26 June 2000, despite Lúcia's declaration that it could be released to the public after 1960. Some sources, including Canon Barthas and Cardinal Ottaviani, said that Lúcia insisted to them it must be released by 1960, saying that, "by that time, it will be more clearly understood", and, "because the Blessed Virgin wishes it so."[34][35] When 1960 arrived, rather than releasing the Third Secret, the Vatican published an official press release stating that it was "most probable the Secret would remain, forever, under absolute seal."[36] After this announcement, immense speculation over the content of the secret materialized. According to the New York Times, speculation over the content of the secret ranged from "worldwide nuclear annihilation to deep rifts in the Roman Catholic Church that lead to rival papacies."[37]

Some sources claim that the four-page, handwritten text[38] of the Third Secret released by the Vatican in the year 2000 is not the real secret, or at least not the full secret.[39][40][41][42] In particular, it is alleged that Cardinals Bertone, Ratzinger and Sodano engaged in a systematic deception to cover-up the existence of a one-page document containing the so-called words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which some believe contains information about the Apocalypse and a great apostasy. These sources contend that the Third Secret actually comprises two texts, where one of these texts is the published four-page vision, and the other is a single-page letter allegedly containing the words of the Virgin Mary which has been concealed.[39][40][41]

The Vatican has maintained its position that the full text of the Third Secret was published in June 2000. According to a December 2001 Vatican press release (subsequently published in L'Osservatore Romano), Lúcia told then Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone in an interview that the secret had been completely revealed and published - that no secrets remained.[43][44][45] Bertone, along with Cardinal Ratzinger, co-authored The Message of Fátima,[38] the document published in June 2000 by the Vatican that allegedly contains a scanned copy of the original text of the Third Secret.

During his apostolic visit to Portugal between May 11 and 14, 2010 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto,[46] Pope Benedict XVI explained in a rare conversation with reporters that the interpretation of the third secret did not stop with the interpretation of a prediction of the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square in 1981. The Third Secret of Fátima, said Benedict XVI, "has a permanent and ongoing significance" and that "its significance could even be extended to include the suffering the Church is going through today as a result of the recent reports of sexual abuse involving the clergy".[47]

Fátima prayers and reparations[edit]

Many Roman Catholics recite prayers based on Our Lady of Fátima. Lúcia later said that, in 1916, she and her cousins had several visions of an angel calling himself the "Angel of Portugal" and the "Angel of Peace" who taught them to bow with their heads to the ground and to say "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you." Lúcia later set this prayer to music and a recording exists of her singing it.[48] It was also said that sometime later the angel returned and taught them a eucharistic devotion now known as the Angel Prayer.[49][50]

Lúcia said that the Lady emphasized Acts of Reparation and prayers to console Jesus for the sins of the world. Lúcia said that Mary's words were "When you make some sacrifice, say 'O Jesus, it is for your love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'" At the first apparition, Lúcia wrote, the children were so moved by the radiance they perceived that they involuntarily said "Most Holy Trinity, I adore you! My God, my God, I love you in the Most Blessed Sacrament."[51] Lúcia also said that she heard Mary ask for these words to be added to the Rosary after the Gloria Patri prayer: "O my Jesus, pardon us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need."[52]

In the tradition of Marian visitations, the "conversion of sinners" is not necessarily religious conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, for that would be the "conversion of heretics or apostates who are 'outside the church and alien to the Christian Faith' according to Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical on the Unity of the Church, Satis Cognitum". Conversion of sinners refers to general repentance and attempt to amend one's life according to the teachings of Jesus for those True Catholics who do profess the faith truly, but are fallen into sins. Lúcia wrote that she and her cousins defined "sinners" not as non-Catholics but as those who had fallen away from the church or, more specifically, willfully indulged in sinful activity, particularly "sins of the flesh"[53] and "acts of injustice and a lack of charity towards the poor, widows and orphans, the ignorant and the helpless" which she said were even worse than sins of impurity.[54]

Pilgrimage[edit]

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is one of the largest Marian shrines in the world.

