Catholic Activity: Fatima and the Popes
As a proof of the "exceptional favor" with which Pius XII, Paul VI, and John Paul II have looked on the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, we can cite the following among many testimonies.
Consecration of the World to Mary's Heart. On October 31, 1942, Pius XII sent a radio-message to pilgrims who had journeyed to "the holy mount of Fatima" for the 25th anniversary of the apparitions (and the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination). After exhorting them to thanksgiving, fidelity, and prayer, the Pope consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Underlines Importance of Fatima Event. On May 13, 1946, the same Pope sent a radio-message for the crowning of the Image of Our Lady of Fatima. In it he recalls how "the prodigy of Fatima" is the work of the "maternal and compassionate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Queen," and also makes note of Mary's continued protection over Portugal. The Pope exalts Mary's heavenly and universal Queenship, "a Queenship that is essentially maternal and exclusively beneficial," and he underlines the importance and significance of the Fatima event:
"Is it not this Queenship that you are experiencing? Is it not the infinite benefits, the graces with which the maternal Heart of this august Queen has favored you, that you are here proclaiming today with a lively sense of gratitude? The most tragic war that has ever laid waste to this world has touched your borders but has never come over them because of the protection of Our Lady above all."
Human Family Entrusted to Our Lady. In the closing discourse to the third session of Vatican Council II (November 21, 1964), Paul VI addressed an ardent prayer to the Blessed Virgin that she might bless the Ecumenical Council and the Church and cast her glance "on the endless horizons of the whole world, the object of the most lively care of the Ecumenical Council, and which Pius XII of venerated memory, not without inspiration from on high, solemnly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Pope goes on to say: "Today we consider it particularly opportune to recall this act of consecration. Bearing this in mind, we have decided to send a special mission to Fatima in the near future in order to carry the Golden Rose to the sanctuary of Fatima, more dear than ever not only to the people of the noble Portuguese nation-always, but particularly today, dear to us-but also known and venerated by the faithful throughout the entire Catholic world. In this manner we intend to entrust to the care of this heavenly Mother the entire human family, with its problems and anxieties, with its legitimate aspirations and ardent hopes."
Call for Renewal of Personal Consecration. On May 13, 1967, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady at the Cova da Iria, Paul VI went to Fatima on a pilgrimage of prayer and peace. For that occasion he published an Exhortation directed to the whole Church on the veneration and imitation of the Blessed Virgin entitled Mary, Mother of the Church (Signum Magnum). In it Paul VI invites all Catholics to renew personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of the Church:
"It was 25 years ago that our predecessor Pius XII addressed the people of Portugal (October 31, 1942) by radio and solemnly consecrated the Church and the whole human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary. We repeated this consecration on November 21, 1964. So now we urge all members of the Church to consecrate themselves once again to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to translate this pious act into concrete action in their daily lives. In this way they will comply ever more closely with God's will and, as imitators of their heavenly Queen, they will truly be recognized as her offspring."
John Paul II
Message of Fatima and Teaching of Christ. On May 12, 1982, John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Fatima to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Mary's appearance, to give thanks for the Virgin's intercession in saving his life a year earlier, and to consecrate anew the people of the world to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. Then on May 13, 1982, on the anniversary of Our Lady's first appearance, the Pope celebrated Mass at the Shrine and gave Communion to the 75-year-old Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, the only living member of the three children who witnessed the apparitions. He then placed the message of Fatima within the framework of the teaching of Christ:
"The Church has always taught and continues to proclaim that God's revelation was brought to completion in Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of that revelation, and that no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of Our Lord. The Church evaluates and judges private revelation by the criterion of conformity with that single public revelation.
Summons to Conversion. "If the Church has accepted the message of Fatima, it is above all because that message contains a truth and a call whose content is the truth and the call of the Gospel itself.
"'Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel' (Mk 1:15). These are the first words that the Messiah addressed to humanity. The message of Fatima is in its basic nucleus a call to conversion and repentance, as in the Gospel. This call was ... addressed particularly to this present century.... The message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one [yet] it is also strong and decisive. It sounds severe. It sounds like John the Baptizer speaking on the banks of the Jordan. It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary"
At the end of the Mass, John Paul II reconsecrated the world to Our Lady. He asked that she intercede for its deliverance from hunger, sins against life, injustice in social, national, and international life, and from nuclear war, incalculable destruction, and every kind of war.
Activity Source: Dictionary of Mary , Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1970