Sr Lucia De Jesus Dos Santos with Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco Marto
Our Lady of Fátima
(Portuguese: Nossa Senhora de Fátima)is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary with respect to reported apparitions of her to three shepherd children at Fátima in Portugal on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13. The three children were Lúcia Santos and her cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The title of Our Lady of the Rosary is also sometimes used in reference to the same apparition (although it was first used in 1208 for the reported apparition in the church of Prouille), because the children related that the apparition specifically identified herself as the "Lady of the Rosary". It is also common to see a combination of these titles, i.e. Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima). The events at Fatima gained particular fame due to their elements of prophecy and eschatology, particularly with regard to possible world war and the conversion of Russia. The reported apparitions at Fatima were officially declared "worthy of belief" by the Catholic Church.
PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF FATIMA
O Most Holy Virgin Mary,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima
and reveal a glorious message.
We implore you,
inspire in our hearts a fervent love
for the recitation of the Rosary.
By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption
that are recalled therein
may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask,
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Redeemer.
On 13 May 1917, ten year old Lúcia Santos and her younger cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto, were looking at sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima in Portugal. Lúcia described seeing a woman "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun." Further appearances are reported to have taken place on the thirteenth day of the month in June and July.
In these, the woman exhorted the children to do penance and Acts of Reparation, and to make sacrifices to save sinners. The children subsequently wore tight cords around their waists to cause pain, performed self-flagellation using stinging nettles, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance and mortification of the flesh.
Most important, Lúcia said that the lady had asked them to pray the rosary every day, repeating many times that the rosary was the key to personal and world peace. This had particular resonance since many Portuguese men, including relatives of the visionaries, were then fighting in World War I. According to Lúcia's account, in the course of her appearances, the woman confided to the children three secrets, now known as the Three Secrets of Fátima.
Thousands of people flocked to Fátima and Aljustrel in the ensuing months, drawn by reports of visions and miracles. On 13 August 1917, the provincial administrator and anticlerical Freemason, Artur Santos (no relation), believing that the events were politically disruptive, intercepted and jailed the children before they could reach the Cova da Iria that day. Prisoners held with them in the provincial jail later testified that the children, while upset, were first consoled by the inmates, and later led them in praying the rosary.
The administrator interrogated the children and unsuccessfully attempted to get them to divulge the content of the secrets. In the process, he tried to convince the children that he would boil them one by one in a pot of oil unless they confessed. The children, however, resisted. That month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iria on the 13th, the children reported that they saw the Virgin Mary on 19 August at nearby Valinhos.
First two secrets
The first secret was a vision of Hell, which Lúcia describes in her Third Memoir, as follows:
"Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror."
The second secret included Mary's instructions on how to save souls from Hell and convert the world to the Christian faith, also revealed by Lúcia in her Third Memoir:
"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. 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 illuminated 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. To prevent this, 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 shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.
Fate of the three children
Lúcia reported seeing the Virgin Mary again in 1925 at the Dorothean convent at Pontevedra, Galicia (Spain). This time she said she was asked to convey the message of the First Saturday Devotions. By her account a subsequent vision of Christ as a child reiterated this request.
Lúcia was transferred to another convent in Tui or Tuy, Galicia in 1928. In 1929, Lúcia reported that Mary returned and repeated her request for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
Lúcia reportedly saw Mary in private visions periodically throughout her life. Most significant was the apparition in Rianxo, Galicia, in 1931, in which she said that Jesus visited her, taught her two prayers and delivered a message to give to the church's hierarchy.
In 1947, Sister Lúcia left the Dorothean order and joined the Discalced Carmelite order in a monastery in Coimbra, Portugal. Lúcia died on 13 February 2005, at the age of 97. After her death, the Vatican, specifically Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (at that time, still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), ordered her cell sealed off. It is believed this was because Sister Lúcia had continued to receive more revelations and the evidence needed to be examined in the course of proceedings for her possible canonization.
Lúcia's cousins, the siblings Francisco (1908–1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910–1920), were both victims of the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-20. Francisco and Jacinta were declared venerable by Blessed Pope John Paul II in a public ceremony at Fatima on 13 May 1989. Blessed Pope John Paul II returned there on 13 May 2000 to declare them 'blessed'. Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.
In 1941, Lúcia claimed that the Virgin Mary had predicted the deaths of two of the children during the second apparition on 13 June 1917. Some accounts, including the testimony of Olímpia Marto (mother of the two younger children) state that her children did not keep this information secret and ecstatically predicted their own deaths many times to her and to curious pilgrims. According to the 1941 account, on 13 June, Lúcia asked the Virgin if the three children would go to heaven when they died. She said that she heard Mary reply, "Yes, I shall take Francisco and Jacinta soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart."
Exhumed in 1935 and again in 1951, Jacinta's face was found incorrupt. Francisco's body, however, had decomposed.