An estimated 70,000 people assembled to witness the last of the promised appearances of the Lady in the Cova da Iria on October 13, 1917. The widely reported miracle of the sun was a factor that led to Fátima quickly becoming a major centre of pilgrimage. Two million pilgrims visited the site in the decade following the events of 1917.[55] A small chapel - the Capelinha - was built by local people on the site of the apparitions. The construction was neither encouraged nor hindered by the Catholic Church authorities. On May 13, 1920, pilgrims defied government troops to install a statue of the Virgin Mary in the chapel,[56] and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was first officially celebrated there in January 1924. A hostel for the sick was begun in that year. In 1927 the first rector of the sanctuary was appointed and a set of Stations of the Cross were erected on the mountain road. The foundation stone for the present basilica was laid the next year.[57]

1930 was the year both of official church recognition of the apparition events as "worthy of belief" and the granting of a papal indulgence to pilgrims visiting Fátima. In 1935 the bodies of the visionaries Jacinta and Francisco were reinterred in the basilica. The coronation of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima there in 1946 drew such large crowds that the entrance to the site had to be barred.[58]

Today pilgrimage to the site goes on all year round and additional chapels, hospitals and other facilities have been constructed. The principal pilgrimage festivals take place on the thirteenth day of each month, from May to October, on the anniversaries of the original appearances. The largest crowds gather on 13 May and 13 October, when up to a million pilgrims have attended to pray and witness processions of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima, both during the day and by the light of tens of thousands of candles at night.[59]

Political aspects[edit]

The devotion to Our Lady of Fatima in the Roman Catholic Church has a long history of association with rightist and even fascist groups. This is attributable to the timing of the publication of Sister Lucia’s Memoirs after the outbreak of WW II and the focus on Russia and “her errors” in the alleged messages of the Lady. The Blue Army of Our Lady, for instance, has always been strongly anti-Communist and often put the Fatima story into the context of the Cold War. The Blue Army is made up of Catholics and non-Catholics who believe that by dedicating themselves to daily prayer (specifically, of the Rosary) they can help to achieve world peace and put an end to the error of communism.

Our Lady of Fatima was often presented in Catholic literature as leading a crusade against Communism. As the forces of the Republic gathered strength in Spain, the Virgin Mary was to be found leading the armies of the faithful ranged against the Godless."[60] During the Spanish Second Republic, the Virgin Mary would be seen on Spanish soil at Ezquioga. Ramona Olazabal insisted Mary had marked the palms of her hands with a sword. Seers gained much credence in Integrist and Carlist circles. The visions at Ezquioga were widely covered in the press, as were the sixteen other visitations of the Virgin to Spain in 1931. Conservative elements in the Spanish Church actively encouraged the Fatima devotion as a way of countering the perceived threat of atheistic Communism. In Portugal and its former colony of Brazil, Fatima and right-wing groups were also strongly identified. When Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, many Catholics interpreted this in terms of the Fatima apparitions thinking the Virgin's prophecy at long last was about to be fulfilled. Some Catholics willingly joined the fight and Spain sent a Catholic Blue Division to the Eastern front.

Official position of the Catholic Church[edit]

Inside the Basilica of the Rosary

Private revelations do not form part of the deposit of faith of the Catholic Church, and its members are not bound to believe in any of them. However, as a matter of prudence, assent would normally be expected of a Catholic based on the discernment of the Church and its judgment that an apparition is worthy of belief.[61][62] After a canonical enquiry, the visions of Fátima were officially declared "worthy of belief" in October 1930 by the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima.[63]

Popes and Fátima[edit]

Ecclesiastical approbation does not imply that the Church provides an infallible guarantee on the supernatural nature of the event. Theologians like Karl Rahner argued, however, that Popes, by authoritatively fostering the Marian veneration in places as Fátima and Lourdes, motivate the faithful into an acceptance of divine faith.[64] Popes Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI all voiced their acceptance of the supernatural origin of the Fátima events in unusually clear and strong terms. After the local bishop had declared that (1) the visions of the three children are credible and (2) the veneration of the Blessed Virgin is permitted, the Portuguese bishops approved and declared the genuine supernatural nature of the event. The Vatican responded with granting indulgences and permitting special Liturgies of the Mass to be celebrated in Fátima.[14] In 1939, Eugenio Pacelli, who was consecrated as a bishop on May 13, 1917 — the day of the first apparition — was elected to the papacy as Pius XII, and became the Pope of Fátima.[65] One year after World War II had started, Sister Lúcia asked Pope Pius XII to consecrate the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She repeated this request on December 2, 1940, stating in the year 1929, the Blessed Lady requested in another apparition the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. She promised the conversion of Russia from its errors.

