On the thirteenth day of this month of May, a month dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, we venerate Mary under her title of Our Lady of Fatima. The Church celebrates an optional memorial on this day. The great message of Fatima is still very relevant today. The apparitions and visions call for a spirit of penance and prayer, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and her Rosary, by which she will triumph and bring peace to a world very much in need of her victory.
In 1945, when the bombs were dropped upon Nagasaki and Hiroshima, accounts in both places described religious houses where the practice of the Fatima message, including a daily rosary prayed, was credited with the miraculous protection of the priests and a nun amidst terrible destruction and radiation illness. What IS the Fatima message we are called to live?
In 1916, the Angel of Peace appeared to three young shepherd children of Fatima, Portugal three times, and prepared them for an even greater visitor to come. Over a period of five months beginning on May 13 in 1917, the children, Jacinta, Francesco and Lucia, received monthly visits from Our Lady, who came on a mission to urge radical conversion through devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. While government officials tried to silence the children and discourage followers, Our Lady’s message could not be thwarted. She showed the three a vision of hell. She asked them to offer sacrifices for poor sinners. She made predictions which simple peasant children could not have fabricated. She asked for the consecration of Russia, whose errors she said would spread throughout the world (this on the eve of their spread of Communism). Our Lady asked for a practice of Communions of reparation on five first Saturdays, and the daily devotion of the Holy Rosary, solemnly and lovingly referred to by some as “the weapon.” Secrets were given which indicate a great trial for the Church and the world, with the apostasy of many and the “annihilation of nations” a real danger.
In these days of such animosity towards the Christian life and values, the Rosary still holds the promise of victory. In Nigeria, where the group Boko Haram is mercilessly terrorizing Christians (familiar to most is their kidnapping of hundreds of girls last year for enslavement, but that is but a small part of their evil acts), Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme has described a vision he experienced, in which Jesus Himself handed the bishop a sword, which turned to a rosary as he accepted it. Three times Bishop Doeme heard Jesus say, “Boko Haram is gone,” and he understood immediately that the rosary would be the instrument by which this would be done. He has been promoting the daily praying of the rosary to combat the rampant evils of Islamist terrorism. Can it be coincidental that as the bishop urges the rosary, the news has recently carried reports of rescues of large numbers of victims of Boko Haram?
Our Lady asked the children of Fatima to offer penances, sacrifices for sinners and for the many that have no one to pray for them. She promised a great miracle to occur on October 13, 1917, during which 70,000 people were present and experienced the effects of the Miracle of the Sun and an apparition of the Holy Family, as well as other visions.
In subsequent years, Lucia received additional visions of Our Lady and further instruction and predictions. Much can be learned by studying the great and ongoing story of Fatima. Our world needs us to live the message of Fatima!