Apparitions, miracles, secrets... What happened in Fátima?

Apparitions, miracles, secrets… What happened in Fátima?

What happened in Fátima in 1917?

During the year 1917, the arid place called Cova da Iria, in Aljustrel, about a hundred kilometers north of Lisbon (Portugal), was the scene of six Marian apparitions to three shepherds, Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta. Between May and October, the Virgin Mary, under the name “Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima”, will transmit to them a message of peace for penance and the conversion of sinners, as well as prophetic messages on the end of the world and the 'hell :

  • May 13, 1917 : On May 13, 1917, around 12 p.m., “a lady all dressed in white” claiming to come from Heaven appeared to the three shepherds, then with their sheep. Standing on a small oak tree, Mary calmed them and asked them “to come here for six consecutive months, on the 13th, at this same time,” as Lúcia later reported. And to pray “the rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and an end to war”. The Virgin also announced to them that they “will have to suffer much” for the conversion of sinners. Only Lúcia will speak with Our Lady, Jacinta will see and hear their words, but Francisco will see without hearing anything.
  • June 13, 1917 : For the second appearance of Mary to the shepherds, a crowd of around fifty people gathered at the Cova da Iria. Having come to pray, they witness the apparition, without seeing or hearing anything. Still on the small oak tree, Our Lady asked to continue praying the rosary and encouraged the three children to learn, to better reveal her message when the time came. The Virgin recommended devotion to her Immaculate Heart for the salvation of humanity, and went so far as to show her heart “surrounded by thorns which seemed to sink into it” which Lúcia should disseminate. She will explain to him that whoever adopts him will have salvation and be loved by God, “like flowers placed by (her) to adorn her throne.” Lúcia will also learn that these two cousins ​​will soon die.
  • July 13, 1917 : Surrounded by 2,000 to 5,000 curious people, Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta see the Virgin Mary for the third time. This once again emphasizes prayer and the conversion of sinners. At the request of the eldest of the three children, Mary promises a miracle in October to attest to the veracity of the apparitions and to indicate her identity. Our Lady reveals a prophetic story in three parts: these are the famous secrets of Fátima. The shepherds are then plunged into a frightening vision of hell with “an ocean of fire” where demons and human souls “floated in the fire, lifted up by the flames” in a smell of sulfur, explained Lúcia (later Sister Maria Lúcia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart) in her Memoirs. A first secret pushing devotion to the Heart of Mary. The second secret will follow with the almost apocalyptic story of the Second World War and the necessary consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These two secrets will be revealed in 1941. The third and final secret is revealed orally by the Virgin before being made public in 2000 by Cardinal Ratzinger (future Benedict XVI). It concerns the persecution against the Church and the assassination of the Pope. Saint John Paul II will see the story of his assassination attempt in 1981 in Rome.
  • August 13 and 19, 1917 : This time it is no less than 5,000 faithful and unbelievers who flock to the Cova da Iria, in front of the small oak tree, on August 13. But this time no traces of the visionaries. They were arrested the same day and taken to Ourém (the large nearby town) for interrogation then locked up for disturbing public order by the very anticlerical local authorities. However, some believers will attest to unexplained meteorological phenomena. It will finally be in Valinhos, on August 19, that the Blessed Virgin will appear promising again a great miracle in October, while continuing to insist, with sadness, on the prayer of the rosary for peace, penance, devotion to her Heart and the conversion of sinners: “Pray, pray a lot and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no one who sacrifices and prays for them. “. She also requested the building of a chapel.
  • September 13, 1917 : In front of approximately 20,000 people kneeling, the “lady” asks again to “say the rosary to Our Lady of the Rosary, every day” for the end of the war. She promises a great miracle a third time, the following month, in the company of Jesus and Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus who will bless the crowd.
  • October 13, 1917 : It's the day of the great miracle! Between 50,000 to 70,000 believers, unbelievers and representatives of local authorities, monitored by hundreds of soldiers, welcome Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins ​​Francisco and Jacinta Marto, at Cova da Iria. From the start of the apparition, Mary reveals her identity and says she is Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima. She quickly asked for a chapel to be built on this arid and dry land, and promised an imminent end to the war in Europe. For the umpteenth time, she insists on the daily recitation of the rosary, before leaving for heaven. At that moment the great miracle of the Sun begins. This one gave the impression of dancing and spinning around itself. Almost hitting the Earth. Sister Maria Lúcia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart wrote, many years later: “Next to the Sun, Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady, dressed in white with a blue mantle. Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world with hand gestures in the shape of a cross. (…) I saw Our Lord, and Our Lady who gave me the impression of being Our Lady of Sorrows. (…) This Apparition disappeared and I seemed to see Our Lady again under the appearance of Our Lady of Carmel. “. This miracle currently has no plausible astronomical and scientific explanation. Many cases of conversions and unexplained healings took place that day.

What is the situation in Fátima today?

Today, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is the leading Marian sanctuary in Portugal, in terms of number of pilgrims and annual visitors. It received nearly 5 million pilgrims in 2022. This makes it one of the most popular Marian centers in the world and even the fourth most popular Catholic pilgrimage site, after Guadalupe (Mexico), the Vatican and Lourdes. (France). Many come there out of devotion or simply as visitors. And they come from far and wide: Spain, France, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Brazil and even the United States. The apparitions of 1917 were sources of great fervor with several highlights during the year: the pilgrimage of May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fátima, which always brings together thousands of pilgrims, the pilgrimage of August 13 bringing together many faithful and Portuguese immigrants, and the pilgrimage of October 13, also full of fervor.

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