The Message of Fatima
The story of the Fatima apparitions never seems to grow old but rather takes on other nuances as time approaches its 100th anniversary in 2017, with profound implications for the entire world. Paramount to the message, however, will always be the importance of prayer—especially the Rosary—and reparation before the Most Blessed Sacrament, to appease God, who is so profoundly offended by the blatant sinfulness of his creatures. Our Lady begs for constant prayer and sacrifice to bring about global peace and conversions, and to deflect souls from hell’s inferno. Her Immaculate Heart is the most compassionate in pleading for “poor” sinners.
Apparitions of The Angel
Any discussion of Our Lady’s visits of 1917 to Lucia dos Santos, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto in Fatima should be preceded with reference to the 1916 appearances of the Angel, who identified himself to the trio as the “Angel of Peace” and the “Guardian Angel of Portugal,” at the Loca do Cabeço, which was a tiny impression near Fatima. The three visits of the Angel occurred in the spring, the summer and the autumn of that year. While “tilling the soil” for Our Blessed Mother’s subsequent appearances, the Angel emphasized to the three shepherd children the importance of prayer and sacrifice, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament and reparation to be offered to It.
The Three Apparitions of the Angel in 1916
During the spring apparition, the Angel of Peace invited the children to pray with him and taught them the prayer that we know as the Pardon Prayer:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you! I ask pardon of you for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you!
The appearance in the summer witnessed the encouragement uttered by the Guardian Angel of Portugal to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta:
Pray! Pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.
And in that second apparition, the Angel was not finished giving counsel:
Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.
The third and final appearance of the Angel that occurred during the autumn also featured a prayer for the children to learn:
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly, and I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of you the conversion of poor sinners.
Apparitions of Our Lady
Our Lady appeared on the following days: Sunday, May 13; Wednesday, June 13; Friday, July 13; Sunday, August 19; Friday, September 13; and Sunday, October 13:
The thirteenth of these months was so honored by Mary’s visit, except in August when the children were jailed by Arturo de Oliveira Santos, the apparently Communist-leaning Administrator of Villa Nova de Ourém, the county to which Fatima belonged, who threatened them by employing myriad scare tactics so that they would renounce their assertion of having encountered “The Lady”—but to no avail. The children were taken hostage on Monday, August 13 and released on Wednesday, August 15—the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Madonna then chose August 19 for that month’s apparition, which occurred not at the Cova da Iria but at Valinhos, a hollow situated on the northern slope of the Loca do Cabeço—the site of the Angel’s visits to the children.
Sunday, May 13
Ten-year-old Lucia and her first cousins Francisco and Jacinta, eight and seven, respectively, saw “The Lady,” who was dressed in a gold-edged white mantle that extended to her feet. Mary, radiating light and grasping a Rosary in her hands, stood on top of a holm oak tree.
“The Lady” lovingly speaks first to inform the children that she will do them no harm. She proclaims that she is from Heaven and wants Lucia and her two cousins to return to the Cova da Iria every thirteenth of the month for the next six months at the same hour. Later, Mary will reveal her identity and what she desires. Our Lady will even “return here yet a seventh time.” he Mother of God assured Lucia that the three seers would go to Heaven, but that Francisco would have to recite many Rosaries. When Lucia asked whether her two deceased friends, Maria and Amelia, were in Paradise, Mary answered “yes” regarding Maria. As to Amelia, “She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world.”
The Ever-Virgin questioned the children: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” The children responded, “Yes, we are willing.” “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.” Enveloped by an intense light that emanated from Mary’s open hands, the children felt compelled to kneel, and they prayed:
“O Most Holy Trinity, I adore you! My God, my God, I love you in the Most Blessed Sacrament!”
Wednesday, June 13
The children had been roundly chastened for their “overactive imagination.” However, such stinging rebukes would not deter them from returning as the Ever-Virgin desired. Mary came again, this time on the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua, one of the Patrons of Portugal. Approximately fifty persons were there.
