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Our Lady of Fatima

Feast Day - 13th May

3 2us by Monsignor Leo Maasburg       
"The angel asked the children in Fatima if they were ready to go out and they say yes, we are ready to face the sufferings of this world which nobody can avoid. On 13th May 1981 another great person had to suffer and that was Blessed John Paul II. And I happened to be at St Peter's Square when, in the evening, hundreds and thousands of people gathered just to pray. There were candles on the ground where he had been shot and he was in hospital. We were praying the rosary there. Suddenly you could hear a strong clicking noise and the loud speakers were switched on in St Peter's Square. And after a long time, maybe 10 minutes, you could hear a very heavy breathing, very slowly, and already the word spread that this was a broadcast from the room of the Holy Father in hospital. And then a very, very slow, a real suffering voice came across "Totus tuus ego sum." A long silence; it took him I guess at least 3 minutes to pronounce these words. And then he said "I have forgiven the man who made an attempt on my life." I believe this is exactly what the message of Fatima wants to tell us: are we ready to offer our lives, are we ready to offer our sufferings, in order to be able to forgive?"

Rob, from London       
"My conversion to like really become Catholic was through the Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Fatima. She's the person who showed me the light, who took me from the darkness and really has been beside me ever since, taking me in like a baby and she's just really been an inspiration and just unbelievable. She's been there for me always, ever since."

The Fatima Seers, the Little Shepherds, were Lucia dos Santos (aged 10) and her two cousins, Francisco (9) and Jacinta (7) Marto. The three children came from the hamlet of Aljustrel situated about 2 km from the Cova da Iria, where the apparitions of Our Lady took place. All three initially saw the Angel of Peace, or the Angel of Portugal, who appeared to them on three occasions during 1916, to teach them various prayers and prepare them for their meetings with the Mother of God. During the Angel’s last apparition, they received the Eucharist and, following these encounters, they would spend hours on their knees in imitation of the Angel who had knelt down and bowed his forehead to the ground in adoration, as they repeated the first prayer he had taught them: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!”

The first apparition of Our Lady took place on the 13th. In Lucia’s words, they saw “a Lady, all dressed in white. She was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it” (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, vol I, p 174). Amongst other things, the Blessed Virgin told them that they would all go to heaven but that Francisco would need to say many rosaries first. When he was told what she had said, his joyous response was: “Oh, my dear Our Lady! I’ll say as many rosaries as you want!” And Lucia tells us that from that point onwards he often went apart to say the rosary by himself. In her last words to the children on this occasion she said: “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.”

Mary also communicated an intense light from her hands to the children during this first apparition, a light which penetrated their hearts and souls, making them see themselves in God. Francisco later commented about this experience as follows: “I loved seeing the Angel, but I loved still more seeing Our Lady. 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 any sins again.” On one occasion, Jacinta remarked to Lucia: “Look, do you know this? Our Lord is sad, because Our Lady told us not to offend Him any more, for He is already very much offended; yet nobody takes any notice, and they continue to commit the same sins!”

Francisco became a true contemplative, and, as Lucia tells us, like Jacinta he advanced greatly in spiritual terms in a very short time, displaying a wisdom well beyond his years. His whole focus was to do everything he could to console Our Lord and he had to remind the two girls on occasion that childish games and pastimes were no longer appropriate, especially as Our Lady had told him and Jacinta that they were destined to go to heaven shortly, whereas Lucia was told that her mission was to remain on earth and spread devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

On 13 May 1917 Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, while guarding their sheep in the Cova da Iria, witnessed an apparition of a lady dressed in white. The lady, later referred to as Our Lady of the Rosary, indicated that she was sent by God with a message of prayer, repentance and consecrations. She visited the children each month on the 13th day for 5 months. The last apparition occurred on 13 October and was witnessed by 70,000 pilgrims, who saw the Miracle of the Sun. In addition, Our Lady of Fátima sent a message that consisted of three secrets: first, a vision of Hell where the souls of the sinful would travel without prayer; the second, prophesied the beginning of the Second World War; and ultimately, the mysterious third secret, which was written down by Lúcia in 1944, and held by the Vatican, since 1957.

Jacinta died in 1919 and Francisco in 1920 from the Spanish flu Epidemic of 1918-1920. Lucia became a nun and, as Sister Lúcia, recounted three visits from an angel to her and her cousins. Between April and October in 1916 this angel invited them to pray and do penitence. The angel visited them twice in Loca do Cabeço and once by the well in Lúcia's garden. Sister Lucia died in 2005.

13 May 1981 - Assassination attempt on John Paul II in St Peter's Square
13 May 2000 - Beatification of Francisco & Jacinta Marto by JPII in Fatima.

Pope Paul VI was a pilgrim to Fatima in 1967. Saint John Paul II was a pilgrim to Portugal in 1982, for the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, in 1991 (the 10th anniversary of the assassination attempt) and in 2000 for the beatification of the visionaries Francisco and Jacinta. Papa Benedict XVI came on pilgrimage to Portugal in 2010.

Teresa, from the UK      
"I was in Fatima with my husband and we were sitting at the shrine and I had a sense that Our Lady was standing beside me; very powerful. And in fact I had felt very conscious that something would happen when we were making the journey to Fatima. And I believe she said to me "Teresa, pray the rosary and you will know me." Now, most of my life I've had tremendous difficulty in saying the rosary and I just felt this was a tremendous indication from Our Lady the significance of saying the rosary, how it can transform lives, and can actually bring a unity to the Catholic Church. If the rosary is said on a daily basis, we will certainly grow and Our Lady will protect us at all times."