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Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima

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The Miraculous Apparition of our Lady of Fatima

In 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children on the thirteenth of each month from May to October in Fatima, Portugal. During the apparitions, the children receive a vision that they must keep secret. On the 13th of October, 1917, during the final apparition of Mary, the miracle of the sun takes place.

Our Lady of Fatima

Of the many Marian apparitions, the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima and in Lourdes are perhaps the best known.

The apparitions in Fatima took place just over 100 years ago and are particularly well documented. Particularly by Lucia herself, who, at the request of the Bishop from Leira, has committed her memories to paper several times.

The story consists of 3 parts:

  1. The story of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima
  2. The miracle of the sun
  3. The secrets of Fatima
An extract of all the events are given in a timeline at the end of this post.

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The angel of peace

When Lucia is 9 she receives her first apparitions. What she sees, she cannot describe very well, and everyone dismisses it as a child’s fantasy.

A year later, when she has to herd the sheep, she takes her cousins with her. This threesome, Lucia dos Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto, will experience several apparitions together.

The first apparition takes place in 1916, when the three of them see an angel who appears three times. He calls himself the Angel of Peace and teaches the children two prayers and brings them Communion.

The apparitions of Our Lady

The first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima occurs on May 13, 1917. The children were instructed to return to the site of the apparitions on the 13th of each month at the same hour for six months.

Francisco can see the Lady, Jacinta can see and hear the Lady. Only Lucia is able to ask questions.

The Lady asks the children whether they will offer everything they have to suffer for poor sinners; the children agree, and Our Lady warns them that they will have much to endure, “but the grace of God will be with you and will support you.”
“Say the Rosary every day,” Our Lady continues, “to bring peace to the globe and an end to the war.”

Despite the explicit agreement that the children would not tell anything at home, the little Jacinta could not keep silent. As a result, the secret of the apparitions became known.

Children of Fatima

Lucia’s parents and sisters dismiss the stories as lies. Lucia’s mother regularly tries to beat the truth out of her daughter using a broomstick. Despite the skepticism of family and fellow villagers, there are those who go with the children to pray and ask Mary for favors.

A month later, the second apparition of Our Lady takes place. Again, the children are requested to return every month. Fatima receives a prayer to be included in the Rosary and is told the children Jacinta and Francisco would be taken to heaven soon. Lucia would remain in the world to help establish devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

The secrets of Fatima

On July 13, 1917, the third appearance takes place.

On this occasion, the children receive visions which the children must keep secret. These visions are called the secrets of Fatima and consist of three parts. The first two parts were revealed by Lucia in 1941, and the last part of the secret became publicly known in 2000. 

Our Lady tells the children that a miracle will take place on October 13. They are further instructed to suffer for sinners and then to recite the following prayer: “O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Imprisonment!

Meanwhile, more and more followers came to the village, but on the 13th of August, the children could not come with them to the place where Mary appeared. They had been imprisoned by the mayor of the village (Arturo de Santos), who was more than tired of all these so-called apparitions. In this respect, the suffering of the children was certainly put to the test. Under the most terrible threats, such as being boiled in oil, the mayor tried to force the children to take back their words or else tell him the secret.

This was not the first time the children had been questioned. Lucia had been detained and threatened a number of times. She had also been questioned several times by the pastor, but he was only trying to find out the truth and accepted the children’s story for what it was. This disappointed Lucia’s mother, who hoped that the priest would threaten Lucia with hell and damnation in order to find out the truth.

Shepherds of Fatima

Jacinta believes she is the cause of all the trouble because she didn’t keep the apparitions secret. If she had stayed silent in the first place, the authorities, priests and other villagers wouldn’t have bothered them. 

Therefore, she thinks she needs to suffer extra and comes up with all kinds of ways to go through pain. For example, she tells the children that when they go to herd the sheep, they should give away the food to the poor children in town. Instead, when they are hungry, they could eat acorns and raw olives. They also tied a rope around their bare arms and pull it tight enough to make them cry.

The fourth and fifth apparition

The fourth apparition of Our Lady occurs in Valinhos near the village of Aljustrel a couple of days after their imprisonment (august 19th).

During the fifth apparition, Our Lady instructs the children to continue praying the Rosary. “Repeat daily that the war may end. Our Lord, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, will arrive in October. Saint Joseph and the Infant Jesus will arrive to bless the world.” She also requests that the children stop hurting themselves.

The Sixth apparition and the Miracle of the Sun

More and more people came to see the children and the news of a miracle on October 13th attracted 70.000 people. When Maria appears she tells the children:

“I am the Lady of the Rosary. … People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord anymore, for He is already too much offended!”

It was raining the whole day and everybody was wet and in anticipation of the miracle. All of a sudden Lucia cries out: “Look at the sun!”.

Miracle of the sun Fatima

The sun appears to be whirling, changing colors, and “dancing” in the sky. At one point, the sun appears to fall toward the earth, causing many to believe this is the end of the world. When the miracle ceases, the ground, which had been soaked minutes earlier, is  dry.

Numerous newspapers publish articles written by journalists on the scene. There are eyewitnesses to the miracle for kilometers.

