FEAST DAY: May 13
DAY OF THE WEEK: Tuesday
CANDLE COLOR: White
LEGEND: Between May and October of 1917, three shepherd children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto reported visions of the Virgin Mary in the Cova da Iria fields outside the village of Aljustrel, very close to Fatima, Portugal. They had this experience on the 13th day of each month at approximately the same hour. Lúcia described seeing Mary as "more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun."
According to Lúcia's account, Mary confided to the children three secrets, known as the Three Secrets of Fatima.She exhorted the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners. The children wore tight cords around their waists to cause pain, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance. Most important, Lúcia said Mary asked them to say the Rosary every day, reiterating many times that the Rosary was the key to personal and world peace. Many young Portuguese men, including relatives of the visionaries, were then fighting in World War I.
Thousands of people flocked to Fatima and Aljustrel in the ensuing months, drawn by reports of visions and miracles. On August 13, 1917, the provincial administrator Arturo Santos (no relation), believing that the events were politically disruptive, intercepted and jailed the children before they could reach the Cova da Iría that day.Prisoners held with them in the provincial jail later testified that the children, while upset, were consoled by the inmates, and then led the inmates in saying the Rosary. Administrator Santos interrogated the children primarily about the alleged secrets, but was unsuccessful in his attempt to discover what those secrets were.Santos went so far as to feign the preparation of a pot of boiling oil, and then removed the children one by one from his interrogation room, claiming that each removed child had been boiled to death in the oil, and urging the remaining child to divulge the secret so as to avoid a similar fate. That month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iría on the 13th of the month, the children reported that they saw Mary on the 19th of August at nearby Valinhos.
On October 13, 1917, the final in the series of the apparitions of 1917, a crowd believed to be approximately 70,000 in number, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iría in response to reports of the children's prior claims that on that day a miracle would occur "so that all may believe". It rained heavily that day, yet, countless observers reported that the clouds broke, revealing the sun as an opaque disk spinning in the sky and radiating various colors of light upon the surroundings, then appearing to detach itself from the sky and plunge itself towards the earth in a zigzag pattern, finally returning to its normal place, and leaving the people's once wet clothing now completely dry. The event is known as the "Miracle of the Sun".
Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século (Portugal's most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical), reported the following "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws-the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people." Eye specialist Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho, writing for the newspaper Ordem reported "The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceeding fast and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat".
The special reporter for the October 17, 1917 edition of the Lisbon daily, O Dia, reported the following, "...the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds...The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands...people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they."
No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was registered by scientists at the time. According to contemporary reports from poet Afonso Lopes Vieira and schoolteacher Delfina Lopes with her students and other witnesses in the town of Alburita, the solar phenomena were visible from up to forty kilometers away. The three shepherd children, in addition to reporting seeing the actions of the sun that day, also reported seeing a panorama of visions, including those of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of Saint Joseph blessing the people.
Lúcia reported seeing the Virgin again in 1925 at the Dorothean convent at Pontevedra, Galicia (Spain). This time, she said she was asked to convey the message of the First Saturday Devotions. A subsequent vision of the Christ Child Himself reiterated this request, by her account.
Lúcia was transferred to another convent in Tui or Tuy, Galicia in 1928. In 1929, Lúcia reported that Mary returned and repeated her request for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
Lúcia reportedly saw Mary in private visions off and on throughout her life. Most significant was the apparition in Rianxo, Galicia in 1931, in which Sister Lúcia said that Jesus visited her, taught her two prayers, and delivered a message to give to the hierarchy of the Church.
In 1947, Sister Lúcia left the Dorothean order and joined the Carmelite order in a convent in Coimbra, Portugal. Lúcia died on February 13, 2005, at the age of 97. After her death, the Vatican, specifically Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (at that time, still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) ordered her cell sealed off. It is believed this was because Sister Lúcia had continued to receive more revelations, and they wished to censor them, or perhaps simply to examine them in the course of proceedings for Lúcia's canonization.
Lúcia's cousins, the siblings Francisco (1908–1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910–1920), were both victims of the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1919.
Francisco and Jacinta were declared "venerable" by Pope John Paul II in a public ceremony at Fatima on 13 May 1989. John Paul returned there on 13 May 2000, to declare them "blessed" (one step from sainthood). Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.
During the second apparition on June 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary predicted the deaths of two of the children, although Lucia did not tell anybody about these predictions until 1941. Some accounts, including the testimony of Olimpia Marto (mother of the two younger children) state that her children did not keep this information secret and ecstatically predicted their own deaths many times to her and to curious pilgrims. According to the 1941 account, on June 13, Lúcia asked the Virgin if the three children would go to heaven when they died. She heard Mary reply, "Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart. Jacinta, in fact, accurately predicted the time and detailed circumstances of her death, according to Lúcia and hospital staff.
Exhumed in 1935 and again in 1951, Jacinta's body was found incorrupt. Francisco's had decomposed.
PETITION OUR LADY OF FATIMA: for protection from evil, the wrath of adversaries, freedom from binding situations, against the harm of evil spirits.
Say this prayer every day for 9 consecutive days May 5-13
Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.
By meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in your Rosary, may we gather the fruits contained therein and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, the Peace of Christ for the world, and this favor that I so earnestly seek of you in this novena....
