Today is the 100th anniversary of the final appearance of Our Lady of Fatima. What is it that we remember and celebrate? In 1917, on six occasions, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three Portuguese children from Fatima, a village near Lisbon. During the apparitions Our Lady requested that they offer their prayers and sufferings in reparation for sin, for the conversion of sinners, and for world peace.
My father told me the Fatima story when I was a child. The actual events occurred about two years before he was born. I particularly recall dad describing the Miracle of the Sun, which happened in October at the time of the final apparition. It was raining heavily that day when thousands gathered where Our Lady had been appearing. As usual the three children prayed. This was also the day that Our Lady revealed her identity to them as she had promised she would. She called herself the Lady of the Rosary. She also urged everyone to stop offending God by sin and to pray. In addition she strongly encouraged them to pray the rosary often and devoutly.
|Illustration (two-page spread) of the Miracle of the Sun that appeared in my childhood textbook|
Then something amazing happened. The rain stopped. The sun appeared like a huge silver ball, and it began to move. It spun three times and flashed beautiful colors like a light show. It ended when the sun stood still and the flashing lights stopped. It was the last time the children saw Our Lady.
Not long after my father told me about Fatima, I read the account of the apparitions in a third grade Ginn and Company Faith and Freedom reading book, This is Our Valley. The illustrations captivated my young imagination, especially because the children involved, Lucia Santos, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinto Marto, both now canonized as Blesseds, were about my age. Had I lived at that time and in that place they could have been my friends or school mates.
|Photograph of Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta|
Last summer I renewed my devotion to Our Lady of Fatima after viewing the film, “The 13th Day,” which is based on the memoirs of Lucia and thousands of eyewitnesses who experienced the miraculous events. It was one of the movies in a summer film series sponsored by the religious education ministry of my parish. You can get a hint of what a fine movie it is at this link, which has film clip excerpts like the following, and more good information.
I originally published this in 2013.