There have been many non-believers and sceptics.
But the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome has acknowledged these events and held firm to the three secrets revealed to mankind.
On the 13th of the month, from May to October 1917, the Virgin Mary, referring to herself as the “Lady of the Rosary,” revealed herself to three children in Cova da Iria in the town of Fatima, Portugal; exhorting them and humankind to pray and do penance for sins that displeased God.
The apparitions were made before Francisco aged eight, Jacinth, six, and Lucia, nine, the children of shepherds. She assured them she would do them no harm and that they should use their rosary to pray.
During her appearances, Mother Mary revealed three secrets to the children always telling them to pray for world peace and not to reveal what she had shared with them.
The first secret was a vision of hell, where lost souls languish in everlasting pain and anguish.
The second was that World War I would end but if man continued to sin, offend God and wreak destruction on the world, it would witness an even greater war. She foresaw that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world causing wars and persecutions of the Church. She called for Russia to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The third and final secret delivered in a handwritten letter and revealed to the world in the year 2000, describes the vivid wings of an angel with a flaming sword who pointed to the earth and shouted “penance, penance, penance.” It described a bishop dressed in white who was killed by bullets and arrows as he makes his way to a cross at the top of a hill, which the Vatican identified as the Pontiff.
Back then it was said this was just the imaginings of children and that there was no credence to their stories. The three children were impelled to disavow what they said they saw and were questioned relentlessly but stuck to what was revealed to them.
This took place when Europe was in chaos, at a time when the destructiveness of war on an epic scale was experienced by mankind. It could not have been foreseen that World War II would be even more catastrophic and mark the most singular damning event of the twentieth century.
Why would the Virgin Mary reveal herself to three children? Children’s hearts and souls are less cynical and more receptive to the light of goodness. They are not yet stained by sin and evil.
The twentieth century was one of turmoil and strife. Two world wars, the struggle between communism and democracy, the influenza pandemic of 1918 that killed 55 million people across the world, the AIDS epidemic, the great Chinese famine, and the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
Did Mother Mary foresee all this and try to avert calamities by getting humanity to see the error of its ways? Is this the abiding message from the Lady of Fatima?
In order to prove she was here and not a fiction of three Portuguese children, she promised a miracle. On October 13th, 1917, some 70,000 people gathered to see if she would appear before the children and if they too would witness the apparition.
What they saw that day remains one of the world’s great mysteries called the “Miracle of the Sun,” where it danced in the sky, emitting different colours and descending unnervingly low beneath the clouds so as to scorch the earth and every living thing on it, but never did.
In 1930 the Catholic Church declared the children’s visions worthy of belief. The “Miracle of the Sun” convinced many people in Portugal who had seen it for themselves. Many sceptics were converted.
Today, Pope Francis writes on Twitter, “ Our Lady of Fatima, the Mother of Jesus and our mother; help us create paths of encounter and dialogue that lead toward peace and grant us the courage to trod them without hesitation.”
Our Lady of Fatima called for the exhortation to prayer as the path of salvation for souls declaring “ my immaculate heart will triumph.”
May #OurLadyOfFatima, the Mother of Jesus and our own mother, help us create paths of encounter and dialogue that lead toward peace, and grant us the courage to trod them without hesitation. #PrayTogether— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) May 13, 2023
As we approach the end of the first quarter of a new century, it cannot be said that much progress has been made or the words of the Lady of Fatima have been heeded.
We have seen the rise of Islamic extremism, mass migration from the Third World to the First World with people looking for sanctuary, the invasion of Ukraine as Russia asserts itself as a military power in Europe, the rise of AI and humanity’s wilful concession to this technology, the insidious influence of social media and the increasing use of misinformation, the COVID pandemic, military tensions between China and Taiwan, moral turpitude, the waning influence of the church, increasing antisemitism, the failure of globalisation, economic and financial uncertainty as inflation and interest rates rise to new levels, the shifting of the world order as both China and Russia stake their claims, BRICS likely to usurp the G7, the IMF and the World Bank, the splintering of Europe, constant mass shooting in the United States and mental illness, the demise of the family, increasing drug use, climate change due to emissions.
We live in turbulent times and perhaps we should call for Mother Mary to again show us the way in a new century.
On the 13th of May, 1981 ( note the date and think back to the third secret), Pope John Paul II survived an attempted assignation in St Peter’s Square. He did say he was saved from death that day from the Lady of Fatima who averted the bullets – a divine intercession.
Reparations? The Lady of Fatima has asked us all to make reparations for our sins.