Our Lady of Fatima, also known as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Fátima, is a Catholic designation for Mary, the mother of Jesus.
It is based on reported Marian apparitions that occurred in 1917 to three shepherd children – Lúcia dos Santos, age 9, born on March 22, 1907, Francisco, age 8, born on June 11, 1908, and Jacinta Marto, age 6, born on March 11, 1910 – at the Cova da Iria in Fátima, Portugal.
The Bishop of Leiria, José Alves Correia da Silva, affirmed the veracity of the events on October 13th, 1930.
We celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13 every year in the Catholic Church.
Our Lady of Fatima is the Patron Saint of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leiria-Fátima
|Our Lady of Fatima – Feast Day – May 13|
|Feast Day||May 13|
|Patron Saint of||Roman Catholic Diocese of Leiria-Fátima|
Our Lady of Fatima History
In the spring of 1916, three shepherd children – Lúcia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta Marto – reported seeing an angel three times in the town of Valinhos, Portugal.
On 13 May 1917, the children reported seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary for the first time in the Cova da Iria, a field near their home village of Fatima. The children described her as “a Lady more brilliant than the Sun”.
According to the children’s accounts, they saw a woman who was more radiant than the sun. She emitted rays of light that were more luminous and stronger than the most sparkling water in a crystal goblet that was being pierced by the sun’s scorching rays.
The woman wore a white cloak with golden borders and held a rosary in her hand. She urged the children to dedicate themselves to the Holy Trinity and to pray the Rosary every day to bring about world peace and put an end to the ongoing war.
Although the children had previously kept the sighting of an angel to themselves, Jacinta disclosed the experience of seeing the brightly-lit woman to her family.
Lúcia had earlier instructed the trio to keep the experience confidential. However, Jacinta’s skeptical mother shared the information with neighbors as a joke, and the news about the children’s vision quickly spread throughout the entire village in less than a day.
The children mentioned that the woman instructed them to come back to the Cova da Iria on June 13, 1917.
Lúcia’s mother consulted with Father Ferreira, the parish priest, who advised her to let them go and asked to see Lúcia afterward for questioning.
The second apparition took place on June 13, which is also the feast day of the local parish church’s patron, Saint Anthony.
According to Lúcia, during this encounter, the woman revealed that Francisco and Jacinta would soon go to Heaven, but Lúcia would remain on earth for a longer period to spread the message and promote devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The prophecies were extensively covered in newspapers, which attracted a large number of pilgrims to the site.
However, the children’s testimonies were highly disputed and faced severe condemnation from both secular and religious authorities in the region.
In fact, a local official briefly detained the children, suspecting that their predictions were politically motivated and aimed at countering the officially secular First Portuguese Republic, which came into being in 1910.
Lúcia’s mother was hopeful that the officials could convince the children to stop with the story and confess that they had made it up.
Lúcia disclosed everything to Santos, except for the secrets, and suggested that she could ask the woman for permission to reveal the secrets to the officials.
In August of that year, the children did not have their usual encounter with the Virgin Mary on 13 August at the Cova da Iria, but instead claimed to have seen her on Sunday, 19 August, in Valinhos, a nearby area.
During this apparition, the Virgin Mary once again urged them to pray the rosary every day and spoke about the upcoming miracle in October.
She also emphasized the need to pray and sacrifice for sinners, as many souls are lost because no one is praying or making sacrifices for them.
During the period from 13 May to 13 October 1917, the three children asserted that they had witnessed a total of six apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Additionally, Lúcia recounted a seventh Marian apparition that occurred at Cova da Iria. In these apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary instructed them to meet with her at the same time on the thirteenth day of each month for six months, during which she would reveal her identity and purpose.
The Virgin Mary reportedly appeared to the three children on July 13, 1917, and informed them that she would perform a miracle that would be seen by everyone, which would help people believe.
She showed them a vision of Hell and explained that in order to save the souls of sinners, God wanted people to have devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
If people followed her requests, many souls would be saved, and there would be peace, and the war would come to an end.
