Today is the 99th Anniversary of the beginning of the apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. It is also the twentieth anniversary of my pilgrimage there where Our Lady intervened in my life so powerfully. This blog is a direct result of what happened to me there. Without the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, I would not be here today and my life would have turned out much differently. Today's post is brief introduction to Fatima and what happened there in 1917.
To begin with, apparitions of Our Lady are nothing new in the Church. The first recorded apparition of the Virgin Mary supposedly took place way back in the day when she and the Apostles were still alive. In the year 70 AD, Our Lady, so the legend says, was carried up on the wings of angels to what is now Spain where Saint James the Great was preaching and trying to establish what would eventually become the Spanish and Portuguese Churches of the Iberian Peninsula.
As the story goes, she appeared to James and told him that it was the wish of her Son that James return to Jerusalem to be martyred. As a token of her affection, she left with him an intricately carved jasper pillar. The Spanish people still venerate this pillar today in the town of Zaragoza, Spain.
Throughout the ages there are reports of apparitions of Our Lady all over the world. Of importance to all the Americas was her apparition in 1531 to Saint Juan Diego in Guadalupe to tell the people of the New World that she was their Mother, too. Both European and Native people were her children, she assured them. Of what had they to be afraid?
“Am I not here? I who am your mother?” she gently reminded them.
A record 8,000,000 Aztecs were converted to Christ within five years, thus ending the bloody sacrifices to the satanic serpent-god Quetzalcoatl, whose ravenous appetite claimed the lives of 10,000 young men each year.
Similarly, Lourdes is the little French hamlet where Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 amid the trash heaps of the Massabielle grotto calling herself as the “Immaculate Conception.” At the spot where she appeared there arose a miraculous spring which has given comfort and healing to millions around the world. The story was even novelized by a Jew who sought refuge in Lourdes from the Nazi horrors of World War II. Called The Song of Bernadette, the novel later became a strikingly beautiful Academy-award winning American film.
It has been speculated that the twentieth century had seen more apparitions of Mary than all the other centuries combined. Certainly she has come to comfort Christ’s people during times of distress. She comforted the citizens of the war-torn village of Beaurang, France, warned of impending chastisement in Akita, Japan (ironically, the epicenter of the great Japan earthquake of 2011), and blessed and healed the sick in Betania, Venezuela, just to name a few. In former Yugoslavia, in the village of Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, believers say she came in 1981 as the “Queen of Peace” to a Europe that would soon see its greatest carnage since World War II.
She has even crossed denominational lines, apparently appearing in a startling fashion above a Coptic Orthodox Church in Zeitoun, Egypt, bowing, blessing and holding out an olive branch of peace as thousands of Muslims, Protestants, Jews, Orthodox and Catholics watched in awe.
It has even been reported that the abandoned churches of the Soviet Union shone with strange and otherworldly lights just before the communism toppled in 1991. Many reported seeing a mysterious and luminous Lady on the premises. More recently, there are reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the war-torn ISIS-controlled regions of the Middle East.
But none of these sites even comes close to matching the worldwide and significance of Our Lady of Fatima. It was in 1917 that Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children, (Lucia Dos Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto) over a period of six months, culminating with a prophesied miracle of Biblical proportions in October of that year.
During the course of the apparitions which began in May and ended in October, Our Lady confided a secret in three parts to the children. In the first part, the children experienced to joy of Heaven followed by a nightmarish vision of hell.
She explained to the horrified children, “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in world devotion to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.”
The second “secret” contained assurances that World War I would end but that another and worse war would follow if the people of the world did not repent and turn back to God.
“When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign that God is about to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father,” Our Lady warned.
The said light occurred in on January 25, 1938 when the aurora borealis was seen in much of the northern hemisphere. Lucia, then the only surviving seer, confirmed that this was the prophesied sign. A month later, Hitler invaded Austria.
She further prophesied that Russia would begin a new evil that could only be stopped by Russia’s consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which was accomplished by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1984. Just five short years later, the world watched in awe as the Berlin Wall toppled down without a shot and communism self-destructed peacefully. One of the most repressive, Godless and cruel empires the world has ever seen met its end with a whimper. But, critics claim that the requested consecration was done late and as a result, many millions died under the tyranny of Soviet Russia.
