Our Lady of Fatima ~ 100th Anniversary
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal. She appeared to three shepherd children, Lucia Santos, 10, and her cousins, Jacinta, 7, and Francisco Marto, 9, once each month from May 13until Oct 13, 1917. The Church celebrates the Fatima apparitions as a feast day, along with the Guadalupe appearance on Dec 12 and Lourdes on Feb 11. This tells us much about the importance of the Fatima appearances.
The Fatima apparitions occurred during World War I. This was a time when secular movements such as Freemasonry and Communism were fomenting open hostility to theChristian faith. In 1911, the Freemasons in Portugal passed a law separating Church and State. One of their leaders, Alfonso Costa, predicted that in two generations, Catholicism would be completely eliminated in Portugal. The apparitions of Fatima occurred during a critical time in the life of Portugal and the world.
On Oct. 13, 1917, the last and most dramatic of the apparitions appeared. Some 55,000 people gathered on a rainy day near Cova da Iria in Fatima and witnessed the “miracle of the sun.” Another 20,000 people witnessed the miracle from as far away as 25 miles. The sun began spinning and grew larger, looking as if it was going to fall on the earth. People fell to their knees in fear. People then realized that their clothes were completely dry although they had been standing in the rain for some time. Even unbelievers and skeptics witnessed the phenomenon. The secular newspaper, O Século, ran a front page story on “How the sun danced at midday in Fatima.”
While the people were watching the miracle of the sun, the three children saw a sequence of apparitions. St. Joseph appeared with the Christ Child, and they blessed the world. The Blessed Mother appeared robed in white with a blue mantel; she then appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows and finally as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The Lady revealed her identity to the children as “Our Lady of the Rosary.” She asked them to pray the Rosary every day and to have a chapel built at Cova da Iria, the site of the apparitions. This is why the Church has named October as the month of the Rosary.
Many people, including Catholics, question honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially in calling Mary, “Our Mother.” In our current lecture series, “The Bible and the Virgin Mary,” we are learning why Mary should be honored and why she is “Our Mother.” This is revealedto us in the Bible!
The Gospel of John, along with St. Paul, presents Jesus as the New Adam and Mary as the New Eve. Just as Eve was “the mother of all the living” (Gen 3:20), so the New Eve is mother of all the living in the New Creation, which has been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. - Fr. Ben