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The Message of Fatima

by Zsolt Aradi


This article gives a brief description of the message of Fatima.

Larger Work

Shrines to Our Lady



Publisher & Date

Farrar, Straus and Young, 1954

Lucy dos Santos, ten years old, and Francis and Jacinta Marto, aged nine and seven, guarded sheep in a valley called Cova de Iria. On May 13, 1917, it was noontime of a pleasant, warm day, the sky cloudless and radiant. Suddenly, the three children saw two flashes of lightning. They had not recovered from their shock when they beheld the sight of a globe of lights among the foliage of an evergreen oak. In the middle of the globe, surrounded by rays more radiant than the sun was a beautiful Lady. The children stood still for several seconds: then the Lady addressed them in a soft, gentle voice: "Be not frightened. I shall not harm you." The Lady seemed to be less than eighteen years old, wore a white robe, and her head was covered with a white veil. Her hands clasped into prayer held a rosary.

And with this began a sequence of events for which there is no other explanation than that of supernatural intervention. It is reassuring but sometimes frightening to know that these events occurred during the lifetime of many of us. It represented direct communication, a breakthrough from the realm of the spirit into the realm of the material world. The children, as might well be imagined, felt frightened. But when the Lady spoke and smiled at them, they lost their fear and a conversation followed during which she told them that she came from Heaven and asked the children to come every month on the same date until October when she would tell them who she was and what she wanted them to do.

In the beginning, after this first apparition, nobody was inclined to believe the story told by the children. They were threatened, called liars. But despite the threats, they were at the Cova on June 13, as promised, along with several people. Those who accompanied them did not see the apparition, nor did they hear what the Lady said solely to Lucy dos Santos. However, the group noticed that the sun dimmed, and they heard a loud sound and saw a white cloud. All noticed that the branches of the oak were bent under an invisible weight upon them. On this day, Lucy was asked by the Lady to recite the rosary every day. At the next date, July 13, the Lady repeated her request that the rosary be said, and she added that the faithful should make sacrifices for sinners and take penance for the offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Concerning the July 13, 1917 apparition, the children later reported that Our Lady had shown them a vision of Hell, and requested that everybody should pray for those suffering souls and for peace. But the July 13 apparitions remain of unique importance because it was on that day that the Lady told these simple Portuguese children, who had not the remotest idea of events in the outside world: "The war will end. But if people do not stop offending the Lord, another worse than this will start during the next pontificate… When you see the night lit up by a great unknown light, know this to be a sign from God that the punishment of the world is at hand, by war, famine, and persecution against the Church and the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall ask for the consecration of the world to my Immaculate Heart, and for Communion and reparation on the first Saturdays of each month. If my request is heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will spread her errors through the world, provoking wars and persecution against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer. Several nations will be destroyed. But in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph." (From Famous Shrines of Our Lady by H. M. Gillett.) This message requires no elucidation in the light of all the known events, which have since followed.

On August 13, the three children could not go to the Cova da Iria. The Portuguese civil authorities at that time were violently anti-religious and ordered the children arrested and thrown into jail. The chief of police threatened them, telling them they would have to die if they did not retract. They were led to a kettle of boiling water and told that they would be thrown into it. But the children remained firm. A huge crowd went to the Cova this day and again saw the white cloud and saw the lightning, but with the children absent, no apparition occurred. The chief of police, however, released the children on August 15. They were accorded another vision later, on August 19, when the Lady asked them again to pray incessantly for the souls of the lost and requested that processions in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary should be organized. On this day, the children saw the Virgin revealing her Immaculate Heart surrounded by thorns, which represented the sins of the world, and she asked for reparation.

On September 13, there were an estimated forty thousand persons at the original scene before the evergreen oak. At this time, the globe appeared again on the tree, followed by the white cloud, and rain began to fall from the clear sky. The Lady agreed that a chapel should be built on the site and reiterated her promise that on October 13 a great miracle would occur.

The miracle of October 13, 1917 was of such splendor that nothing equivalent to it has been recorded since ancient times. No other apparition has been observed with such care by thousands of people in every walk of life, believer and unbeliever equally. On this day, seventy thousand people came; they heard the thunder, saw the lightning and noticed the parting of the cloud. The Lady identified herself to the children, saying that she was the Lady of the Rosary. She warned that people must change and repent: they should say the rosary and do penance. The children on this day had a vision of not only the Holy Virgin but of St. Joseph, and of the grown Christ standing beside the figure of Our Lady of Sorrows, and finally Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the scapular. The apparitions, as noted before, were seen only by the children, and the messages were given to them alone. But while the children listened enraptured, the crowd witnessed something else. After the rosary had been recited by the multitude, the dark sky opened, and the sun, appearing in a clear blue sky, suddenly began to tremble and shake, and then turn about swiftly like a great wheel of fire casting off long shafts of light, which colored the sky and earth. This spectacle continued for ten minutes and was observed at a distance of twenty-five miles. Then the sun broke loose from the sky and plunged downwards through the space directly over the people, who fell to their knees crying for forgiveness for their sins.

This is the story of the apparitions of Fatima in 1917. Thirteen years later, in 1930, after the most careful investigation, the bishops of Portugal declared that the cult of Our Lady of Fatima was officially authorized. In 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world and Russia in particular to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The message of Our Lady of Fatima spread rapidly about the world. This message can be divided roughly into four points: the importance of penance, the importance of the Rosary, the Revelation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and lastly the importance of prayers for Russia and for the Russian people.

Of the three children involved, Jacinta and Francis died soon after the apparitions, favored by numerous graces and apparitions of Our Lady. Lucy dos Santos and the parents of Jacinta and Francis are alive. Lucy is a Carmelite nun. She has been entrusted by the Holy Virgin with a secret message, but this message has never been revealed except to the Holy Father.

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