Popes and Fátima
Ecclesiastical approbation does not imply that the Church provides an infallible guarantee on the supernatural nature of the event. Theologians like Karl Rahner argued however, that Popes, by authoritatively fostering the Marian veneration in places like Fatima and Lourdes, motivate the faithful into an acceptance of divine faith Venerable Pope Pius XII, Servant of God Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI all voiced their acceptance of the supernatural origin of the Fátima events in unusually clear and strong terms. After the local bishop had declared that (1) the visions of the three children are credible and (2) the veneration of the Blessed Virgin is permitted, the Portuguese bishops approved and declared the genuine supernatural nature of the event. The Vatican responded with granting indulgences and permitting special Liturgies of the Mass to be celebrated in Fatima. In 1939, Eugenio Pacelli, who was consecrated bishop on 13 May 1917—the day of the first apparition—was elected to the papacy as Pius XII, and became the Pope of Fátima. One year after World War II had started, Sister Lucia asked Pope Pius XII to consecrate the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She repeated this request on 2 December 1940, stating in the year 1929, the Blessed Lady requested in another apparition the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. She promised the conversion of Russia from its errors.
On 13 May 1942, the 25th anniversary of the first apparition and the silver jubilee of the episcopal consecration of Pope Pius XII, the Vatican published the Message and Secret of Fatima. On 31 October 1942, Pope Pius XII, in a radio address, informed the people of Portugal about the apparitions of Fátima, consecrating the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin with specific mention of Russia. (See below) On 8 December 1942, the Pontiff officially and solemnly declared this consecration in a ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. On 13 May 1946, Cardinal Masalla, the personal delegate of Pius XII, crowned in his name Our Lady of Fátima, as the Pope issued a second message about Fatima:
"The faithful virgin never disappointed the trust, put on her. She will transform into a fountain of graces, physical and spiritual graces, over all of Portugal, and from there, breaking all frontiers, over the whole Church and the entire world".
On 1 May 1948, in Auspicia Quaedam, Pope Pius XII requested the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of every Catholic family, parish and diocese.
"It is our wish, consequently, that wherever the opportunity suggests itself, this consecration be made in the various dioceses as well as in each of the parishes and families."
On 18 May 1950, the Pope again sent a message to the people of Portugal regarding Fátima: "May Portugal never forget the heavenly message of Fátima, which, before anybody else she was blessed to hear. To keep Fátima in your heart and to translate Fátima into deeds, is the best guarantee for ever more graces". In numerous additional messages, and in his encyclicals Fulgens Corona (1953), and Ad Caeli Reginam (1954), Pius XII encouraged the veneration of the Virgin in Fatima.
At the end of the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI renewed the consecration of Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and, in an unusual gesture, announced his own pilgrimage to the sanctuary on the fiftieth anniversary of the first apparition. On 13 May 1967, he prayed at the shrine together with Sister Lucia. This historic gesture further cemented the official support for Fátima.
Pope John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life following the assassination attempt on Wednesday, May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima, in 1981. He followed the footsteps of Paul VI, on 12 May 1987, to express his gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life. The following day, he renewed the consecration of Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin.
On 12 and 13 May 2010, Pope Benedict XVI had visited the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima and strongly stated his acceptance about the supernatural origin of the Fátima apparitions. In the first day, the Pope arrived to the Chapel of Apparitions to pray and gave a Golden Rose to Our Lady of Fátima "as a homage of gratitude from the Pope for the marvels that the Almighty has worked through you in the hearts of so many who come as pilgrims to this your maternal home". The Holy Father also recalled the "invisible hand" that saved John Paul II and said in a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary that "it is a profound consolation to know that you are crowned not only with the silver and gold of our joys and hopes, but also with the 'bullet' of our anxieties and sufferings". In the second day, Pope Benedict's homily had pronounced in front of more than 500,000 pilgrims a reference to the Fátima prophecy about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and related it to the final "glory of the Most Holy Trinity".
Fatima Center Mourns the Death of Sister Lucy
Lucy dos Santos, the lone surviving seer of Fatima, died on February 13 at her Carmelite Convent in Coimbra. She was 97 years old.
It is a time of both sadness and joy. A time of sadness, since the world is deprived of the presence of the last surviving seer of Fatima who in 1917 and thereafter received the Message of Our Blessed Mother. A time of joy, as Sister Lucy’s earthly sufferings are over. Our Blessed Mother promised that She would take the three children of Fatima to Heaven, and Our Lady will keep Her word.
There is one aspect of Sister Lucy’s passing that is particularly saddening. She was never given the opportunity to speak publicly about the two most vexing questions regarding the Fatima Message: the Consecration of Russia and the Third Secret of Fatima.
Since 1960, Sister Lucy had been forbidden to speak about the Fatima Message without prior authorization of the Vatican. She died under this imposition of silence with many questions left unanswered.
For more than 15 years, the Fatima Center publicly campaigned to allow Sister Lucy to speak. "It is a pity", said Father Nicholas Gruner, Director of the Fatima Center, "that Sister Lucy was never allowed to either publicly confirm or deny the various statements attributed to her over the last 15 years concerning the Consecration of Russia and the release of the Third Secret."
