Feast of Our Lady of Fatima — 100th Anniversary
Today, May 13, 2017, is the 100th anniversary of the Feast of the Fatima apparitions, in which Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children – Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia — in Fatima, Portugal six times from May 13, 2017 – October 13, 2017 to ask for prayer and repentance to obtain world peace and the conversion of sinners.
The story of Fatima begins in 1916. Europe was in the throes of the First World War, which would claim an astonishing 37 million lives. As the children were tending their sheep, a white globe of light moved across the field and a dazzling young man in flowing white garments stood before them. “Fear not. I am the Angel of Peace,” said the stranger, who appeared to them two more times that year, urging them to accept the sufferings that the Lord allowed them to undergo as an act of reparation for sins and to pray constantly for the conversion of sinners.
Then, on the 13th day of the month of Our Lady, May 1917, an apparition of “a woman all in white, more brilliant than the sun, dispensing light, clearer and more intense than a crystal cup full of crystalline water penetrated by the rays of the most glaring sun” presented itself to the children.
“Please don’t be afraid of me, I’m not going to harm you,” the vision said. Lucia asked her where she came from and she responded, “I come from Heaven.” The woman wore a white mantle edged in gold and held a rosary in her hand. She asked them to pray and devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and to “say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”
She also revealed that the 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 Our Lady’s message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart. In the last apparition the woman revealed her name in response to Lucia’s question: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”
That same day, a crowd of approximately 100,000 spectators turned out to witness the apparition, 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 truth of the apparitions. By 1930, the Bishop had approved of the apparitions and they have been approved by the Church as authentic.
The messages Our Lady imparted during the apparitions to the children concerned the intense trials that would afflict the world by means of war, starvation, and the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father in the twentieth century 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.
Our Lady of Fatima revealed three prophetic “secrets,” the first two of which were revealed earlier and refer to the vision of hell and the souls languishing there, the request for an ardent devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the prediction of the Second World War, and finally the prediction of the immense damage that Russia would do to humanity by abandoning the Christian faith and embracing Communist totalitarianism. The third “secret” was not revealed until the year 2000, and referred to the persecutions that humanity would undergo in the last century: “The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated’”. The suffering of the popes of the 20th century has been interpreted to include the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, which took place on May 13, the 64th anniversary of the apparitions.
On May 13, 1982, Pope John Paul II traveled to Fatima to meet with Lucia, the only living witness of the Fatima apparitions. He told Lucia that he owed his life to Our Lady: “… it was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death.” The Holy Father read and re-read the Fatima documents, realizing that he was most likely the “man clothed in white,” as foretold by Our Lady, who would be attacked, and “fall to the ground as though dead from gunshots.” For these reasons, he has been referred to as “The Fatima Pope.” In 1984, Pope John Paul II, before 250,000 people in Rome, fulfilled Our Lady’s request to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On November 21, 1984, Sr. Lucia confirmed this, by writing a letter in which she stated that the consecration made by Pope John Paul II on March 25, 1984, was indeed valid. Soon thereafter, the Berlin Wall fell, the USSR dissolved, and religious freedom was returned to the Russian people.
The message to Fatima continues to be more relevant today than it was at the time of Fatima and it is crucial that we continue to reform our lives, pray the Rosary daily, and to practice penance to obtain world peace and the conversion of sinners. Our Lady also leaves us with the message of hope. She tells us that in the end her “Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
On this Fatima centenary, two of the shepherd children, Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco, who died soon after the apparitions due to compications of influenza, will be canonized by Pope Francis.
Litany to Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for our dear country.
Our Lady of Fatima, sanctify our clergy.
Our Lady of Fatima, make our Catholics more fervent.
Our Lady of Fatima, guide and inspire those who govern us.
Our Lady of Fatima, cure the sick who confide in thee.
Our Lady of Fatima, console the sorrowful who trust in thee.
Our Lady of Fatima, help those who invoke your aid.
Our Lady of Fatima, deliver us from all dangers.
Our Lady of Fatima, help us to resist temptation.
Our Lady of Fatima, obtain for us all that we lovingly ask of thee.
Our Lady of Fatima, help those who are dear to us.
Our Lady of Fatima, bring back to the right road our erring brothers.
Our Lady of Fatima, give us back our ancient fervor.
Our Lady of Fatima, obtain for us pardon of our manifold sins and offenses.
Our Lady of Fatima, bring all men to the feet of thy Divine Child.
Our Lady of Fatima, obtain peace for the world.
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Let Us Pray:
O God of infinite goodness and mercy, fill our hearts with a great confidence
in Thy dear Mother, whom we invoke under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary
and our Lady of Fatima, and grant us by her powerful intercession all the graces,
spiritual and temporal, which we need. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ copyright Jean M. Heimann 2017