The Centenary of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima – Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – 13 May 2017
Our Lady of Fátima (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora de Fátima, formally known as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Fátima Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima European Portuguese of the famed Marian apparitions reported in 1917 by three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria, in Fátima, Portugal. The three children were Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
Beginning in the spring of 1917, the children reported apparitions of an Angel and starting in May of 1917, apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The children reported a prophecy that prayer would lead to an end to the Great War and a prophecy that a miracle would occur on 13 October of that year. Many pilgrims began visiting the area in response to the prophecies. The events of 13 October became known as the Miracle of the Sun.
On 13 May 1946, Pope Pius XII granted a canonical coronation to the venerated image enshrined at the Chapel of the Apparitions of Fátima via his apostolic legate, Cardinal Benedetto Aloisi Masella. On 11 November 1954, the same Pontiff later raised the Sanctuary of Fátima to the status of Minor Basilica by his Papal brief Luce Superna.
The reported apparitions at Fátima were officially declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church, which commemorates the event on the same date. The published memoirs of Lúcia Santos’ in the 1930s revealed two secrets that she claimed came from the Virgin while the third secret was to be revealed by the Catholic Church in 1960. The controversial events at Fátima gained fame due partly to elements of the secrets, prophecy and eschatological revelations allegedly related to the Second World War and possibly more global wars in the future, particularly the Virgin’s alleged request for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Our Lady of Fatima
The famous apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the children of Fatima took place during the First World War, in the summer of 1917. The inhabitants of this tiny village in the diocese of Leiria (Portugal) were mostly poor people, many of them small farmers who went out by day to tend their fields and animals. Children traditionally were assigned the task of herding the sheep.
The three children who received the apparitions had been brought up in an atmosphere of genuine piety: Lucia dos Santos (ten years old) and her two younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta. Together they tended the sheep and, with Lucy in charge, would often pray the Rosary kneeling in the open. In the summer of 1916 an Angel appeared to them several times and taught them a prayer to the Blessed Trinity.
On Sunday, May 13, 1917, toward noon, a flash of lightning drew the attention of the children and they saw a brilliant figure appearing over the trees of the Cova da Iria. The “Lady” asked them to pray for the conversion of sinners and an end to the war, and to come back every month, on the 13th.
Further apparitions took place on June 13 and July 13. On August 13 the children were prevented by local authorities from going to the Cova da Iria but they saw the apparition on the 19th. On September 13 the Lady requested recitation of the Rosary for an end to the war. Finally, on October 13, the “Lady” identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary” and again called for prayer and penitence.
On that day a celestial phenomenon also took place: the sun seemed to tumble from the sky and crash toward earth. The children had been forewarned of it as early as May 13, the first apparition. The large crowd (estimated at 70,000 by reporters) that had gathered around the children saw the phenomenon and came away astounded.
Official recognition of the “visions” which the children had at the Cova da Iria came on October 13, 1930, when the bishop of Leiria – after long inquiry – authorized the cult of Our Lady of the Rosary at the site. The two younger children had died: Francisco (who saw the apparition but did not hear the words) on April 4, 1919, and his sister Jacinta on February 20, 1920. Sister Lucia died on February 13, 2005, at her Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal, after a long illness.
Today 13 May 2017 – the two – Francisco and Jacinta become Saints!