Since 1989, a fierce campaign has been waged by certain influential members of the hierarchy, that Pope John Paul’s consecration of the world to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart fulfilled Our Lady’s request for the collegial Consecration of Russia. For decades, Sister Lucy repeatedly stated that a consecration of the world would not bring about the promised conversion of Russia. As late as 1985, in an interview in Sol de Fatima, Sister Lucy repeated that the March 1984 consecration of the world did not fulfill Our Lady’s request.
After 1989, letters allegedly from Sister Lucy suddenly started to appear, in which she supposedly said that the 1984 consecration of the world did, in fact, fulfill Our Lady’s request. This contradicted her consistent testimony for 70 years. The authenticity of these letters is highly doubtful, and a number of these letters were proven to be fraudulent.
Yet Sister Lucy was never allowed to state publicly whether she actually said that the consecration has been accomplished. It is clear, moreover, that the consecration has not been fulfilled. Our Lady promised that the consecration would bring about the conversion of Russia and a period of peace would be granted to the world. Russia has not converted to the Catholic Faith, and there is no period of peace. We still face the outstanding warning from Heaven given at Fatima that "various nations will be annihilated" if Our Lady’s requests are not fulfilled.
Similarly, Sister Lucy was never allowed to speak regarding the Third Secret. The Fatima Center, and others, have publicly voiced concern over the version of the Secret released on June 26, 2000. Based on the testimony of those who have read the Secret, it is evident that the entire Secret was not released.
Despite the Fatima Center’s repeated requests for the Vatican to allow Sister Lucy to speak publicly on the Secret, this permission was never granted.
We are left to struggle with these issues. As for Sister Lucy, her ordeal on earth is over. Let us remember her in our prayers, and thank God that in His goodness, He sent Our Lady to Fatima to deliver mankind a Message of warning and hope.
To honor Sister Lucy’s memory, the Fatima Center is now preparing a book on Sister Lucy that will be both a biography of her life and an anthology of her various writings and letters.
The Fatima Center is also having a series of Masses said for Sister Lucy, and for the intention that her mission will continue after her death. Our Lady told Sister Lucy that she was to stay on earth to promote devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
The Fatima Center will continue to promote the devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, and will carry on the work of advancing the full Fatima Message.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul rest in peace, Amen.
Sister Lucia, 97, Last Survivor of Visionary Children of Fátima, Dies
Sister Lucia, the last survivor of the three Portuguese shepherd children who told of a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the village of Fátima in 1917, died on Sunday in her convent in Coimbra, Portugal. She was 97.
A spokeswoman for her order, the Carmelite Sisters, announced her death to the Portuguese news media.
She had lived in near isolation since 1948 in the convent, where she had devoted her life to prayer and meditation.
Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, originally named Lucia Abobora, was born on March 22, 1907, and was 10 when she and her two cousins, Francisco Marto and his sister Jacinta, said they first saw the Virgin in a field on May 13, 1917. Lucia said she was the only one of the three who could hear what the Virgin said.
Their reports, which said the appearances continued for five months, were greeted with skepticism, and the children were even jailed and asked to retract their statements. But their visions were followed by what witnesses described as "the Miracle of the Sun," in which the sun was said to have broken through rain clouds and trembled and spun for 10 minutes, which was taken as confirmation of the visions.
In 1930, Roman Catholic Church officials completed an exhaustive investigation and declared the Fátima apparitions "worthy of belief."
The site became revered, and tens of thousands of Catholics visited the shrine that was built there. Francisco and his sister died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. Sister Lucia lived on to write several memoirs.
In 1942, the church finally disclosed the content of the children's visions, based on letters from Lucia to her bishop in 1936. The first secret revelation was said to be a vision of hell as a warning that people should repent their sins. The second was said to be a warning against Russia's errors and a prophecy that the country would be redeemed by the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
While the visions were reported at a time when the church was under pressure from anticlericalism, Fátima became a shrine for anti-Communists in the context of the Spanish Civil War and the cold war.
The third secret of Fátima, which was not disclosed at the time, became an obsession for those who speculated that it predicted the end of the world or some rift in the church. Three popes learned of the secret as revealed by Sister Lucia, according to the Vatican, and decided not to release it.
Finally, on May 13, 2000, the Vatican secretary of state told an audience of 600,000 that the secret actually referred to the attempted assassination, in 1981, against John Paul II, who figured in the original Fátima vision as "a bishop clothed in white."
Skeptics were not convinced and have continued to speculate that the third secret involves something else.
John Paul, however, accepted that the third secret foretold the attempt on his life and attributed his survival to Our Lady of Fátima. He has since visited the shrine and Sister Lucia several times and has placed the bullet that nearly killed him in the crown of the shrine's statue.
Sister Lucia last spoke in public in May 2000, when the pope visited Fátima to beatify her cousins Jacinta and Francisco, placing them one step away from canonization.
Among her last visitors, in July, was Mel Gibson, who presented her with a DVD of his film "The Passion of the Christ."