Saturday, 12 February 2011

Our Lady of Fatima – Part 2

Continued from Our Lady of Fatima - Part 1

13 August 1917

On 13 August 1917 the children were unable to keep their appointment with Our Lady because they were kidnapped by the Mayor of Ourem, Artur de Oliveira Santos, who was a Freemason. As a member of the Leira Masonic Lodge he had founded a branch in Ourem, the administrative centre of the area which included Fatima. Duty bound to his beliefs, his Lodge, and his position, Artur saw it as his responsibility to quash the religious fervour that was breaking out in his territory.

The Mayor offered the children money and other blandishments to try and get them to disclose their secrets. When this didn’t work he became more intimidating. He threw them into the town’s public jail and threatened to kill them by boiling them in hot oil if they didn’t reveal him their secrets. The children bravely refused, determined they would rather die than disclose anything. Eventually the Mayor released the children and took them back to Fatima on 15 August, the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady.

19 August 1917

On 19 August 1917, while the children were grazing their flock in Valinhos, near Fatima, Our Lady appeared to them on another holm-oak tree.

Lucia asked the customary question, "What do you want of me?"

"I want you to continue going to the Cova da Iria on the 13th, and to continue praying the Rosary every day. In the last month, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe."

"What do you want done with the money the people leave in the Cova da Iria?"

"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 ‘festa’ of Our Lady of the Rosary, and what is left over will help to towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built here."

Lucia asked Our Lady if she could cure certain sick people. Our Lady replied she will cure some of them during the year. Then, looking very sad, she added, "Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them."

There was no light from Our Lady's hands during this Apparition, and she simply rose and disappeared towards the east.

13 September 1917

Between August and September, the children devised dozens of sacrifices to offer in reparation and for the conversion of sinners. Often these sacrifices caused them much suffering.

A crowd of around thirty thousand gathered in the Cova for the September Apparition. As the children arrived, people pleaded with them to ask Our Lady to cure ailments they or their loved ones were suffering. Members of the anti-religious press were there too, and one of them even had the audacity to snip off Lucia’s long plaits with a pair of scissors.

It wasn't long after the children arrived that Our Lady appeared to them, standing on the holm-oak tree. She said, "Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Dolours and Our Lady of Carmel. St Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices. He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only wear it during the day time."

When Lucia asked Our Lady for various cures, she replied: "Yes, I will cure some, but not others. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe." Then she simply rose, moved off to the east and disappeared.

13 October 1917

The news of an expected miracle had spread all around Portugal, and created a great deal of speculation, so that on 13 October 1917 a huge crowd of around 70,000 people, from many different parts of the country, assembled at the Cova. At a time when there was no television, radio, internet or mass transport this was all the more remarkable, and they had to contend with torrential rain.

The children had trouble getting through the crowd to the tree; but once they were there, Lucia, moved as she says by an interior impulse, asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary. It wasn’t long before their heavenly visitor appeared in her usual position.

"What do you want of me?" Lucia asked.

"I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honour. 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."

Lucia asked Our Lady to cure various sick people, to which she replied, "Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins." Then looking very sad, she added, “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”

Then Our Lady began to rise towards the east, but while doing so she opened her hands and made them reflect on the sun. As she disappeared, her own light continued to be reflected on the sun. Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco did not see the famous "Miracle of the Sun" that followed; instead they saw various Apparitions of Our Lady, St Joseph and Jesus.

Miracle of the Sun

The vast crowd witnessed a spectacular miracle, which is well documented and will forever be associated with Fatima. Many eyewitnesses reported seeing the dark clouds part and the sun appearing as an opaque, spinning disc in the sky, which could be looked at without any discomfort. The sun cast multicoloured lights across the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. Then it seemed to careen towards the earth in a zigzag pattern, frightening some of those present who thought it was the end of the world.

The journalist Avelino de Almeida, who had previously written a satirical article about the Apparitions in the anti-religious pro-government newspaper O Seculo, was forced to change his tune after the miracle. This is his description of what happened:

"From the road, where the vehicles were parked and where hundreds of people who had not dared to brave the mud were congregated, one could see the immense multitude turn toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver, and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up, and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: 'A miracle! A miracle!'

Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people.

Standing at the step of an omnibus was an old man. With his face turned to the sun, he recited the Credo in a loud voice. I asked who he was and was told Senhor Joao da Cunha Vasconcelos. I saw him afterwards going up to those around him who still had their hats on, and vehemently imploring them to uncover before such an extraordinary demonstration of the existence of God.

Identical scenes were repeated elsewhere, and in one place a woman cried out: 'How terrible! There are even men who do not uncover before such a stupendous miracle!'

People then began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the trembling and the dancing of the sun; others affirmed that they saw the face of the Blessed Virgin; others, again, swore that the sun whirled on itself like a giant Catherine wheel and that it lowered itself to the earth as if to burn it in its rays. Some said they saw it change colours successively...."

The solar activity was also reported by people up to 18km from Fatima, ruling out the possibility of a mass hallucination. Some people, including believers, saw nothing at all. Another interesting but important fact is that the heat of the sun, as it descended on the people, had the effect of drying their clothes and the ground, so that they went from being completely soaked to being dry in ten minutes. Since there were no reports of unusual solar activity anywhere else, the only valid explanation is that the crowd in Fatima witnessed a true miracle.

