Our Lady of Fátima is a famous Marian apparition first witnessed by three children in Fátima, Portugal on May 13, 1917. It was recognized by the Roman Catholic church in 1930. On May 13, 2017, Pope Francis canonized two of the children.
Our Lady of Fátima Asked for Peace and the End of War
Fátima is a farming town in central Portugal. While herding sheep in a meadow nearby on May 13, 1917, three young children claimed to have been visited by an apparition of the Virgin Mary who asked them to return to the same place at the same day of the month for six months.
The children were nine year old Lúcia Santos (1907-2005), and her cousins nine year old Francisco Marto (1908-1919) and seven year old Jacinta Marto (1910-1920).
It Takes a Village
Though the children had promised each other not to say anything, Lúcia the youngest told her mother. Her mother didn’t take it seriously, but mentioned it to her neighbors. Soon the entire village found out. Lúcia’s mother asked the village priest what to do. He suggested to let them go and that he would speak with the children afterwards.
The second apparition told Lúcia that Francisco and Jacinta would go to heaven soon, but Lúcia would have a long life so she could share her story of devotion.
When news of the apparition began to draw crowds, the local authorities blocked the children from visiting the meadow and threatened them with boiling in oil if they didn’t recant. The children remained steadfast.
The vision foretold of war, communism, and the the death of a pope.
News circulated that the Virgin Mary would perform a miracle on her sixth appearance that would make everyone believe. A large crowd, reported to be over 30,000 people, gathered on October 13th, the date for the sixth appearance.
Many in the crowd were surprised by a solar phenomena which was reported as the sun dancing. The event is now known as the Miracle of the Sun.
True to the foretelling, Francisco and Jacinta died two years later in the global 1918 flu pandemic. Lúcia became a nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97.
The Sanctuary of Fátima
The meadow has become a pilgrimage site. It has grown into the Sanctuary of Fátima (Santuário de Nossa Senhora de Fátima).
From the Editor
Marian apparitions seem silly – until you and your entire family sees one. It happened to me. Once upon a time, we had an old rock wall in the backyard. My partner excitedly reported seeing The Virgin there. Sure enough and all four of us, the entire family, saw her.
She was dressed like a Spanish queen. My partner took it as a sign that Spain was part of our destiny. The Virgin was there for a few days and then faded away.
The story doesn’t end there. Years later I start writing about La Virgen de Candelaria, patron saint of Tenerife in the Spanish, Canary Islands, and patroness of Black communities across the Americas. When I found a photo of her, I almost fell over because I had seen her before ~ on the rock wall in my backyard.