The Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal
Probably the best known of Our Lady's approved apparitions is the series at Fatima (Portugal) in 1917.
And the most generally memorable of these is the 13th October 1917, when the great Miracle of the Sun occurred.
Offered to the world as proof of the truth and reality of the apparitions each month from 13th May,
it was so spectacular as to possibly overshadow the actual messages, which must never be forgotten.
October 13th, 1917
Let us take a quick trip to that area of undulating bushland, stunted trees and tall grasses, known as Cova Da Iria, a short distance from the old village of Fatima.
The date is October 13th, 1917, the time about midday. The weather is foul. It has been pouring rain for hours. We are standing ankle deep in mud, surrounded by approx. 70,000 people, all soaking wet and miserable, though excited and expectant.
We are here as a result of the words of three young children. They have been claiming that a Lady from Heaven has appeared to them each 13th. of the month starting on 13th. May. Many people including their parents do not believe them. Some believe, but most are undecided. The children have said that today the Lady would tell them who she is, and that she would arrange a great miracle, so that all would believe.
The crowd is getting restless - the time announced for the miracle has come and gone.
Half an hour goes by, then one hour, then two. Many want to pack up and go home, but are afraid they may miss something. We feel the same, yet we want to believe, but fear that we will be disappointed - that it is all a hoax, or a gigantic mistake.
The Dance of the Sun
Suddenly a scream - is it of terror or joy?
People are pointing up to the sky. The rain clouds have parted, and the sun is in full view. I can look directly at it without hurting my eyes. Suddenly it begins to zigzag, it spins on its axis. Coloured beams are flashing from it in all directions- red yellow, green, blue, and golden.
I tear my eyes away from this spinning colour wheel, and look at the people around me, to see their reactions. Their faces reflect absolute astonishment, fear and joy all mixed up. Their faces and clothes take on the various colours emanating from the sun - now yellow, now blue, now green.
I hear more screams of terror, and see people looking skyward, falling to their knees, some closing their eyes against the terrible sight of the sun now gyrating wildly, wrenching itself from the heavens and crashing towards earth.
I fear this is truly the end of the world. Then just as suddenly, the sun returns to its normal place in the sky, stops spinning, and again becomes so dazzling that I cannot look at it.
Instantly my clothes are dry, and my shoes are clean. Nowhere is there any mud to be seen, nowhere any wet people - everything is completely dry.
This is the miracle which most people remember, but it is only one of many miracles to come from Fatima, and it is not the most important or even to those who know, the most spectacular.
Our Lady's Visits
Going right back to the start of the Fatima episodes, an angel appeared three times to the children, to prepare them for the visits of our Blessed Mother. This was in 1916.
Then there are the different visits of Our Lady, on 13th. May ,13th. June, 13th.July, 19th. August, 13th. September and 13th.October.
Then after the 1917 visits, there were more visits by Our Lady to Lucia.
Let us do a quick review of some of the other incidents and miracles of the Fatima saga.
JUST A FEW MONTHS LATER, ALMOST INEXPLICABLY, THE COMMUNIST EMPIRE BEGINS TO CRUMBLE.
- In 1916 on three separate occasions, an Angel appeared to the three children,
to prepare them for the coming of Our Lady.
- In 1917, on the 13th. of each month from May to October, Our Lady appeared to
the three children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. On 13th. August, the children
had been taken into captivity by the Administrator of Ourem, in a vain attempt
to get them to reveal a secret which Our Lady had given them. So in August she
appeared to them on 19th.On the 13th. October, as promised, she told them who
she was - "I am the Lady of the Rosary"
- December 10th. 1925. Our Lady, with the child Jesus at her side, appeared to
Lucia, and requested the devotion of the Five First Saturdays.
- June 13th. 1929, a most momentous event! Our Lady appeared to Lucia (now Sister Lucia)
in Tuy, Spain. She asked for the Pope, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to consecrate
Russia to her Immaculate Heart. By this means she promised to prevent Russia spreading her errors
(Godless Communism) throughout the world, and to bring about its conversion. Remember 1917 was the
year of the Communist Revolution, as well as the same year as the Apparitions at Fatima. That was
no coincidence, but divine design.
- October 31st. 1942. Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
broadcasting over Portuguese Radio.
- July 7th. 1952. Pope Pius XII consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
- November 21st. 1964. During the Vatican II Council, Pope Paul VI renews Pope Pius XII's
consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He does this alone, even though in the
presence of the Council Fathers.