After Lucia asked what “The Lady” desired, Mary responded by telling her to return with Francisco and Jacinta in July, recite the Most Holy Rosary daily, and learn to read. When Lucia sought a cure for an ill person, Our Lady replied that he would be healed within the year if he converted. To Lucia’s request that the Ever-Virgin usher her and the other two to Paradise, Mary said: “Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon. But you are to stay here some time longer. Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” . And when Lucia inquired whether she would be alone once Francisco and Jacinta were securely in Paradise, the tender Advocate replied:
No, my daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.
Friday, July 13
About four thousand people were present for this apparition.
Our Lady repeated the importance of the children returning on the thirteenth of the month and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary. This time, Mary added that the Rosary should be prayed “in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary . . . because only she can help you.” Sympathetic to Lucia’s deep sorrow that some did not believe in Our Lady’s appearances, Mary stated that in October, she would reveal her identity and perform a miracle. In reply to Lucia’s plea for diverse favors on behalf of others, the Mother of God asserted that it was necessary for those persons to pray the Holy Rosary to obtain those graces.
Before the trio saw a very frightening vision of Hell, Our Blessed Mother encouraged them:
Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make any sacrifice: “O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
After this exhortation Our Lady showed the trio a horrifying vision of hell that shook them profoundly. This is the First Secret of Fatima. She gently addressed the children:
“You 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.”
Then, she taught them what is now the familiar prayer that we recite after each Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary:
“O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.”
Our Lady also disclosed the Second Secret of Fatima.
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 illumined 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. 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 will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved.
The Third Secret is related to the wicked persecutions against the Church and her children that have occurred during recent years. Oceans of blood would be spilled because of man’s inhumanity to man, a hatred for God and the Catholic Church, and a general spiritual malaise. Penance and conversion are paramount if such infidelity towards our Creator and assaults against human life are to be avoided in the future. Interestingly, Our Lady did not speak as the Third Secret was unfolded before the trio of seers.
Sunday, August 19
Six to eighteen thousand persons went to the Cova on August 13, but the children were not among these. Arturo de Oliveira Santos, the Administrator of the town of Vila Nova de Ourem, prevented the children from being present at the Cova for the appearance of Our Lady scheduled for August 13, imprisoning them and even threatening them with death if they would not reveal “the secret.” But such machinations did not stop Mary from making August 19 the date of her arrival. Our Blessed Mother stated again her desire that the little shepherds daily pray the Most Holy Rosary and that the miracle due in October would not be as extraordinary because of the efforts of the civil authorities to detain the children. Regarding Lucia’s question as to what should be done with the money that had been left at the Cova, the Mother of God replied:
Have two litters made. One is to be carried by you and Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white; the other one is to be carried by Francisco and three other boys. The money from the litters is for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and what is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built here.
When Lucia requested cures for some of the sick, Our Lady said that some would be cured within the year, and then she concluded the August apparition by declaring:
Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.
Friday, September 13
Despite the difficulty in reaching the Cova due to the approximately thirty thousand people in attendance, the children eventually arrived at that sacred spot. After the usual exchange between Mother Mary and daughter Lucia, Our Lady said:
In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Dolors and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world.
Mary also compassionately addressed the subject of the generous acts of self-denial that the children were performing:
God is pleased with your sacrifices. He does not want you to sleep with the rope on [tied around the waist], but only to wear it during the daytime.
This was the briefest of the apparitions
Sunday, October 13
The long-awaited October 13 apparition of Our Lady drew fifty to one hundred thousand people to the Cova. Rain and mud were everywhere. Our Blessed Mother answered Lucia’s oft-repeated question, “What do you want of me?” thus:
I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.
As previously, Lucia presented petitions to Our Lady, who replied that those who request favors from God must beg forgiveness for their sins and be converted. She mentioned that the soldiers of World War I would soon return to their homes, and she pleaded, looking sad:
Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended.
Mary opened her hands and ascended. Her reflection was projected onto the sun. Then, as she had earlier pledged, the Child Jesus, Saint Joseph and Our Lady appeared. The sun became brighter, spun, shot forth dazzling colors and eventually hurtled to earth, only to stop and retake its usual place. The soaked clothes of the onlookers were now dry, as was the ground! The Miracle of the Sun had occurred, and this sixth apparition was concluded.