The blessed virgin Mary told the children that if people continued to offend God, a worse war would occur during the reign of Pius XI.
She said that a night illuminated by an unknown light would be a sign of punishment from God for the world’s crimes, and it would result in war, hunger, and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.
To avoid this, she said she would come and request the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
According to the message given by the blessed virgin Mary to the children, if people listen to her requests, Russia will embrace the faith and there will be peace in the world.
However, if people do not pay attention to her requests, Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, leading to wars and persecutions of the Church, martyrdom of the good, and suffering of the Holy Father, resulting in destruction of various nations.
Nevertheless, in the end, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph, and the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to her, which will be converted, leading to a certain period of peace in the world.
She also told them that when praying the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need.
On October 13, 1917, the children were told by the Blessed Virgin Mary that she is the Lady of the Rosary and that she has come to warn the faithful to change their ways and ask for forgiveness for their sins.
She implored people to stop offending God, who is already gravely offended by the sins of humanity. The people should continue to say the Rosary every day, and the Virgin Mary requested that a chapel be built in her honor at that location. She also predicted that the war would end soon.
On October 13, 1917, a large group of people, including journalists and photographers, gathered at Cova da Iria after reports in some newspapers claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for her final apparition. The event that occurred later became known as the “Miracle of the Sun”.
Francisco and Jacinta Marto passed away during the global flu outbreak that began in 1918 and lasted for two years.
Francisco died on April 4, 1919, at the age of ten, while Jacinta passed away at nine years old in Queen Stephanie’s Children’s Hospital in Lisbon on February 20, 1920.
Olímpia Marto, their mother, claimed that her children had predicted their own deaths multiple times to her and other curious pilgrims after the Marian apparitions.
When Lúcia was fourteen years old in 1922, she was enrolled at the Sisters of Saint Dorothy (Dorothean) school in Vilar, which is located in a suburb of Porto, Portugal.
Later in 1928, she became a postulant at the Sisters of Saint Dorothy convent in Tui, Spain, near the Portugal border.
Throughout her life, Lúcia continued to experience private visions at intervals. In 1947, Sister Lúcia left the Dorothean Order and joined the Discalced Carmelite Order at a monastery in Coimbra, Portugal. She passed away on 13 February 2005, at the age of 97.
The Miracle of the Sun, which was widely reported, quickly turned Fátima into a significant pilgrimage destination.
On the precise spot where the Marian apparitions had occurred, a small chapel named Capelinha was built by the locals where the holm oak had stood.
In 1924, a hostel for the sick was started. The first rector of the sanctuary was appointed in 1927, and a series of Stations of the Cross were established along the mountain road.
The next year, construction of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary began nearby, with the laying of the foundation stone.
In 1930, the Catholic Church officially acknowledged the apparition occurrences as “credible” and bestowed a papal indulgence upon pilgrims who visited Fátima.
The bodies of the child visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta, were reburied in the new basilica in 1935.
Pope Pius XII granted a Canonical Coronation to the statue of Our Lady of Fátima on May 13, 1946.
Pilgrimages to the Fátima site occur throughout the year in the 21st century. The main pilgrimages happen on the thirteenth day of each month between May and October to commemorate the anniversaries of the initial apparitions.
The most significant gatherings take place on 13 May and 13 October, attracting the largest crowds.
To summarize, the Three Secrets of Fátima include a vision of Hell, a recommendation for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and a vision of the death of the Pope and other religious figures.
The first secret was experienced on July 4, 1917, and the second predicted an end to World War I but a worse war if people continued to offend God.
The third secret was kept secret by the Vatican and sparked many theories, but it was later revealed to be a vision of the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, which he attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Fátima.
Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima
Oh, Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of the revered Rosary, you graciously chose to manifest yourself to the children of Fatima and disclose a message of great splendor.
We beseech you, to ignite within our hearts a passionate love for the recitation of the Rosary. As we contemplate the mysteries of redemption that it encompasses, may we receive the graces and virtues we seek, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
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