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Our Lady of Fatima

On May 13, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima because on that date in 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared for the first time to three poor children in Fatima, Portugal. Lucia, Francesco, and Jacinta were poor children tending their sheep when they began to first receive visitations by an angel. Then, in May of 1917, they were visited by a beautiful woman who asked them to return on the 13th day of the next five months. On each successive month, the children returned with a large crowd. The Blessed Mother revealed different things to the children throughout the months, including that Jacinta and Francesco would die young, but Lucia would live longer and serve Jesus. Both of these came true; Jacinta and Francesco both died of influenza in the aftermath of WWI, while Lucia became a Carmelite nun and died at the age of 97.

The Blessed Mother's recurring message was one of prayer and repentance. At the time, the world was in the midst of the Great War (WWI) and Russia was on the brink of falling to the Soviets. Mary urged the children to spread her message of prayer to overcome the sin so prevalent in the modern world. She said that widespread use of the rosary would help bring WWI to an end. She also asked for Russia to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, which would convert the country. She warned of dire consequences if her words were not heeded, including another catastrophic war (which would come to fruition only a short twenty years later).

On October 13, 1917, the Blessed Mother made her final appearance and revealed herself as Our Lady of the Rosary. She then produced a miracle for the three children and 70,000 spectators: the miracle of the sun. That day was rainy, but during the miracle, the sky opened up and the sun began to dance across it. The spectators could look directly at the sun without hurting their eyes. The sun then seemed to fall to earth, but soon jumped back up in the sky. When it was all over, everything was dry. 

Our Lady of Fatima is one the most popular Marian devotions in the modern church, probably because of the relevance of her message to the modern world. Whether or not you choose to believe in the apparition or develop a special to devotion to her (the Church has found this apparition worthy of belief, but does not necessitate a belief), Our Lady's message of prayer and repentance is certainly one we should practice. Our Lady of Fatima especially urged the recitation of the rosary, a devotion which countless saints have praised:

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.”  St. Francis de Sales

“Of all prayers the rosary is the most beautiful and the richest in graces…love the Rosary and recite it every day with devotion.”  St. Pius X

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”  St. Dominic

If you currently say the rosary, you probably will recognize the prayer said at the end of each decade: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need of Thy mercy.” This was given by Our Lady during her July apparition, and it is known as the Fatima prayer. 

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


By Anna Neal

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