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The death of the three children of Fatima

In the fall of 1918, Jacinta and Francisco fall ill. They are victims of the Spanish flu. Francisco dies in April and Jacinta dies a year later. Maria would appear to Jacinta several times during this time to comfort her.

Lucia, in 1921, was instructed by Our Lady to do what the bishop told her to do. She went to a school in Porto and was given a new name, Maria das Dores. After her schooling, she joins a convent.

After that, Our Lady would appear to Lucia several more times and in 1930 Bishop da Silva issues a pastoral letter approving the apparitions at Fatima. In 1935, he asks Lucia to write her memoirs and to reveal the secrets of Our Lady of Fatima. 

The first part of the secrets were published in 1941.

Lucia and Pope John II in 2000
Lucia and Pope John II in 2000

This image was originally posted to Flickr by O Bom Católico at https://flickr.com/photos/62054858@N02/5653820216. It was reviewed on 5 March 2022 by FlickreviewR 2 and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

In 2000 Jacinta and Francisco are beatified and the third part of the secret of Fatima is published. 

Lucia dies in 2005.

On 13 February 2008 (the third anniversary of her death), Pope Benedict XVI declared that he would bypass the five-year waiting period set by church law before initiating a cause for Sister Lucia’s beatification. Sister Lucia was given the title ‘Servant of God’ on 13 February 2017 as the first significant step toward her canonization.

Fatima - complete timeline of the events

1916

The three shepherd children of Fatima, Lucia dos Santos, Francisco Marto, and Jacinta Marto, are visited three times by the Angel of Portugal, also known as the “Angel of Peace.”

1917

May 13th: Our Lady appears to three youngsters at the Cova da Iria, a huge open field outside the village of Fatima, and requests that they return for five consecutive months on the thirteenth day of each month at the same hour. At each apparition, Our Lady urged that the Rosary be recited daily in order to achieve world peace.

 

June 13th: Our Lady tells the children that God desires to develop worldwide devotion to Her Immaculate Heart. Approximately fifty individuals are present at the Cova da Iria during this apparition.

 

Juli 13th: In front of about 5,000 people Our Lady reveals a three-part Great Secret to the children. Our Lady of Fatima assures Lucia on this occasion that She will come in October to perform a public miracle to prove the reality of Her apparitions.

 

October 13th: Following Her apparitions in August and September, Our Lady reappears to perform the foretold miracle. This phenomenon became known as the Miracle of the Sun.

 

1925

Apparition of Mary and the Child Jesus to Lucia. The message from Our Lady guarantees personal salvation to those who console her on five consecutive First Saturdays:

““… announce in My name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the First Saturday of five consecutive

months shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making Reparation to Me.”

1926

Apparition of the Child Jesus who repeats the request of the First Five Saturday devotion.

1927

Sister Lucia is given permission by the Lord to write down the first two parts of the secret.

1929

Our Lady returns to request Russia’s consecration

1930

In 1930, Lucia wrote to the Bishop that she had a vision of Mary and the Holy Trinity in 1929, in which God called for the Consecration of Russia to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary by the Pope in communion with all the bishops of the world.

1931

Our Lord warns for the dangers if the Consecration of Russia is not performed

1941

Sister Lucia records the first two parts of the Great Secret in a letter (the third memoir) to Bishop José de Silva

1942

Pope Pius XII, acting alone and based on incorrect information about what Our Lady wanted, consecrates the world to the Immaculate Heart, but not Russia explicitly. The bishops are not involved.

1943

The Bishop of Fatima (José de Silva) asks Lucia to write down the

Third Secret

1944

Our Lady directs Sister Lucia to reveal the third part of the secret, Lucia writes on the envelope: “By express order of Our Lady, this envelope can only be opened in 1960 by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon or the Bishop of Leiria”.

1952

Our Lady appears again. She is still waiting for the Consecration of Russia (with all the bishops present). Pius XII consecrates the Russian people to the Immaculate Heart, though again, without the participation of the bishops of the world.

1957

The Third Secret is sent to the Vatican and placed in the secret Archives of the Holy Office

1959

Saint John XXIII read the third secret and makes the decision not to share it.

1965

Pope Paul VI reads the third secret of Fatima and also decides not to release it.

1981

On may 13th, Pope John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square. During his convalescence, he sends for the third secret of Fatima. He sees in his shooting the fulfillment of the third secret and the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Fatima to preserve his life.

1982

Saint John Paul II is stabbed by a Spanish clergyman when he was on a pilgrimage to Fatima. He is not gravely hurt. One of the bullets fired at him the year before is made part of the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

1984

Saint John Paul II, in union with the bishops of the world, performs the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart

1989

The fall of the Berlin Wall

1991

The USSR is dissoved

2000

May 13th. Beatification of Francisco and Jacinta. Sister Lucia was present for the beatification liturgy.

2000

June 26th. The Vatican publishes the third part of the secret of Fatima.

2005

Death of Sister Lucia

2005

Death of Pope John Paul II

2013

Pope Francis brings the authentic Our Lady of Fatima statue to St. Peter’s Square and consecrates the world to the Immaculate Heart.

2017

Sister Lucia was given the title ‘Servant of God’ on 13 February 2017 as the first significant step toward her canonization.

 

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