Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Fatima
Fatima, one of the most controversial issues in Church history… Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Fatima or the apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima designate the six apparitions of the Virgin Mary as they took place in Fátima, a small village in central Portugal, six times during the year 1917 to three shepherd children – Lucie dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinthe Marto. These apparitions, whose prophetic messages relate to prayer and final ends, were initially the object of mistrust, both on the part of civil authorities and religious authorities. The “sun miracle”, which closes the cycle of apparitions, will be the object of great emotion among the crowd of 70,000 people gathered, and will be the object of numerous controversies and publications.
While visiting the Sanctuary of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Francis addresses one of the most controversial issues in the recent history of the Catholic Church. She recognized, in 1930, the apparitions of the Virgin Mary, to three young shepherds, during the year 1917. The Pope will canonize, Saturday May 13 – hundredth anniversary of these phenomena including a “dance of the sun” which was visible by a crowd of 70,000 people – two of the three seers, François and Jacinthe, died respectively, in 1919 and 1920, of the Spanish flu.
The process of beatification of the third visionary, Sister Lucia, who died at the age of 97 on February 13, 2005, is underway. It is this nun who was the holder of the famous “secret of Fatima” revealed twice, 1941 for the first two parts. The last section – entrusted directly to the papacy in a sealed envelope – was to be kept secret until 1960.
“A vision of hell”
The first part evoked “a vision of hell”. The second announced the Second World War and in particular demanded “the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart” to prevent this country from “spreading its errors in the world”, in this case atheistic communism.
As for the third part, it was only made public by the Vatican on June 26, 2000, but after much hesitation. Pope John XXIII (elected in 1958, died in 1963) as well as Pope Paul VI (elected in 1963, died in 1978) have in fact taken cognizance of the final part of this “secret” but considered it preferable not to have it. make public.
John Paul II, on his convalescent bed in 1981 after the attack on May 13 – the anniversary of the apparitions in Portugal – believed he had been “saved” by the virgin of Fatima. At the hospital, he had the famous envelope delivered to him that his two predecessors had again sealed and handed over to the secrecy of the Vatican archives.
At the end of a process of several years, he decided to publish its contents during the jubilee of the year 2000. We can read in this document: “The Holy Father (…) was killed by a group of soldiers who fired several shots with a gun and arrows ”. John Paul II asked Sister Lucia if she recognized the announcement of the attack he had suffered. She answered in the affirmative, according to the cardinal who questioned her on behalf of the Pope.
The Vatican would not have said everything about secrecy
But the controversy that existed before this publication – for many did not understand why the Church had not published the third part of the secret in 1960 – continued on two themes. The Vatican has not said everything about the secret hiding, according to these sources, the announcement of a form of denial of the Catholic faith within the Church itself; the popes would not have respected to the letter “the consecration of Russia” to the “Immaculate Heart” of Mary. In fact none of them, during these prayers, mentioned “Russia” – in particular so as not to provoke Russian orthodoxy – except by allusion.
But many, on the contrary – including Cardinal Ratzinger, future Benedict XVI, then charged by John Paul II to decipher this mystery – considered that the matter was closed. The German cardinal explained during a public presentation of the last secret in 2000 that the prophecy had been fulfilled. He also insisted that the public faith of the universal Church could not depend on “private revelation.” And that the “conversion” and “penance” requested by the Virgin were unceasingly topical for every Christian.
One of the challenges of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to Fatima (John XXIII and John Paul I went there just before becoming Pope, Paul VI went there in 1967, John Paul II in 1982, 1991, 2000, Benedict XVI in 2010) is to know how this Latin American pope who does not hide his personal devotion to the Virgin Mary, will approach and treat this subject which remains for many a complete mystery.