As Our Lady predicted, “If Russia is not converted then she will spread her errors throughout the world and there will be wars and persecutions. The good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer. Various nations will be annihilated.”
Thus, although Russia no longer calls herself communist, we still await her conversion and indeed the godless materialism, modernism, relativism and atheism, errors championed by the Scarlet Soviet Harlot have crept into nearly all aspects of life in many countries throughout the world, especially very recently, the United States.
Linked with this is the famous and controversial “Third Secret of Fatima” which supposedly prophesied the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II that occurred on May 13, 1981, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Our Lady also prophesied a time of great suffering in the Church in the latter half of the 20th century and the 21st century.
To the doubters, she prophesied to the three children, “In October, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”
It was October 13, 1917 just weeks before the Russian Revolution. An estimated 70,000 people were gathered in the Cova da Iria to be present for the final apparition. Suddenly the drenching rains that had soaked the earth all night stopped and Lucia, the eldest visionary, pointed to the sky. The sun had come out and began gyrating wildly and throwing off all the colors of the rainbow as it appeared to plunge toward the people. Many thought the end of the world had come and sought shelter where they could.
Others confessed their sins in public while still others simply watched in shock. After the sun finished its dazzling performance and appeared as if it would collide with the earth, it suddenly pulled back and resumed its normal position in the sky. The soaked ground was now completely dry. Newspapers around the world covered what was now called the “dance of the sun” and ironically, it was Portugal’s anti-Church government propaganda newspapers which provided some of the best accounts of the miracle.
One such account was rendered by Avelino de Almeida, Editor-in-Chief of O Seculo, the anticlerical and Masonic Lisbon newspaper. In the October 15th edition of the paper, he wrote:
"From the road, where the cars were packed together, and several hundred people had remained, not having had the courage to advance towards the muddy field, one could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared at its zenith, coming out of the clouds…It resembles a dull silver disc, and it is possible to fix one’s eyes on it without the least damage to the eye. It does not burn the eyes. It does not blind them. One might say that an eclipse was taking place…An immense clamour bursts out, and those who are nearer to the crowd hear a shout: 'Miracle! Miracle! Marvel!... Marvel!...' The attitude of the people takes us back to biblical times. Stupefied and with heads uncovered, they watch the blue sky. Before their dazzled eyes the sun trembled, the sun made unusual and brusque movements, defying all the laws of the cosmos, and according to the typical expression of the peasants, 'the sun danced'…"
Obviously, Almeida’s account was called into question by members of the hostile press. Nonetheless, he stuck to his story and repeated it two weeks later in Illustraçao Portuguesa:
"What did I see at Fatima that was even stranger? The rain, at an hour announced in advance, ceased falling; the thick mass of clouds dissolved; and the sun – a dull silver disc – came into view at its zenith, and began to dance in a violent and convulsive movement, which a great number of witnesses compared to a serpentine dance, because the colors taken on by the surface of the sun were so beautiful and gleaming…Miracle, as the people shouted? A natural phenomenon, as the learned would say? For the moment, I do not trouble myself with finding out, but only with affirming what I saw... The rest is a matter between Science and the Church."
What is more, the miracle was even witnessed by those not present at Fatima. Many of people in the surrounding villages also appeared to have observed the phenomenon. It was even seen outside of Portugal by Venerable Pope Pius XII himself who is said at one point to have witnessed the miracle of the sun from the Vatican gardens.
However, despite “miracles” and prophecy, the true heart of the Fatima message is a profound conversion to Jesus Christ. Even at the Basilica itself, the chapel marking the spot where the apparition is said to have occurred sits off to the side. In the center of the plaza is a stone column atop of which stands a golden statue of Jesus Christ with his hands extended in blessing. At the base of the column are four faucets, which dispense water from a spring said by some accounts to be miraculous. Regardless of the nature of the spring, the symbolism is beyond dispute. From Christ flows living water.
The message of Fatima is the message of the Gospel. It can be summed up in two verses. The first is, “Unless you repent, you will likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). The second verse is from Matthew’s Gospel (26:41), “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Thus, it was at this great shrine, called by the popes, the “altar of the world,” which Christ had seen fit to thrust into the middle of cosmic and global affairs that I found the beginnings of my healing journey.
Thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady of Fatima!
Read my personal story of what happened at Fatima here.