May 12, 2017

Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima | 2017

Our Lady of the RosaryMay 13th is the optional memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, the title given to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the apparitions which occurred between May 13th and October 13th, 1917, at Cova da Iria, near the town of Fatima, Portugal, to three poor shepherd children. Lucia de Jesus Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

Our Lady told the children that she had been sent by God with an urgent message for humanity. At that time, World War I was raging, and Europe was being torn apart by violence and bloodshed. Our Lady promised that God would grant peace the world over should her call for prayer, reparation and consecration to her Immaculate Heart be honored. The Blessed Virgin emphasized to the seers and to the world at large, "If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace." However, if it were ignored and people did not cease offending God, a far worse war would befall mankind, during which innumerable souls would be lost. That conflict, World War II, would indeed come to pass, with catastrophic results.

The Message of Fatima

The public message of Fatima recalls that of Lourdes. Through the children, Mary urges prayer for sinners, recitation of the Rosary, and works of penance. On October 13, she said: "I have come to exhort the faithful to change their lives, to avoid grieving Our Lord by sin; to pray the Rosary. I desire in this place a chapel in my honor. If people mend their ways, the war will soon be over."

But Mary also confided several "secrets" to the children, some of which Lucy subsequently transmitted. Presumably there was prediction of another war in the near future and a request for special veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The final secret Lucy is thought to have entrusted to Pope John XXIII.

As at Lourdes, the "apparitions" of Fatima have brought crowds of visitors. Pilgrimages, which began in the summer of 1917, have experienced growing success, not only among the Portuguese themselves but also among people from other countries, including the United States. The national pilgrimage following ecclesiastical recognition of the apparitions (May 13, 1931) is said to have drawn more than a million participants.

Popes have shown exceptional favor toward Fatima, Pius XII, Paul VI, and John Paul II in particular making a visit to the shrine. The papal interest and the basilica built at the site of the apparitions has helped to swell the summer pilgrimages to Fatima. Crowds comparable to, and sometimes larger than, those at Lourdes are not uncommon. In a rustic setting, pilgrims hear the message repeated that Mary spoke to the children: prayer, works of penance, recourse to her Immaculate Heart.

Excerpt from Dictionary of Mary, Catholic Book Publishing Company.

Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of the most holy Rosary, you appeared to the three children of Fatima and reveal a glorious message. We implore you, inspire in our hearts a fervent love for the recitation of the Rosary. By meditating on the sacred mysteries of the redemption that are recalled therein may we obtain the graces and virtues that we implore, through the merits of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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