One hundred years ago today, on 13 October 1917, an amazing miracle took place at the Cova Da Iria in Fatima, Portugal. If you are familiar with the story of Fatima, you would know that the three little shepherd children, Francisco Marto, his sister Jacinta Marto, and their cousin Lucia dos Santos were visited by the Holy Virgin Mary at the Cova Da Iria, who appeared above a holm oak tree. Our Lady’s message was to warn the world that we must stop offending God, amend our lives, pray the Holy Rosary for the conversion of the world and sinners, the consecration of Russia, and devotion to her Immaculate Heart to obtain peace, amongst other messages and secrets.
Over the course of several visits, Lucia, the primary spokesperson for the children, asked the Blessed Virgin to perform a miracle so that the people would believe. The Virgin Mary promised that this would take place on 13 October, 1917.
On 13 October 1917 over 70,000 people came from far and wide in the torrential rain to assemble at the Cova and await the promised miracle. There was a great fear amongst Lucia’s family (particularly her mother) that should the miracle not occur the crowd would revolt and turn on the children, who had already endured much suffering at the hands of detractors and officials.
But the miracle did take place, and all saw the “dancing of the sun”, including people who were kilometres away. They witnessed a phenomenon that has never before, nor since, occurred on earth in front of so many people at the same time. We are fortunate in that there remains the written testimonies of many individuals who reported what they saw, and the healings and conversions that took place in that moment.
This year, being the one hundredth anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions, I have been reading a lot about the events and messages of Fatima. Several new books have been published about what took place there, and what happened to the children afterwards. Francisco and Jacinta Marto were formally recognized by the church as saints this year, and Sr Lucia is now a Servant of God, undoubtedly on the way to sainthood.
So what are we to make of these events now, one hundred years later? How can we apply Our Lady’s messages in our own lives in this very different world – a world that seems light years away from 1917, but so much more tumultuous and ungodly?
Before the apparitions at Fatima began, the Angel of Portugal appeared to the seers in 1915 in preparation, teaching the children several prayers which we still use today. The world was on the cusp of war, amidst much political and social upheaval. The tragedies that were World War I and II, as we now know, would result in millions of lives lost and great atrocities. Our Lady’s visit was greatly justified and needed.
While reading these recently published books about Fatima I kept thinking about how much more the world needs Our Lady’s help today, and how even more offended God must be in the one hundred years since 1917. So I started thinking about what I could do to be more devoted to Our Lady and live her messages. Surely if the three young shepherd children could suffer, pray, and dedicate their lives to Our Lady and Jesus, then I (and we all), can follow their example in some practical ways. How can we do this in such a complicated, busy modern world?
First begin by reading about Fatima and the messages, then make some time to recite the simple prayers which were passed onto the children.
Second, we can commit to reciting a daily Rosary. Finding time for the Rosary may be difficult, especially if you are a layperson who must work, study, or look after family members, but I find that waking up extra early and taking just 30 minutes out of my day is all that is required. Alternatively, you can pray one decade every few hours for a few minutes until all five decades of one mystery are complete.
Thirdly, we can read more about the First Five Saturdays devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, and commit ourselves to it.
* Regarding the title of this post, please never look at the sun as it will cause blindness.
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You!
I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.
Image Source: Author Unknown; source Illustracao Portugueza, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons