April 25, 2017 // Special
World prepares to celebrate 100 years since Fatima apparitions
Angel of Peace preceded Marian message
This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most famous Marian apparitions in history. What began in a small Portuguese village named Fatima with three shepherd children has spread around the world and across multiple generations.
The events at Fatima bring a message of hope and a call to conversion. In addition, there are multiple layers of historical and religious significance to the apparitions that have made them the subject of extensive study. The church has approved the apparitions and messages that Our Lady delivered to the children and declared them worthy of belief.
Throughout the past 100 years many popes have illustrated the significance of Fatima through their words and example. The last few decades have brought no exception. St. John Paul II, who attributed his survival of an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981 to Our Lady of Fatima, said the Fatima message is more important now than ever. These sentiments were echoed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, during his homily at a Mass celebrated at Fatima, when he said: “we would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete. … Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror but failed in bringing it to an end. In sacred Scripture, we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima.” Noting the Great War that was engulfing the world at the time of the apparitions, Pope Benedict also said: “At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interest of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart. … May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”
Pope Francis has continued this special devotion. In 2013, his pontificate was consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima. In addition, he will visit Fatima on May 13, 2017, the centennial of the first apparition.
Preparing the way
On a spring day in 1916, one year before the apparitions began, an angel who called himself the Angel of Peace appeared to 9-year old Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco, 8, and Jacinta, 6, as they were tending their family’s sheep. He appeared as a young man, about 14 or 15 years old. In Lucia’s words, he looked “whiter than snow” and was as “transparent as crystal when the sun shines through it.” His first words were, “Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.” He then knelt down and bowed until his forehead touched the ground. The children, moved by an interior impulse, did the same. He proceeded to teach them a new and beautifully simple prayer which is now known as the Pardon Prayer.
“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.” This prayer was said three times. The angel rose and said “Pray thus. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” Then he disappeared.
Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR, wrote in his book “Fatima For Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope” that this prayer was the introduction to Our Lady’s entire Fatima message. “The prayer outlines four fundamental actions we all must do in order to have a relationship with God: keep faith by believing, worship by adoring, trust by hoping, and love by loving. Then the prayer asks God to pardon those who are neglecting these duties towards him,” Father Apostoli said. “Praying for the salvation of souls is at the very center of our Lady of Fatima’s message.”
The angel continued to teach the children about the power and urgent necessity of prayer and sacrifice through two additional appearances in 1916. He also gave the children Holy Communion at his final apparition. On May 13 of the following year, the children would receive their first visit from Our Lady. Over the past 100 years Catholics have chosen to learn and live the Fatima message, confident that the journey will lead to a closer union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
More stories and resources can be found at www.diocesefwsb.org/fatima
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.