Statue depicting Our Lady of Fátima.

On May 13, 1942, the 25th anniversary of the first apparition and the silver jubilee of the episcopal consecration of Pope Pius XII, the Vatican published the Message and Secret of Fátima. On October 31, 1942, Pope Pius XII, in a radio address, informed the people of Portugal about the apparitions of Fátima, consecrating the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin with specific mention of Russia. (See below)[66] On December 8, 1942, the Pontiff officially and solemnly declared this consecration in a ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. On May 13, 1946, Cardinal Masalla, the personal delegate of Pius XII, crowned in his name Our Lady of Fátima, as the Pope issued a second message about Fátima:

  • "The faithful virgin never disappointed the trust put on her. She will transform into a fountain of graces, physical and spiritual graces, over all of Portugal, and from there, breaking all frontiers, over the whole Church and the entire world".[67]

On 1 May 1948, in Auspicia Quaedam, Pope Pius XII requested the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of every Catholic family, parish and diocese.

  • "It is our wish, consequently, that wherever the opportunity suggests itself, this consecration be made in the various dioceses as well as in each of the parishes and families." [68][69]

On May 18, 1950, the Pope again sent a message to the people of Portugal regarding Fátima: "May Portugal never forget the heavenly message of Fátima, which, before anybody else she was blessed to hear. To keep Fátima in your heart and to translate Fátima into deeds, is the best guarantee for ever more graces".[70] In numerous additional messages, and in his encyclicals Fulgens Corona (1953), and Ad Caeli Reginam (1954), Pius XII encouraged the veneration of the Virgin in Fátima.

At the end of the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI renewed the consecration of Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in an unusual gesture, announced his own pilgrimage to the sanctuary on the fiftieth anniversary of the first apparition. On May 13, 1967, he prayed at the shrine together with Sister Lúcia. This historic gesture further cemented the official support for Fátima. Pope John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life following the assassination attempt on Wednesday, May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima, in 1981.[38] He followed the footsteps of Paul VI, on May 12, 1987, to express his gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life. The following day, he renewed the consecration of Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin.[14]