Private Apparitions

Jacinta and Francisco were to depart from this world early just as Our Lady had indicated; both succumbed to the effects of the influenza epidemic that swept Europe as the Great War came to an end. Lucia became a religious sister; she joined the Dorothean Congregation initially but later joined the Carmelites. Although the 'public' Apparitions came to an end in October 1917, Our Lady did appear to the children privately, thus keeping her word that she would never abandon them.

On 10 December 1925, when Lucia was in her room on the second storey of the Dorothean Convent, she saw an Apparition of Our Lady with the Infant Jesus. Mary told Lucia to announce that she promised all the graces necessary for salvation to those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, confessed, received Holy Communion, recited five decades of the Rosary, and meditated on the Rosary for fifteen minutes, all with the intention of making reparation to her.

In another Apparition on 13 June 1929, Mary told Lucia to ask the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart that she had spoken of during the July 1917 Apparition.

In August 1931, Our Lord, in a private communication to Lucia, complained: "They have not chosen to heed my request...Like the King of France, they will regret it and then will do it, but it will be too late. Russia will already have spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer." The reference to the King of France is thought to be the failure of King Louis XIV to consecrate France to The Sacred Heart, as revealed by St Margaret Mary Alacoque, and the French Revolution was the outcome.

On 25 January 1938, a strange light was seen in the skies all over Europe. This was described as a brilliant display of the Aurora Borealis, but Sr Lucia realised it was the "unknown light" announced by Our Lady in the July Apparition. This meant punishment for the world was close, principally through the Second World War, because people had not turned back to God.

Consecration of Russia

On 31 October 1942 Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a Portuguese language radio broadcast. Although he didn’t specifically mention Russia, because it would have been politically imprudent to do so, he referred to "those people separated by error and discord." Sr Lucia said that this did not fulfil Our Lady’s request because it lacked the participation of all the bishops.

Further attempts to consecrate Russia were made by Pope John XXIII in 1960 and Pope Paul VI in 1965, but again they did not properly fulfil the terms of Our Lady’s request. Finally on 25 March 1984 in Rome, on the feast of the Annunciation, Pope John II consecrated the whole world, "especially the peoples for which by reason of their situation you have particular love and solicitude," to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Although he didn’t specifically mention Russia, he meant Russia when he said "the peoples…" Sr Lucia said that this attempt, made in union with all the bishops of the world, fulfilled Our Lady’s request and was accepted in heaven.

In a private correspondence, Sr Lucia further revealed that the 1984 consecration of Russia prevented a nuclear war that would have taken place in 1985. Historical records show that the United States of America and Russia did indeed come very close to such a war in the mid 1980s.

Fatima today

In 1930 Bishop Correia of the Diocese of Leiria, which includes Fatima, after careful investigation of the events there, formally approved the Apparitions. The Catholic Church generally takes a very cautious line in approving any apparition. Despite hundreds of claims of purported apparitions in the twentieth century, just eight received Church approval. Only if there are clear signs that an apparition is of supernatural origin is it approved, and in the case of Fatima this was deemed to be the case.

The messages given by Our Lady, the characters involved and the famous Miracle of the Sun are what make Fatima such an important Marian shrine. At a time when regimes seemed determined to bury God and persecute the Church, Our Lady stepped in to start something of a counter-revolution in the hearts and minds of people, and she chose the most unlikely candidates to implement it. What this shows is that heaven’s values are opposite to ours, and God is ultimately in control.

The revolution Mary started in 1917 continues to the present day, for many millions of pilgrims still visit Fatima every year. A beautiful neoclassical basilica stands at the site of the Apparitions. Consecrated in October 1953, the basilica houses the tombs of the three children – Blessed Francisco Marto, Blessed Jacinta Marto and Sr Lucia dos Santos. Scenes of the Apparitions are shown in stained glass. A second larger basilica has recently been opened to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims. The message of Fatima has spread wide and continues to do so.


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Jl,

You have done an amazing research work,very thorough and very deep.On reading this my hair stood on ends. Our Lady always appeared to save mankind from God's wrath. I think she has brought more people to God than perhaps even all the apostles and disciples put together. Thousands and thousands of pilgrims visit Vailankanni ever year.They belong to all religions. I was totally inspired by my recent visit and I am planning to go there again before the rainy season starts in Tamilnadu.

I greatly appreciate and admire the gigantic work you have done to write in such great detail about Fatima.

Best wishes,

JI said...

Hi Joseph,

I'm glad you liked my write-up about Fatima. I'm hoping to go there later this year, so I wanted to be prepared. I find all the approved Marian apparitions absolutely fascinating. Fatima happens to be a very important because of the alarming messages given there. There are many people, including myself, who think that we haven't seen the complete fulfilment of the Fatima prophecies. Russia may be consecrated but I don't think she has converted yet. It is still the abortion capital of the world. How that conversion happens remains to be seen.

You are right. Our Lady has brought so many people to God, and she has done it in such a lovely way. I've heard that in Vailankanni some people report miraculous cures, which is why she is also known there as Our Lady of Good Health. Maybe next time I go to India I will visit Vailankanni.

Best wishes,