5 Things You Should Know About the Apparitions at Fatima
Imagine being 9 years old, carrying on with your family chores, when all of a sudden, a dazzling white figure appears to you and your life is changed forever. This is just the beginning of over a year full of visions and experiences that you never thought possible, and you are left with a burning love for Jesus and a desire to bring souls to Him. Mary, the Mother of God, appeared to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco for six consecutive months from May 13, 1917 to October 13, 1917 and then once to only Lucia. What must it have been like to talk with the Blessed Virgin so intimately? Luckily, there are accounts from Lucia, who wrote down her experiences. With the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima upon us this year, I have realized that I, like most Americans, don't know as much about Our Lady of Fatima as I thought I did. So, I'm here to share 5 things about Fatima that I think you should know.
1. An angel appeared to the children first. Many people overlook this part of the Fatima story, but the children first saw an apparition in the spring of 1916. This angel told the children that he was the guardian angel of Portugal and proceeded to teach them how to pray and offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and gave the children their first communion. All of this divine catechesis was in preparation for the visit from Our Lady.
2. Mary told the children 3 "secrets." Lucia describes the message of Fatima in 3 parts. The first and second parts concern the vision of Hell presented to the children and a consecration of the world. After allowing the children to see the terrifying vision, Our Lady urged a consecration of the world to her Immaculate heart, as well as a consecration of Russia and reception of communion on the first Saturdays. We know from our history books that 1917 was during World War I, and Our Lady said that if the world is not consecrated a second, more deadly war would follow. However, if the consecration took place, there would be peace and conversion. We can read how the rest of this story played out through Pope St. John Paul II. The third secret is said to have predicted the assassination attempt of John Paul II on May 13, 1981, and the Pope had attributed his safety to the protection of the Blessed Mother.
3. Our Lady stressed the importance of the rosary and the conversion of sinners. Over and over again, Mary told the children to pray for the conversion of sinners and to pray the rosary daily. She urged the world to do the sam for the sake of peace and conversion of the world. This shows the incredible power of prayer and how important it is for all of us to have a great devotion to Mary.
4. 2 of the 3 children are going to be canonized today! The Blessed Virgin promised all of the children that they would be able to go to Heaven. The younger children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, died shortly after the apparitions ended and will be canonized today, on May 13, 2017. Lucia lived until 2005 and has been declared a Servant of God in 2008, the first step in becoming a Saint.
5. This really happened. By the time the last day of the apparitions came around, word got out about the children seeing visions of the Blessed Virgin, and thousands of people were gathered in the place where the apparitions took place on a rainy afternoon. The crowd witnessed a miracle where the sun appeared to be dancing and plunged toward the earth but left everyone unharmed and the ground dry. What are the odds that thousands of people all had the same hallucination at the same time? Not likely.
The apparitions at Fatima were incredible events with thought-provoking messages, but how do they apply to our lives?
The point that Our Lady is trying to stress to us is that through constant prayer and reception of the sacraments, we can unite ourselves in Christ's redemptive suffering. As our mother, she wants what is best for us, and she urges us to stay close to God and all that He provides for us. If we do these things, then we will surely partake in eternal life. What a great joy it is to know that Mary is watching over her children and will do everything it takes to make sure we come home safely!