On May 12 and 13, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima and strongly stated his acceptance of the supernatural origin of the Fátima apparitions. On the first day, the Pope arrived at the Chapel of Apparitions to pray and gave a Golden Rose to Our Lady of Fátima "as a homage of gratitude from the Pope for the marvels that the Almighty has worked through you in the hearts of so many who come as pilgrims to this your maternal home". The Pope also recalled the "invisible hand" that saved John Paul II and said in a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary that "it is a profound consolation to know that you are crowned not only with the silver and gold of our joys and hopes, but also with the 'bullet' of our anxieties and sufferings".[71] On the second day, Pope Benedict's homily pronounced in front of more than 500,000 pilgrims a reference to the Fátima prophecy about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and related it to the final "glory of the Most Holy Trinity".[72][73]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation is [ˈnɔsɐ sĩˈȷ̃ɔɾɐ dʒi ˈfatʃimɐ]
  2. ^ "Apparitions of the Angel", EWTN
  3. ^ a b c d e (De Marchi 1952)
  4. ^ Stanley Jaki God and the Sun at Fatima (1999) Real View Books, Michigan, p15
  5. ^ Lúcia explained this in an interview with seminary professor Manuel Formigão, published in John De Marchi's True Story of Fatima, entire text online, page found 2011-06-21.
  6. ^ Estimates of the crowd size range from "thirty to forty thousand" by Avelino de Almeida, writing for the Portuguese newspaper O Século (De Marchi, John (1952). The True Story of Fatima. St. Paul, Minnesota: Catechetical Guild Entertainment Society. ), to one hundred thousand, estimated by Dr. Joseph Garrett, Professor of Natural Sciences at Coimbra University (De Marchi 1952, p. 177), both of whom were present that day (De Marchi 1952, pp. 185–187). The accepted figure is 70,000.
  7. ^ a b Journal of Meteorology, Vol. 14, no. 142, October 1988
  8. ^ Lucia Santos, Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, entire text online at scribd.com, found 2010-12-04. Lucia's first four memoirs, written for the investigation for her cousins' canonization.
  9. ^ (De Marchi 1952, p. 144)
  10. ^ (De Marchi 1952, p. 147)
  11. ^ (De Marchi 1952, p. 143)
  12. ^ Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima
  13. ^ Jaki, Stanley L. (1999). God and the Sun at Fátima. Real View Books, ASIN B0006R7UJ6
  14. ^ a b c d Auguste Meessen 'Apparitions and Miracles of the Sun' International Forum in Porto "Science, Religion and Conscience" October 23–25, 2003 ISSN: 1645-6564
  15. ^ a b c d Petrisko, Thomas W., Rene Laurentin, and Michael J. Fontecchio, The Fatima Prophecies: At the Doorstep of the World, p. 48, St. Andrews Productions 1998
  16. ^ a b c d Hessaman, Michael The Fatima Secret, Random House 2008
  17. ^ "Aurora borealis glows in widest area since 1709" - [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 26, 1938, p.2
  18. ^ "Aurora borealis startles Europe. People flee, call fireman" - [New York Times, January 26, 1938, p.25 ]
  19. ^ Lucia de Jesus, Fátima In Lucia's Own words (1995), The Ravengate Press, pp101,104
  20. ^ Lucia de Jesus, Fátima In Lucia's Own Words (1995), The Ravengate Press, pp. 104
  21. ^ Sister Lucy’s Cell Ordered Sealed by Cardinal Ratzinger by Christopher Ferrara. Article in the Fatima Crusader, #79, p. 15, text online found 2010-05-15.
  22. ^ "She said too, that she would take us all to heaven..." In John DeMarchi's 1952 book True Story of Fátima, entire text online, page found 2011-06-21.
  23. ^ Lúcia Santos, Fátima in Lúcia's Own Words, First Memoir, written in 1936, entire text online, page found 2011-06-21.
  24. ^ (De Marchi 1952, p. 62)
  25. ^ "When both coffins were opened, nothing was found of Francisco but his bones, but Jacinta's face was intact and incorrupt, she seemed to be only asleep, waiting for the Resurrection, and the good odor of Paradise hung about her. Her mother was one of those who saw her." - William Walsh, Our Lady of Fatima, p. 217.
  26. ^ PIUS PP. XII, Epist. apost. Sacro vergente anno de universae Russorum gentis Immaculato Mariae Cordi consecratione, [Ad universos Russiae populos], 7 iulii 1952: AAS 44(1952), pp. 505-
  27. ^ Sacro Vergente 12
  28. ^ Consecration of Russia FAQ at catholicdoors.com, with quotations from Lúcia and pointing out possible signs that the 1984 consecration was sufficient. Page found 2010-05-19.
  29. ^ Apocalyptic Times at Catholic Counter-Reformation, Abbe Georges de Nantes' website. Page found 2010-05-19.
  30. ^ Kramer, Father Paul. The Devil's Final Battle (1st Edition). (Content available for free online).
  31. ^ Sister Lucy States: "Russia Is Not Yet Properly Consecrated" at Fr. Nicholas Gruner's website, fatima.org. Page found 2010-05-19.
  32. ^ Fátima - 1984 Consecration EWTN Expert Answers, accessed July 9, 2010
  33. ^ The Message of Fatima (2000), The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
