Fatima

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Fatima is a town in central Portugal, attracting thousands of pilgrims each year, honoring the Virgin Mary. The sanctuary of Fatima features a Neo-Baroque limestone basilica and an esplanade twice the size of St. Peter's Square in Rome[1]

In the spring of 1916, three shepherd children: Lucia dos Santos, age nine and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, ages eight and six, were tending their sheep on a patch of land called the Cabeco. While they were playing a game of pebbles, a strong wind moved through, revealing a transparent figure of a young man hovering over the olive trees. The young man said to them: "Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me."[2] The angel knelt on the ground and asked the children to repeat after him: "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You." After repeating the prayer three times, he arose and before he departed, he told the children: "Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications."[3]

The children were silent about the apparition but for awhile, prayed the Angel's prayer regularly. By the summer of 1916, they had begun to pray less. One day while playing by a well, the Angel appeared again and asked what they were doing? He told them that the most holy hearts of Jesus and Mary had designs of mercy for them. They were to offer prayers and sacrifices to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He was most offended and, to accept and bear with submission the suffering the Lord would send them.[4]

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The third and final appearance of the Angel came in the fall of 1916. Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were in the Cabeco, praying the Angel's prayer when he appeared to them, holding a chalice in his hands with a Host above it, from which drops of Blood fell into the chalice. This time, he instructed the children to say: "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners."[5] The angel then gave the Host to Lucia and the Blood to Jacinta and Francisco.

On Sunday, May 13, 1917, the children were tending their sheep in another patch of land called the Cova da Iria. Seeing what they thought was a flash of lightning, they started to return home when they noticed a Lady, radiantly dressed in white, hovering over a small holmoak tree. She told them not to be afraid, that she was from Heaven and wanted them to come to the Cova da Iria for six months in succession on the 13th day. She asked the children to pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and an end to the first world war, which was taking place at the time.[6]

On July 13, 1917, Our Lady told the children: "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times especially whenever you make a sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for the love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."[7] As she spoke those last words, she opened her hands and pointed to an opening in the ground. The children saw a vision of hell where demons and souls in human form, burned like embers and shrieked with pain and despair. Our Lady told them: "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."[8]"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.[9] If my request are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace.[10] 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 will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.[11] When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need."[12]

The children faced much ridicule from their parents, the townspeople and even faced arrest and intimidation from the local authorities. However, increasing numbers of people did believe and accompanied them on their journeys to the Cova da Iria when they received the apparitions. Our Lady promised the children that on the 13th of October, she would perform a miracle for those who did not believe.

On October 13th, 1917, a crowd of people gathered with Lucia, Francisco and Lucia in the rainy field. Our Lady told the children that she wanted a chapel to be built on the site in her honor; she called herself the Lady of the Rosary. She asked them to continue to pray the Rosary every day. "The war is going to end," she told them, "and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.'[13] Our Lady departed from the children and Lucia told the crowd to look at the sun. The people gathered in the Cova da Iria saw the sun turn into a huge silver disk. It spun like a wheel of fire, then rotated, casting hues of color onto the crowd below. Then, the sun fell from its orbit toward the earth, causing many people to make acts of contrition, thinking it was the end of the world. The sun though retracted and left the rain-soaked crowd dry and many of those who had arrived with infirmities, cured.[14] O Seculo, a free-thinking newspaper would report, "...the sun has trembled...unprecedented and outside of all cosmic laws - the sun has danced..."[15]

Francisco died on April 4th, 1919 from bronchial influenza[16] and Jacinta died February 20th, 1920 following complications from pleurisy.[17] Lucia became a nun and continued to receive apparitions from Our Lady and Jesus. She lived to be 97 and passed away on February 13, 2005 at the Carmelite Convent in Coimbra, Portugal.[18]

Today, Fatima is one of the world's most visited Marian sites. The site of the apparitions of Our Lady in the Cova da Iria is now called the Capelinha. During the evenings, the Rosary is said by visiting pilgrims from all over the world and a candlelight procession in the esplanade follows.

External links

References

  1. Eyewitness travel guides: Portugal, first American edition. Ferdie McDonald (editor). page 184. DK Publishing. 1997.
  2. Our Lady Comes to Fatima. page 3. Leaflet Missal Company. 1987.
  3. ibid. page 4.
  4. ibid. pages 4-5.
  5. ibid. page 5.
  6. Fatima in Lucia's own words (15th edition). Fr. Louis Kondor, SVD, editor. Secretariado Dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, Portugal. pages 174-176.
  7. ibid. page 178.
  8. ibid
  9. Letter from Sister Lucia dos Santos, transcribed by Rev. Fr. José Bernrdo Gonçalves, S.J. June 13, 1929.
  10. Letter from Sister Lucia dos Santos, transcribed by Rev. Fr. José Bernrdo Gonçalves, S.J. June 13, 1929.
  11. Fatima in Lucia's own words (15th edition). Fr. Louis Kondor, SVD, editor. Secretariado Dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, Portugal. pages 179.
  12. ibid
  13. ibid. page 182.
  14. Our Lady Comes to Fatima. page 31. Leaflet Missal Company. 1987.
  15. O Seculo. October 15, 1917.
  16. Our Lady Comes to Fatima. page 34. Leaflet Missal Company. 1987.
  17. ibid. page 39.
  18. http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=35248
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