- March 25, 1984. Pope John Paul II is joined by almost all the Bishops in the world, and
consecrates the world (therefore including Russia) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Soon afterwards,
Sister Lucia told the papal Nuncio of Lisbon that this consecration was accepted by God, as meeting
the conditions necessary. She also said that the previous consecrations (1942,1952 and 1964) had not
been successful, as they were not performed by the Pope and all the Bishops at the same time, as
Our Lady had requested.
- July 1989. Sister Lucia began to go public stating that the Collegial Consecration of Russia requested by
Our Lady had been accomplished, and "God will keep His word"
A young friend of mine was in Germany in late 1989,
and got some pieces of the Berlin Wall, as it was coming down, and gave one to me. I never knew why
until today, but here is a genuine piece of the Berlin Wall.
Sister Lucia also believes that the Collegial Consecration of Russia, by the Pope ,
and all the bishops of the world, also contains the seeds of Christian unity. That may
yet become a further miracle from Our Lady's Fatima apparitions.
The Secrets of Fatima
- Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Cardinal Ratzinger, in commenting on the Third Secret, says that "in Biblical language, the heart indicates
the centre of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the
person finds his unity and his interior orientation. According toMatthew5:8, the 'immaculate heart' is a
heart that, with God's grace, has come to perfect interior unity and therefore, sees God.
- The Vision of Hell.
Yes, Hell does exist, and so does Purgatory. They are both mentioned
many times in the Bible. And now since the Devil (who also exists, and is a real spirit also mentioned plenty
of times in the Bible) has been able to lull many people into believing that neither he, nor hell nor Purgatory
are real, Our Lady shows the children a frightening vision of hell, so that we may all believe.
The Third Secret
- The third secret was known only to the three children.
In 1943 it was written down and given to the Pope. There was a story that it was to be revealed to
the world in 1960, at the discretion of the Pope. Consequently there was worldwide interest in the
secret - many speculating that it contained news of a great war, or natural disaster, or even the
end of the world.
In 1960, Pope John XXIII read the message, sealed the envelope, and did not reveal any of the secret.
This brought a whole rash of cries from all over the world. "Why doesn't the Pope tell us the
secret - is it just too horrible?" And further speculation arose - different people claiming that
they had worked out what it was all about.
I have two books, written at different periods by different
people, both of whom were convinced that they had worked out what the secret was, and yet neither was correct.
In May 2000, Pope John Paul II finally announced to the world the third secret of the Fatima Apparitions.
It was a strange vision which Lucia had had, concerning a man dressed in white, walking up a mountain
surrounded by corpses, and buildings in ruin. At the top of the mountain the man is shot, and dies.
Angels come and sprinkle the blood of the martyrs on the souls as they arise towards heaven.
When the Pope first read the secret, he thought that it referred to him, as being the figure in
white who was shot. (You may recall there was an assassination attempt on the Pope's life on 13th. May 1981.)
But it appears that the secret when interpreted properly refers to all the Popes of the twentieth century,
and to the troubled times through which the Church is travelling at the moment.
Those who were expecting some prediction of the end of the world, or another great war, or some other natural
disaster, would be disappointed. The secret ends on a hopeful note, with the angels gathering up the blood of the
martyrs, and with it, giving life to the souls making their way to God.
Documents on Fatima and The Memoirs of Sister Lucia
1992 - Fatima Family Apostolate USA
A Litany of Mary
Ann Ball - Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Huntington, Indiana USA
Fatima - The Astonishing Truth
1993 - Frere Francois de Marie des Anges - Immaculate Heart Publications, PO Box 1028, Buffalo NY USA
Blessed Art Thou
1984 - Richard J Beyer - Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA
Dictionary of Mary
1985 Catholic Book Publishing Co NJ USA
More About Fatima
1950 - Rev V. Montes de Oca CSSp - MH Gill and Son, 50 Upper O'Connell St, Dublin, Ireland
Shrines of Our Lady
1998 - Peter Mullen - Butler and Tanner Ltd, Frome, Somerset, England
Fatima in Lucia's Own Words
1989 - Postulation Centre, Fatima, Portugal
Recent Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1952 - Stephen Breen - T and H Pty Ltd, 24 Jamison St., Sydney, Australia
Jesus and Mary Call - Do You Hear?
Hampton Marian Centre, 261 Hampton St., Hampton, Vic. Australia