Last weekend the Holy Father Pope Francis celebrated the 100th anniversary of our Lady of Fatima by canonizing Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the three shepherd children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children, appearing six times to Lucia, 9, and her cousins Francisco, 8, and his sister Jacinta, 6, between May 13, 1917 and October 13, 1917. According to the testimony of the children, the Blessed Mother said, “Please don’t be afraid of me, I’m not going to harm you.” Lucia asked her where she came from and she responded, “I come from Heaven.” The children testified that the Virgin Mary wore a white mantle edged with gold, held a rosary in her hand, asked them to pray and devote themselves to the Holy Trinity, and to “Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.” At the last apparition, Mary revealed her name, saying, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” 70,000 people had turned out to witness the apparition. According to thousands of eye witnesses, the sun made three circles, moving around the sky in an incredible zigzag movement. This left no doubt in their minds about the veracity of the apparitions. By 1930 the Bishop had approved these apparitions and subsequently they were approved by the Church as authentic.
Many of us relate the apparitions of our Lady of Fatima with the three prophetic secrets. The first two were refer to the vision of hell and the souls languishing there, the request for an ardent devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the prediction of the Second World War, and finally, the prediction of the immense damage that Russia would do to humanity by abandoning the Christian faith and embracing Communist totalitarianism. The third “secret” was not revealed until the year 2000, and referred to the persecutions that humanity would undergo in the last century, “The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.” The suffering of popes in the 20th century has been interpreted to include the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, which took place on May 13th that year, the 64th anniversary of the apparitions. The Holy Father attributed his escape from certain death to the intervention of Our Lady, “… it was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death.” (Catholic News Agency)
The message of Fatima is actually quite simple: Prayer, Penance and Conversion, the royal road to holiness. Fatima is, above all, a source of hope that through Mary we can always find and approach Jesus, as Pope Francis beautifully reminded us of in his homily for the canonization of Saints Jacinta and Francisco, “According to the belief and experience of many pilgrims, if not of all, Fatima is, more than anything, this mantle of Light that protects us here, as in almost no other place on earth. We need but take refuge under the protection of the Virgin Mary and to ask her, as the Salve Regina teaches, “Show unto us … Jesus.”
En la semana pasada, celebramos el centenario de nuestra Señora de Fatima. Nuestro querido Papa Francisco dijo en su homilía de la canonización de los tres niños pastores a quienes la Virgen se les apareció en 1917; “Queridos Peregrinos, tenemos una Madre. Aferremonos a ella como hijos, vivamos de la esperanza que se apoya en Jesús…Cuando Jesús subió al cielo, llevó junto al Padre celeste a la humanidad ¿nuestra humanidad? que había asumido en el seno de la Virgen Madre, y que nunca dejará. Como un ancla, fijemos nuestra esperanza en esa humanidad, colocada en el cielo a la derecha del Padre (cf. Ef 2,6). Que esta esperanza sea el impulso de nuestra vida. Una esperanza que nos sostenga siempre, hasta el último suspiro.” Es un recuerdo que siempre tengamos una fuente de esperanza en nuestra Virgencita porque ella siempre nos dirige a nuestro Señor; este es el mensaje principal de Fatima.
Estos dos nuevos santos hermanos, Francisco y Jacinta, junto a su prima Lucía, fueron testigos de las apariciones de la Virgen María en Cova de Iría, Fátima, que se produjeron entre mayo y octubre de 1917. Francisco tenía entonces nueve años, Jacinta tenia siete anos y Lucía tenia dies. La Virgen se les apareció en seis oportunidades. En la tercera aparición, del 13 de julio, les reveló el Secreto de Fátima. Durante aquel período, los tres niños tuvieron que hacer frente a las incomprensiones de sus familias y vecinos, y a la persecución del gobierno portugués, profundamente anticlerical. Pero aceptaron esas dificultades con fe y valentía: “Si nos matan – decían – no importa. Vamos al cielo.” (Radio Vaticano)
In Christ / En Cristo,