It was 1917. The Great War (or WW1 as it is better known today) had been going on for 5 long years, far longer than any of the Great Powers in Europe had intended when they decided to wage it. It was also the most destructive war the world had ever seen, thanks to the rise of technological warfare brought about by industrialisation. In the midst of all the chaos of the times, Our Lady appears…
This being the month of our Mother Mary, I decided to do a little bit of web research on one of her more famous apparitions. Pris, my co-writer at YOUhf, suggested that I write about Fatima because the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima falls on May 13. So hopefully this article will help with the reason behind next week’s celebration.
I’m sure many of you have heard about the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal before. When I was young, my mother told me about the three sheepherding children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta and how Mother Mary had appeared to them many times, bringing the messages of the necessity of conversion of sinners and praying the Rosary. Today, my parents still attend mass at St Joseph’s church on the 13th day of each month in honour of Our Lady (who appeared each 13th of the month to the Fatima children). I, however, sometimes struggle with the devotion to our Mother in my faith. Reading up for this article has helped me to better recognize her centrality in Catholicism.
I won’t write a narrative of Fatima. You can read about the fascinating happenings by clicking on the links below. What I’d like to write about is why it happened.
This 20th century story appeals to me as a history student because of the things of Our Lady told to the children. According to her, if people continued to offend God, He would punish them with another war and Russia would “scatter her errors throughout the world”. This surely referred to the second World War and the destructive effects of Soviet communism. The last ‘secret’ revealed at Fatima was that of a vision of the Holy Father “killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him”, which corresponded to the assasination attempt on Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981. The pope also attributed his survival to Our Lady: “a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path”.
For us today in the 21st century, we have the benefit of hindsight and we see how Our Lady’s predictions have come true. But Fatima wasn’t just about miracles. It was about Our Lady’s plea for our conversion to God, through penance – prayer and sacrifice. But it is also a message of hope, trusting in the promise that Christ has “overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). We are called to be pure and obedient like the children, to become saints with God’s grace. We are called to devote ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, whose “Yes” to God has brought our Saviour into the world.
I used three main sources in my research, each with its distinctive merits. The EWTN webpage gave a good easy-to-read summary of the topic, with useful links to various pages of interest, for example, short biographies of the children. I enjoyed reading the Fatima story chronologically on the second website as it helped me to better appreciate the sequence of events. Finally, the Vatican webpage provided first-hand documents (Sr Lucia’s letters) that enriched my understanding.