Our Lady at Fatima

Between May and October 1917, Our Lady appeared six times to three young Portuguese children in a field called the Cova de Iria, near the small village of Fatima, about 70 miles north of Lisbon.
by Father Matthew Mauriello | Source: Catholic.net
The children who received the apparitions had been brought up in an atmosphere of piety. They were Lucia dos Santos, aged 10, and her two younger cousins Francisco and Jacinta. They tended sheep together and often would kneel in the open field to pray the Rosary.

They were Lucia dos Santos, aged 10, and her two younger cousins Francisco and Jacinta. They tended sheep together and often would kneel in the open field to pray the Rosary.

The first apparition took place around noon on Sunday, May 13, 1917 when a brilliant flash of lightning drew the attention of the children. A beautiful Lady appeared clothed in white and asked the children to return the 13th of each month. In these apparitions, Mary asked the children to pray the Rosary daily for the conversion of sinners and asked for devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She asked for prayer, penance and that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. She also spoke of observing the first Saturdays of each month by going to confession and receiving Holy Communion to make reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

On the day of the final apparition, October 13, 1917, she identified herself as "Our Lady of the Rosary" and the dramatic episode of the dance of the sun took place, witnessed by a crowd of 70,000 people, in which the sun seemed to tumble from the sky. After a lengthy diocesan inquiry, a declaration of the Bishop of Leiria, in whose diocese these apparitions occurred, approved the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima in 1930. The young visionary Francisco had died on April 4, 1919 and his sister Jacinta on February 20, 1920. The sole survivor, Sister Lucia, lived many years as a professed Carmelite nun, before her death on February 13, 2005.

The first structure to be built on the location of the apparitions was a small archway which was soon replaced by a tiny chapel over the spot of the apparitions. When this first chapel was destroyed by dynamite in 1922, a second chapel was built and near to it the Pavilion of the Sick.
The foundation stone for the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary was laid on October 13, 1928 and the finished structure was solemnly consecrated by Cardinal Cerejeira, the Patriarch of Lisbon, on October 6, 1953. In the colonnade of the Basilica, there are fifteen altars, in honor of the Mysteries of the Rosary.

On October 31, 1942, in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the apparitions, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) solemnly consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. His Papal Legate, Cardinal Masella, crowned the statue of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 1946, the 300th Anniversary of the consecration of the nation of Portugal to Mary Immaculate.

On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the apparitions, on May 13, 1967, His Holiness Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) went to Fatima on a pilgrimage of prayer and peace. On that occasion, he published an Apostolic Exhortation, Signum Magnum, in which he invited "all members of the Church to consecrate themselves to Mary Immaculate and to put this pious act into concrete action in their daily lives."

Pope John Paul II offered Mass in Fatima on May 13, 1982, to give thanks for Mary's intercession in saving his life a year earlier. He reminded the faithful that "the message of Fatima is a call to conversion and repentance, the nucleus of the message of the Gospel." He re-consecrated the world to Mary's Immaculate Heart and called all to prayer, especially the Rosary.

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