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The Story and Message of Our Lady of Fatima
"Fatima is one of the greatest signs of the times in the 20th century because it announces many of the later events, and conditions them on the response to it's appeals," said the Pope in his Fatima letter of October 13, 1991 (Osservatore Romano, October 24, 1991). His Holiness said the greatness of Fatima lies not so much in the miracle, but that it offers the specific response necessary to save mankind from self-destruction.
Many books have been written about the miracle and about these messages which are of vital importance to every man, woman and child on earth. To better know the message of Fatima, and to continue to discover its meaning in relation to current events, we present here all the words of the apparitions, with answers to some of the questions.
The First Apparition
In the Spring of 1916, a year before the appearance of Our Lady of Fatima, God sent an angel three times to prepare the three children to whom Our Lady would soon appear. The children were Sister Lucia (still living in 2001) and her cousins, Blessed Francisco and Jacinta. (Ed. note: Sr. Lucia still living in Coimbra, Portugal 2003.)
The angel in the first apparition said: "Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me." Prostrating himself on the ground the angel prayed three times: "My God, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love You. I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, and do not love You."
Then the angel rose and said: "Pray in this way. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to your supplications." The children were speechless with awe. The words of the angel's prayer were imbedded in their memories.
"Angel" means messenger. God sent His angel before the appearance of the Queen of the World at Fatima to deliver the message that Our Lady Herself would afterwards affirm with a warning, a promise, and a great miracle.
In this first apparition the Angel does not identify himself by his name but by his mission. He is the "Angel of Peace." Peace for mankind is the promise of Fatima. Appearing a year later Our Lady said that if the world responds to Her Fatima message "An era of peace will be granted to mankind." More recently Sister Lucia has said that all the wars of the past century, after the Fatima apparitions, could have been avoided if the world had responded.
"Pray with Me"
The Angel of Peace invites us to pray with him. When we pray for the reign of God in the world, all the angels and saints are joined with us in that prayer. He asks us to pray in reparation for all who deny God, and to believe, to adore, to trust, and to love Him. It is a message not just for Catholics. It is a basic message delivered by God's Angel of Peace to all the people of the earth. The last part of the Fatima message (the Third Secret), made public on June 26, 2000, reveals that if the message of the Angel of Peace continues to be ignored, the Angel of Justice stands ready to cast fire upon the earth.
The Sacred Hearts
The Angel of Peace concluded his message with reference to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He said these Sacred Hearts eagerly await the prayer of reparation for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, and do not love God.
Why did the Angel say that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary await this prayer? Should he not have said that God awaits it? In His Mercy (as Our Lady of Fatima would reveal in due time) God has entrusted the peace of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, one with the Sacred Heart of Her Son.
We deserve God's Justice more than did Noah's generation in the Old Testament. But after the time of Noah, two Hearts redeemed us on Calvary: the Heart of Jesus pierced by a lance and the Heart of Mary pierced by sorrow. These are times of God's Love manifested through those two Hearts.
The angel speaks of the Heart of Mary in close relationship to the Heart of Jesus. These two Sacred Hearts together restored man to God's Grace which the two hearts of Adam and Eve together had lost for us.
The Second Apparition
It was in the summer of 1916 that the angel came a second time while the children were at play. He said: "What are you doing? Pray! Pray much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs upon you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High."
Lucia asked: "How must we sacrifice?" The angel answered: "Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you."
Lucia said: "These words were like a light which made us understand Who God is, how He loves us and how much He desires to be loved…and how pleasing sacrifice is to Him and how, on account of it, He grants the grace of conversion to sinners."
In this second apparition the Angel asks: "What are you doing?" The children were playing. The angel might ask us the same question if he came while we were watching television. He would explain that God now wills that we make of whatever we are doing a sacrifice, something holy. (The word "sacrifice" means "to make holy.") Even the hours before a television set we can offer to God.
"The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs on you," the angel adds. Their Love can no longer be contained. They desire to enflame all hearts with love of God.
We are not asked to do something new. We are asked "above all" to accept whatever God may send us in the course of the day, uniting our hearts to the Sacred Hearts Who offered all for us.
