Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal (1917)
Our Lady of Fatima, or in Portuguese Nossa Senhora de Fatima, refers to the Marian apparitions that occurred at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. The first apparition occurred on May 13th, and the last occurred on October 13th with the miracle of the sun. In a world where Our Lady has appeared hundreds of times throughout the centuries and worked tens of thousands of miracles, what makes the apparitions at Fatima so extraordinary is the prophecy of a coming world war and the secrets that were entrusted to the children who spoke with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The three children the Blessed Virgin appeared to were Lucia dos Santos, aged 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, aged 9 and 7. They were tending sheep in the Cova de Iria when they saw a woman “brighter than the sun,” who exhorted them to do penance.
The last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima occurred on October 13th, and there were about 70,000 people present for the event, among them atheists who did not believe the stories related by the children. It was a rainy day, and everyone was soaked and the earth was muddy and covered with murky puddles. The rain ceased at the beginning of the apparition, and at one point Lucia called out for everyone to look at the sun. Even the anti-Catholic paper Ordem later wrote:
“…the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws – the sun ‘danced’ according to the typical expression of the people.”
It is almost comical that the unbelievers today will talk about ‘mass hysteria’ or attribute the miracle to merely being an illusion caused by staring at the sun. They conveniently omit from their theories the recorded fact that when the vision of the dancing sun ended the thousands of people who watched the vision and the ground they stood upon were all dry! So many in our day love to pretend that we are superior sophisticates, when the truth is that many are willfully blind, rejecting the Truth until the end rather than amending their lives. So be it.
The Blessed Virgin showed the children a vision of hell, and also 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. If you I say is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war will end, but if men do not cease to offend God a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by a bright and unfamiliar light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish humanity for its crimes by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and the Holy Father. 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. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; 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, and various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
The children were also told that there would be a remarkable sign in the night sky that would precede a second world war. It occurred on January 25th, 1938 as bright lights taken for an aurora borealis that was seen all over the northern hemisphere, including Europe, the United States, and even North Africa. Lucia verified that it was the sign the Blessed Virgin had foretold, and indeed, Hitler invaded Austria within a few months.
The Church has found the apparitions to be worthy of belief, and millions of faithful Catholics have travelled as pilgrims to the shrine at Fatima. Francisco and his sister Jacinta died shortly after the apparitions, while Lucia later became a sister, dying at the convent in 2005 at the age of 97. As if to testify to the truthfulness of the apparitions she had related to the world, the body of Jacinta Marto was exhumed in 1935 and again in 1951, and was found to be incorrupt and surrounded by a pleasant odor on both occasions.