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Loving Mary Leads to Loving Jesus

May 13, 2009

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Here is a link to an article that tells part of the story and shows some lessons the author drew from it. Excerpts:

It was just under 100 years ago, in 1917, that three young children were out in the fields, near Fatima, Portugal, enjoying the sunshine while they prayed their rosary and watched their sheep. Theirs was a simple life, or at least it seems so from where I sit, bogged down with obligations and errands and the busy stuff of modern life.

. . .

Lucia, the oldest of the three children at ten, was known for her excellent memory, learning the catechism lessons and making her First Communion by age six and then becoming a catechist to others at nine. She was the youngest of her six siblings, and her two younger cousins, Francisco, age 8, and Jacinta, age 6, loved playing with her so much that they insisted on being included when Lucia was assigned the pasturing responsibilities with the sheep.

. . .

In May of 1916, sent to the shelter of an olive grove because of light rain, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, had finished their lunch and rosary and were playing a game with pebbles when a strong wind made them look around. They saw a white light in the form of a young man, transparent, coming toward them. The children could say nothing, but only looked on as the man came closer.

The young man was the angel of peace, and during the three times he met with the children, once more in the summer and again in the fall of 1916, he taught them deeper reverence and specific prayers to pray for Portugal and the world. We can look back over the events and see this time of the angelic apparitions as a time of tutelage for the children, preparing them for what was to follow.

It was almost eight months after the last apparition of the angel, on May 13, 1917, feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, when Mary first appeared to the children. They were pasturing their sheep in the Cova da Iria, or Cove of Irene, a hilly hollow owned by Lucia’s father, which was where, with one exception, that Mary would appear to the children on the six occasions in 1917 and to Lucia alone in 1920.

There was a strange light following what the children described as “lightening in a clear sky.” They were preparing to leave, thinking a storm was coming, when they saw a lady dressed in white. She was shining brighter than the sun, with clear and intense light coming off of her in rays, “just like a crystal goblet full of pure water when the fiery sun passes through it.” Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta stopped, so near to the apparition that they were in the light surrounding the lady.

Lucia was the spokesman for the children, perhaps by virtue of her engaging personality and insatiable curiosity. She said that she felt no fear, only gladness and confident joy. The lady asked them to return on the thirteenth of each month for six months, and after a brief conversation, in which the lady charged them with praying the rosary every day to bring peace to the world, she left.

In May, 1917, World War I was in full throttle in Europe, ushering in a new kind of savagery in warfare. In Moscow, Lenin was preparing the revolution that would topple the Russian social order and eventually include nearly half the people on earth. In those circumstances, a visit from Mary bore the antidote to the evil of the planet. The rosary is a weapon in our prayer lives. Our Lady of Fatima asked simple shepherd children to end the war through their prayers.

Though the children were filled with excitement, Lucia cautioned them to keep the visit a secret. Jacinta, though, simply could not. In her seven-year-old world, this was too much to keep quiet, and she told her family. Her mother didn’t think much of it, her siblings teased her, but her father accepted it as true immediately, seeing the honesty of children and the simple workings of God. When Lucia’s mother heard the tale, though, she was furious with her daughter for inventing such a blasphemy, and used threats to no avail, trying to get her daughter to admit the fiction of the story. She took Lucia before the parish priest and only grew more and more upset with her daughter.

There was no dissuading Lucia, nor either of the other children. They went on June 13, and on each of the following months, just as the lady had requested. A parish festival, the biggest of the year, did not distract them in June, and an arrest in August didn’t either.

In each of her apparitions, Mary reminds the children to pray the rosary daily. She came to the children after the angel; she appeared only after they had been prepared and taught. Though children, Mary asked them to pray for peace in the world and an end to the war, and she had an expectation — a knowledge — that the prayers of these simple shepherd children would, in fact, make a difference.

There is much more in the article, including the insights of the author relating this story to her own life, but it doesn’t tell about the final apparition in October: “The Miracle of the Sun” or “The Day the Sun Danced” as the event is sometimes called. (See for more about that miraculous event and what happened after it.)

The article concludes in this way:

My God,
I believe,
I adore,
I hope,
and I love You.

I ask pardon
for those who do not believe,
do not adore,
do not hope,
and do not love You.

Prayer taught to Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta by the Angel of Peace


Have discovered two other articles that dovetail with this one in different ways. You might find them interesting:

  • “Fatima and the Theology of the Body: Part I”

  • “Time to Think”

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