Our Own Nation
Again, as in the first angelic apparition, the angel identifies himself by his mission rather than his name. He is the Guardian Angel of the nation. Our nation shames its angel before the Face of God with many sins, especially 4,000 innocent babies slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers each day in our beloved country.
It may be too much for us to think of all the sins of the world which cry out to God for Justice. But we can think at least of the sins of our own nation. As the angel tells us, we can offer up the trials of each day in reparation "to draw peace upon your country."
The Third Apparition
The children were praying with the words taught to them by the angel when suddenly, holding a chalice and Host, the angel appeared before them. Leaving the Host suspended in the air he then suspended the chalice beneath it. Drops of Blood came from the Host and dripped into the chalice.
Prostrating himself, as had the first time, he asked the children to pray with him and say three times: "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly. 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, by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I pray for the conversion of poor sinners."
Rising, he took the chalice and the Host in his hands. He gave the Host to Lucia and gave the chalice to Francisco and Jacinta saying: "Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by the sins of ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God." The angel then prostrated himself again. Once more he repeated three times the prayer to the Most Holy Trinity, offering Jesus from all the tabernacles of the world in reparation and for the conversion of sinners.
At once we think of so many talking and hastening from Church just after receiving Our Lord. They seem not aware, as was the Angel, that they are now living tabernacles containing Jesus (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) before Whom all the angels of Heaven fall down to adore.
In this third apparition, the Angel does not identify himself. But we understand that he is the Archangel Michael. There is reason to believe that the chalice and Host were taken by the Archangel from the tabernacle of the church of St. Michael in Juncal, about twenty miles from Fatima. Fr. Luis da Costa, the parish priest there at the time, had always left a Host in the tabernacle, together with his chalice. He later revealed that. at the of time of the apparition, the Host had disappeared from the tabernacle and the chalice had been moved.
As Blood dripped from the Host to the chalice, the Angel offered Jesus in the Eucharist to the Trinity in reparation. He then prayed that sinners be converted "by the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary"
An entire book could be written about this. It is linked to the "final" vision of Fatima, which took place on June 13, 1929, of which we shall speak in due course.
But let us address just the three most often asked questions: Why the bleeding Host? Why was the Host given to Lucia and the Blood to Francis and Jacinta? How can we speak of the "infinite merits" of the Heart of Mary?
Over six hundred years before this apparition, a woman in the town of Santarem (half way on the road between Lisbon and Fatima) took a Host from her mouth after Communion for an unholy purpose. It bled profusely. Overcome with remorse, she and her husband reported the wonder to the bishop. The Host was solemnly enshrined in Santarem's "Church of the Holy Miracle." For more than six hundred years it has remained incorrupt, evoking reparation as though in preparation for this third angelic apparition of Fatima.
Nothing offends the Sacred Hearts more than irreverence to the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed Our Lady, following the apparitions of the Angel, would request a special Communion of Reparation on the First Saturday of every month in honor of Her Immaculate Heart, just as Jesus had previously asked for a Communion of Reparation on the First Friday in honor of His Sacred Heart.
Perhaps the Angel communicated Francis and Jacinta from the chalice because they had not yet made their first Communion. Several commentators see this as a reference to the Church in Russia, where Communion is given with the Precious Blood. Others have suggested it might have been because they were soon to die and Lucia was to remain on earth.
When Francis at first did not understand fully what it meant, Lucia explained that Jesus is wholly present under both species. At once he said (as though now he fully understood): "Oh, I knew God was inside me... but I did not know how."
The Angel prostrated himself after the children had received Jesus. Now prostrate in front of the children, the Angel again offered the prayer of adoration three times. The Angel was adoring and offering Jesus now present in three little children in reparation to the Trinity, and for the conversion of sinners "through the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
Infinite Merits of the Sacred Hearts
As in his two previous appearances, St. Michael refers to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He tells us to pray for the conversion of sinners through Their "infinite merits." We usually apply the word "infinite" only to God. But the Angel is affirming here what was said by St. Grignion: "Mary is by Grace what Jesus is by nature." Many other saints and doctors of the Church have spoken in a similar manner. Her Heart is truly one with His. Their Hearts form One single Flame of Love.