  34. ^ Kramer, Father Paul. The Devil's Final Battle (1st Edition). pp. 29–30. (Content available for free online). 
  35. ^ Frere Michel de la Sainte Trinite (1990). The Whole Truth About Fatima, Volume III. Buffalo, New York, U.S.A. p. 470. 
  36. ^ Frere Michel de la Sainte Trinite (1990). The Whole Truth About Fatima, Volume III. Buffalo, New York, U.S.A. pp. 578–579. 
  37. ^ Vatican Discloses the 'Third Secret' of Fatima, New York Times, May 14th, 2000.
  38. ^ a b c "The Message of Fatima". Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Retrieved 2009-10-30. 
  39. ^ a b Kramer, Father Paul (2002). The Devil's Final Battle (1st Edition). Good Counsel Publications Inc. ISBN 978-0-9663046-5-7. (Content available for free online --click book title). 
  40. ^ a b Ferrara, Christopher (2008). The Secret Still Hidden. Good Counsel Publications Inc. ISBN 978-0-9815357-0-8. (Content available for free online --click book title and scroll to lower right side of page). 
  41. ^ a b Socci, Antonio (2006). Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima ("The Fourth Secret of Fatima" -- Italian only). Italy. 
  42. ^ Tosatti, Marco (2002). Il Segreto Non Svelato ("The Unrevealed Secret" -- Italian only). ISBN 978-88-384-4552-1. 
  43. ^ Holy See Press Office, (in Italian) (20 December 2001). "In Contro di S.E. Mons. Tarcisio Bertone con Suor Maria Lúcia de Jesus e do Coração Imaculado". Press Release. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  44. ^ ETWN: Global Catholic Network (9 January 2002). "Meeting with Sr. Maria Lúcia". (English translation of 20-12-01 Vatican Press Release). Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  45. ^ Zenit News Agency (20 December 2001). "No More Mysteries in Fatima Secret, Sister Lucia Says". Innovative Media, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  46. ^ Vatican - Apostolic Journey to Portugal on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, young shepherds of Fátima (11–14 May 2010)
  47. ^ ABC News - Pope Benedict XVI and the 'Third Secret' of Fatima
  48. ^ EWTN Special, Calls of the Fatima Message, 2009.
  49. ^ Our Lady of Fatima http://www.fatima.org/
  50. ^ Story of Fátima http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-104.html
  51. ^ William Thomas Walsh, Our Lady of Fatima, p. 52.
  52. ^ Walsh, p. 220.
  53. ^ Walsh, p. 90.
  54. ^ From an undated letter written by Lúcia and quoted in Fátima, caminho da paz (Fátima, the Path to Peace) by A. M. Martins (Braga, 1983), p. 88-89. Reprinted in The Whole Truth of Fatima, Part 4, webpage found 2010-04-30.
  55. ^ Ian Bradley, Pilgrimage: A Spiritual and Cultural Journey, Lion Hudson (2009), p. 68
  56. ^ International Dictionary of Historic Places: Southern Europe, Ed. Ring, Salkin, La Boda, Taylor & Francis, (1996), ISBN 1-884964-02-8, p. 245
  57. ^ Leo Madigan, A pilgrim's handbook to Fatima, Gracewing Publishing, 2001 pp. 20-24
  58. ^ Leo Madigan, A pilgrim's handbook to Fatima, Gracewing Publishing, 2001 pp. 24
  59. ^ International Dictionary of Historic Places: Southern Europe, p. 245
  60. ^ Mary Vincent, Catholicism in the Spanish Second Republic, chapter 4, p.82-108.
  61. ^ Pope Benedict XIV, De Serv. Dei Beatif
  62. ^ EWTN Apparitions
  63. ^ "In virtue of considerations made known, and others which for reason of brevity we omit; humbly invoking the Divine Spirit and placing ourselves under the protection of the most Holy Virgin, and after hearing the opinions of our Rev. Advisors in this diocese, we hereby: 1) Declare worthy of belief, the visions of the shepherd children in the Cova da Iria, parish of Fátima, in this diocese, from 13 May to 13 October 1917. 2) Permit officially the cult of Our Lady of Fátima.1 ", Bishop of Leiria-Fátima, 13 October 1930.
  64. ^ Karl Rahner, Visionen und Prophezeiungen, München 1960
  65. ^ H M Köster, Fatima, in Bäumer, Marienlexikon, II, 448 1940,
  66. ^ AAS, 1942, 313
  67. ^ AAS 1946 246.
  68. ^ Auspicia quadam 21
  69. ^ AAS 148, 171
  70. ^ AAS 1951, 780
  71. ^ ZENIT - Fatima Shrine receives Golden Rose
  72. ^ Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) - Our Lady of Fatima: Pope Benedict's Homily. 'I too Have Come as a Pilgrim'
  73. ^ Vatican - Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, young shepherds of Fátima. Esplanade of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima. Thursday, 13 May 2010.

Bibliography[edit]

<last=Haffert <John M. <title=Her Own Words to the Nuclear Age: The Memoirs of Sr. Lucia, with Comments by John M. Haffert: The 101 Foundation, Inc.: 1993: ISBN 1-890137-19-7>

  • Joe Nickell: Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures: Prometheus Books: 1998: ISBN 1-57392-680-9
  • Nick Perry and Loreto Echevarria: Under the Heel of Mary: New York: Routledge: 1988: ISBN 0-415-01296-1
  • Sandra Zimdars-Swartz: Encountering Mary: Princeton: Princeton University Press: 1991: ISBN 0-691-07371-6
  • Walsh, William:Our Lady of Fatima: Image: Reissue edition (October 1, 1954): 240 pp: ISBN 978-0385028691

External links[edit]