(here mention your request)
I ask this of you, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor and for the good of all people. Amen
Glory Be (three times each)
This Nine Day Novena is performed starting October 5-13
Mary, you appeared to the children of Fatima to deliver an urgent message about our troubled world. Soon after, the entire world was at war, resulting in terrible sorrow and destruction. Today, as violence has erupted again, in distant lands and even in our own home, the prayers and sacrifice you pleaded for are needed as much as ever. Some parts of the world are torn by fighting disguised as religious zeal, and even our own neighborhoods are divided by racial tension. Charity begins at home; if we fail to love the neighbor at our doorstep, how will we spread the Gospel of love beyond?
Mary, today I hear your words and I call upon your Son to come to our aid and end the suffering that we cause one another. I pray for an end to all wars throughout the world. Help us, Jesus, to sow love in the place of hatred.
Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were very young and yet, Mary, you chose them to be to be your messengers to the world. In doing so, you reminded us that, as followers of Jesus, we must be like little children – trusting and loving. Let us pray that we too may be like children, choosing to offer love and trust where we would be tempted to choose hatred and suspicion.
Mary, I trust your Son completely. But sometimes, I live in fear. I want to love unconditionally, but I am too afraid to let go of my anxieties, too afraid to admit that I cannot control everything. I want to be your Son's instrument to accomplish God's will. Today, through your intercession, Mary, I ask Jesus to help me be like a little child holding His hand, trusting all to Him.
The children of Fatima heard your plea to pray. Today, we also need to pray, especially for peace in the world. We have been reminded most painfully of how uncertain life is, and how fragile. Yet rather than despair, we are moved to grow closer to God, so as to know the comfort of His presence in this world and in the next. For the kingdom comes like a thief in the night; truly we know not the hour nor the day.
Show me, Mary, how to pray always. Help me to speak to God as to a trusted friend, sharing my truest feelings. Guide me, also, in my efforts to reach that perfect inner silence, so that I may listen for what God has to tell me. Throughout my busy and distracting days, help me to keep my mind and my heart centered on God.
At Fatima, Mary, you called on us to make sacrifices. The great needs of our suffering brothers and sisters in our country and around the world ask of us sacrifices today. Many have answered these requests with gifts of money and supplies. Many others have chosen to serve something greater than themselves, far from the comfort of home. Let us all be willing to give what we can; let us all seek to think less of ourselves than of those who have less.
Whisper a reminder in my ear each morning, Mary, to offer all my day's actions, thoughts, and words, all my gifts of time and treasure, to God. As I make this offering, I call to mind all the people affected by my actions each day. I ask God today to help me to be motivated by love and compassion in all that I do.
Mary, at Fatima you told us: "Do penance." At this time, it may seem an especially galling task; we would rather point out how grievously we have been wronged by others. It may seem that your Son's proverb has been turned on its head – the plank is in our brother's eye, the speck in our own. Yet still we must turn our scrutiny upon ourselves. Having been deeply hurt, we recognize that we have also hurt others, and we seek all the more readily to mend what we have broken.
Mary, help me find the humility to seek forgiveness for my sins and make amends for my wrongful actions. Help me to open my heart to the healing touch of Jesus.
Mary, the children said they had seen a vision of hell. All too many people around the world live in places so desperate that they might be compared to hell. In many places, terror strikes daily and innocents die in senseless war. The cycle of violence and revenge is perpetuated, with no end in sight. We would do well to remember the relative comfort we are blessed with, and realize that many are not so fortunate.
Today, Mary, I pray for an easing of the suffering and injustice that mark much of the world. I pray for all who face oppression at the hands of another. I pray that they find a peaceful way to resolve their differences. I pray in thanksgiving for all the blessings I enjoy; may I be always ready to share them with others.
Mary, through the power of God you performed a miracle at Fatima and made the sun dance. Jesus told us that, even with faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. This is hard to believe – yet every day, we all have opportunities to make a great difference in the world. We can open closed hearts with our love. This may seem a small and undramatic kind of miracle, but it is the kind most needed today.
Mary, I pray that I might follow your example, and allow myself to be one through whom God works in the world. Though the work may be so small and simple as to seem insignificant, help me to trust in God's greater plan. May I be always, like you, willing to answer God's call.
Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were all normal children living ordinary lives. As they show us, we do not need to be important or powerful in the eyes of the world to do God's work. When we feel too small and helpless to change things, we remember that all we need are faith, trust, humility, and wisdom, to make of ourselves God's instruments.
God, I am an ordinary person. But like the children of Fatima, I want to bring Your Word to the world. Give me the strength to overcome my fears and my doubts, so that I might be a messenger of Your love.
Mary, your apparition at Fatima was an extraordinary event. Most of us will never experience an apparition. But we know that Christ lives in our hearts and comes to us in the Eucharist. How wonderful it is that we can receive the body and blood of your Son and be nourished by it.
Thank you, Mary, for appearing to Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta and delivering a message that is as relevant today as it was then. Thank You, God my Creator, for giving me life and so many blessings. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me Your body and blood in the Eucharist. And thank You, Holy Spirit, for dwelling in me and giving me courage. Most of all, thank You, God, for Your love.
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