Recently it has become more affirmed that Our Lady was the only one, after Adam and Eve, who lived in the Divine Will. Many saints of the era of the triumph of the Sacred Hearts, like Saint Faustina, will have this great gift which is said to give "infinite" merit to their prayers and actions. They are the infinite merits of God's Own Divine Will.
In Her very first apparition, following the three messages of the angel, Our Lady would explain: "God wishes now to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart." This devotion is the door to life in the Divine Will. In the course of the Fatima apparitions to follow, it would become clear that Jesus now desires "that devotion to the Immaculate Heart of My Mother be placed alongside devotion to My Own Sacred Heart."
If there is something "new" in the messages of the angel, perhaps it is that all three times the Hearts of Jesus and Mary were acknowledged. The Angel prepared the way for the Queen of Angels by announcing the essence of the entire message of Fatima, which, in the words of Pope John Paul II, offers to the world "the specific response necessary to save mankind from self destruction."
THE FIRST APPARITION OF OUR LADY
May 13, 1917
"We were so close," Lucia wrote, "just a few feet from Her. We were bathed in the light that surrounded Her or, rather, radiated from Her. Then She spoke to us."
"Do not be afraid. I will not harm you."
"Where are you from?"
"I am from Heaven."
"What do you want of me?"
"I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession on the 13th day at this same hour. Later on I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time"
"Shall I go to Heaven?"
"Yes, you will."
"She will go also."
"He will go there too, but he must say many Rosaries.
"Is Maria da Neves in Heaven?"
"Yes, she is."
"She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world. Are you willing to offer yourselves up to God and to bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and for the conversion of sinners?"
"Yes, we are willing."
"Then you will have much to suffer, but the Grace of God will be your comfort."
Sister Lucia reports that as Our Lady said those last words She opened Her hands. A brilliant light streamed from Her. In that light they saw themselves in God "Who was the Light" and moved by an interior impulse which was communicated to them, they fell to their knees saying: "O Most Holy Trinity I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!"
Before ascending back into Heaven, Our Lady finally said: "Pray the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war."
The children were so close to Our Lady. Did She seem real to them or was She like a spirit, all made of light?
She seemed so real to them that they did not at first think She was from Heaven. Lucia said, despite the great light, they thought She was a person from somewhere around the country whom they had never seen before.
Our Lady is body and soul in Heaven. She Herself was really present before the children.
How old was Amelia when she died? Why would she be in Purgatory until the end of time?
She was about 19. It seems that her family had thought she went quickly to Heaven and did not continue to pray for her. In Her mercy, Our Lady let it be known that this soul very much needed prayers. Let us not forget our own loved ones.
Why would Francisco have to say many Rosaries? This statement of Our Lady would seem to imply that Francisco was not as holy as Lucia and Jacinta, since they were not told they had to say "many" Rosaries.
Actually Francisco was the "contemplative" of the three children. He did not hear Our Lady speak and therefore concentrated on what he saw. What impressed him most in all the course of the apparitions was that Light shining from Our Lady. He said later: "What I loved most of all was to see Our Lord in that light from Our Lady which penetrated our hearts. I love God so much! But He is very sad because of so many sins! We must never commit sins again."
As the light from Our Lady so much impressed Francisco, it ought also to impress us.
This light prefigures the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary when She will cause the Light of God to shine upon the world, causing us to be "lost in God" and aware of Our Lord's true presence in the Eucharist.
From the time of this first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, Francisco was impelled to offer many Rosaries in reparation to Our Lord, offended by so many careless Communions and neglected in so many tabernacles.
In conclusion, Our Lady tells us in this first apparition: 1) She wants us to offer up to God whatever He chooses to send us, in reparation for our sins and the sins of others; 2) She is our real, loving Mother who can be present wherever She wills, and is always listening when we pray; 3) Purgatory is real; 4) The Grace of God will be with us and comfort us in fulfilling Her requests; 5) If we say "yes", as did the children, Her Immaculate Heart will flood us with Divine light, and make us aware of the true presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
JUNE 13, 1917
Just as in May, on June 13, 1917, there was a great light and in the next moment Our Lady was on the little tree (about six feet above the ground). At once Lucia asked: "What do you want of me?"
"I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read. Later, I will tell you what I want." Lucia then asked for the cure of a sick person. "If he is converted, he will be cured within the year."
"I would like to ask you if you will take us to Heaven."
"Yes. I will take Francisco and Jacinta soon. But you are to stay here some time longer. Jesus wishes to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart."
"Am I to stay here alone?" Lucia asked sadly.
"No, my daughter. Do you suffer much? Do not be discouraged. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your consolation and the way that will lead you to God." As Our Lady spoke these last words She opened Her hands and in an immense light that emanated from Her Heart, Lucia said: "We saw ourselves as though immersed in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in the light which rose towards Heaven, and I in that part of the light poured out on the earth.
"In front of the palm of Our Lady's right hand was a heart encircled with thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, seeking reparation."
Why the apparition of the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with thorns?
All six apparitions of Our Lady are like chapters of a book. Each one reveals a little more. Here Lucia is told she is to convey a special message to the world. Although Francisco and Jacinta will soon go to Heaven, she is to remain because Jesus wishes to use her "to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart."
How important is this message?
The Vatican document of June 26, 2000, in which the last secret of Fatima was revealed, affirmed that the very heart of the Fatima message was "to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart."
THE THIRD APPARITION
JULY 13, 1917
After the flash of light Our Lady was present again and Lucia again asked: "What do you want of me?"
"I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war because only She can help you."
"I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everyone will believe that you are appearing to us."
"Continue to come here every month. In October I will tell you who I am, and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and to believe."
Lucia then made requests for favors people had given her. Our Lady said it was necessary for such people to pray the Rosary in order to obtain these graces during the year. She then concluded: "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners. Say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: "O My Jesus! It is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
Why did Our Lady say that She is the only one who can help us?
Jacinta answered this question with the statement: "God has entrusted the peace of the world to Her." Our Lady is not taking the place of God. She is doing the work God has assigned to Her. She is holding back the sword of fire wielded by God's Angel of Justice.
What is the principal message of this vision?
We are shown the power of the Rosary to bring peace to the world, and the need to make sacrifices of all we do, offering them for love of Jesus, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Why reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
What offends the Heart of Jesus offends the Heart of His Mother. Our Lady said that most souls go to Hell because of sins of impurity, and She offers Her Immaculate Heart as a refuge for sinners. We repair the wounds of Her pierced Heart when we seek refuge there from Satan and the world.
The Vision of Hell
Just after Our Lady taught the children to say frequently "O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary," Our Lady showed the children a vision of Hell as a sea of fire.
She then said: "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 what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war (World War I) is going to end. But if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.
"When you will see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of 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 heard, 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. Several nations will be annihilated
"Finally My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and an era of peace will be granted to the world."
Our Lady told them to keep this a secret for the time. Then She said: "When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need."
Our Lady of Fatima
Peace for mankind is the promise of Fatima. The greatness of Fatima lies not so much in the miracle, but that it offers the specific response necessary to save mankind from self-destruction - mainly, prayer and sacrifice.
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima Capelinha was designed in the spirit and image of the original statue in the Chapel of Apparitions at the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal.
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima Azinheira was designed in the spirit and image of how Our Lady appeared among the cork oak trees at Fatima, Portugal to the sheperd children of Fatima.
The world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was sculpted in 1947 by Jose Thedim, based on the description of Sr. Lucia, one of the three young seers who saw Our Lady each month from May to October 1917 in Fatima, Portugal. Our Peregrina statue was designed in the spirit and image of the original Piligrm statue.
The statue of Our Lady of Fatima de Ponta was a special design by our expert artisans, an image of how Our Lady appeared to the sheperd children of Fatima, Portugal.
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