Fatima. One of the most well known apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary that left a lasting impression on not only the Catholic Church, but the whole world.
In 1917 the world was greatly suffering from the turbulence and tragedy of World War I, which would then lead into the rise of the Soviet Union. In the midst of the despair and destruction in Europe, lived three young shepherd children in a little village at the time–Fatima, Portugal. Each child raised in a faithful and pious family, grew up knowing and loving God.
Lucia (10), Francisco (9) and Jacinta’s (7) lives changed on May 13th while they were out playing in a nearby field, and suddenly saw a flash of lightning from which appeared Our Lady.
Lucia describes the experience as being “bathed in a heavenly light that appeared to come directly from her hands. The light’s reality cut into our hearts and our souls, and we knew somehow that this light was God, and we could see ourselves embraced in it. Our Lady revealed that she came from Heaven and that each one of them would one day be with her in Heaven, but first would suffer greatly in their Earthly lives. She asked the children to pray the rosary everyday for peace in the world, and to meet her in the same location on the 13th of each month for the next six months. She told the children they would be her messengers. While all three children could see Our Lady, only the two girls could hear her voice, and would relay the messages to Francisco, and soon the crowds that would gather every month at the apparition site.
The children, especially the oldest Lucia, were greatly questioned and reprimanded by the town authorities and Lucia’s own parents, for “making up silly stories.” They suffered greatly as they saw how their families became outcasts in the town for the visions they were experiencing. However, with great faith, they never denied the apparitions, and continued to stay faithful to the Rosary, and meeting Our Lady on the 13th of every month.
Throughout the months, Our Lady spoke to the children about the importance of the repentance of sins, daily prayer especially the Rosary, and the necessity to pray and fast for the poor sinner’s that do not know and do not love God. Through her messages she revealed three secrets to them that she asked the children to not share until she revealed the time to do so.
The first was a vision of hell, to which the children said they could not bear even for a second, where the souls who reject God suffer in great torment. This caused the children to be devoted to praying and fasting for those souls in hopes that they would be saved from eternal suffering. The second secret was a prophecy that World War I would soon end, but that another worse war would follow unless people would convert and stop insulting God. She implored that Russia would be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. The third secret was revealed to the world in 2000 when the Vatican released Lucia’s written copy of the secret. In short, it revealed a prophetic vision of the Pope being shot and killed by soldiers at the foot of a cross on the top of a mountain. The vision would later be attributed to the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul in St. Peter’s Square on our Feast Of Our Lady of Fatima in 1981. He was shot at 5:13pm on 5/13/1981.
Although the crowds were growing by thousands each month, many still doubted the truth of the events. The children asked the Blessed Virgin for a sign to prove that the apparitions were true to all who did not believe, and she agreed. After the final apparition, occurred the amazing Miracle of the Sun, where the burning sun “danced” around the sky and was witnessed by the 70,000 in attendance that day. Today, around four million people visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in the world, each year, and countless people have been converted.
Our Lady’s messages to the children emphasized the pillars of our Catholic faith: The Blessed Trinity, the Eucharist, penance, the Rosary, and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. This is a call we all have, as followers of Christ. It can be overwhelming at first, but I encourage you to start small- start with one Rosary a week, working your way up to one a day. Our Lady pleads us to do so. It will be a gift to both your soul and your Heavenly Mother.
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