The July 13 apparition of Mary


Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the sixth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The apparition of Our Lady of Fatima on July 13 is one of the most notable of the apparitions. In this third apparition, we see the Blessed Virgin who showed hell to the three children: Lucia, 10, Francisco, nine, and Jacinta, seven. In an age which blatantly denies the existence of sin and hell, we see the mother of God showing hell, the place of eternal damnation to three innocent children. There the children see demons in the form of horrible monsters, and the souls of the damned burning in a huge fire! Why would she do such a thing? In this article we hope to see once more the importance of our prayer of the Holy Rosary and the power of Mary’s intercession to save our souls. Lucia describes in her memoirs the details of this third Marian apparition:

“A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holm oak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holm oak. ‘What do you want of me?’ I asked. ‘I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.’

“In this apparition, the Blessed Mother explicitly requested that the Holy Rosary be prayed every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. The singular power reserved to Our Lady under this title is seen by Mary’s words when she says that the Rosary is to be prayed ‘to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.’”

On Sunday, Oct. 7, 1571 the combined Christian fleets achieved a significant naval victory over the Turks in the Straits of Lepanto. Thousands of Christians were liberated, the Turkish fleet was destroyed, and they suffered their first great defeat at sea. In gratitude to God and Our Lady, Pope St. Pius V ordered an annual commemoration to be made of Our Lady of Victory. In 1573 Pope Gregory XIII transferred the feast to the first Sunday of October with the title feast of the Most Holy Rosary since the victory was won through invocation of Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1716 Pope Clement XII extended the feast to the whole Latin Rite calendar, assigning it to the first Sunday in October. Pope St. Pius X changed the date to October 7 in 1913. In 1969, Pope Paul VI changed the name of the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary. Countless graces have been bestowed on Christendom through the Queen of the Holy Rosary. 

It is in this historical context of World War I and the onset of a communist Revolution in Russia that Our Blessed Mother wanted to be invoked once again to obtain her powerful protection by the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary. One hundred years later in the midst of international upheaval, Pope Francis still exhorts us to pray the Rosary for peace. Pope Francis in condemning the November 13 Paris attacks referred to them as a “piecemeal World War III” as the level of violence around the world rapidly rises, fueled by militant Islamists. Prior to his trip to Fatima on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Pope Francis pleaded, “In this month of May, let us pray the Rosary in particular for peace. Please! let us pray the Rosary for peace, as the Virgin of Fatima asked us to do.” Once again, the message is urgent and relevant for our times.

“‘I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us.’ 

‘Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.’ I then made some requests, but I cannot recall now just what they were. What I do remember is that Our Lady said it was necessary for such people to pray the Rosary in order to obtain these graces during the year.”

Our Blessed Mother agrees to the children’s requests to tell the children who she is and to work a miracle in October so that everybody would see and believe that Mary was appearing to the children. It is reminiscent of John 20:24-29: “Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told Him, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

We who have not seen Our Lady’s apparitions and October miracle yet have believed and put her requests into practice are also blessed. It also becomes clear that obedience to Our Lady’s request to pray the Rosary will work miracles of grace for those who seek them because Mary is the mediatrix of all graces.

 And she continued: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’ As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me.) The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly: ‘You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded Russia will be converted, and there will be peace, if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved. Do not tell this to anybody. Francisco, yes, you may tell him. When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell lead all souls to Heaven especially those who are most in need.’ After this, there was a moment of silence, and then I asked: ‘Is there anything more that you want of me?’ ‘No, I do not want anything more of you today.’ Then, as before Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until she finally disappeared in the immense distance of the firmament.”

First, let us note that Our Lady exhorts the children to make sacrifices, a continuity of the appeal made of the Angel in his prior apparitions. Our Lady requested that sacrifices be made conscientiously and with a deliberate intention saying the prayer she offers when we make a sacrifice, “O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” The fulfillment of the two great Commandments is reflected in this prayer: love of God and love of neighbor. To save souls the message points once again to devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Those who are devoted to our Blessed Mother will be conscientious in making intentional reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart. Our Blessed Mother asked for the consecration of Russia, and Eucharistic Communions of reparation on the First Saturday of five consecutive months to repair the five sins against her Immaculate Heart: (1) blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception, (2) against her perpetual virginity, (3) against the Divine Maternity, refusing at the same time to accept her as the mother of all mankind, (4) those who try publicly to implant in the children’s hearts indifference, contempt, and even hatred against this Immaculate Mother, and (5) those who insult her directly in her Sacred images. It is clear that those who sin against God, their neighbor and the Blessed Virgin Mary are in danger of eternal punishment and therefore the Mother of God came to Fatima to ask her faithful children to stand with Mary in the breach imploring from God their conversion through the prayer of the Holy Rosary and personal sacrifice and Penance. 

In “The Calls from the Message of Fatima,” Sister Lucia states, “There are unbelievers in the world who deny these realities, but this does not make them any the less real; nor does these people’s incredulity deliver them from the pains of hell if their lives of sin should lead them to it. There are many passages in Sacred Scripture that speak to us about hell and its torments, and about those who go there.” One particular passage leaves no doubt. Jesus says, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands go to hell, to unquenchable fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mk 9:43-49) Sister Lucia in “Calls” explains: “The last passage quoted does not mean that God really intends us to tear out our eyes or to cut off our hands and feet, but that we are to tear out, or cut off, the temptations, evil inclinations, passions and vices which drag us along the path of sin and might, for this reason, be the cause of our eternal damnation” (“Calls,” page 139).

Today there are many who deny that the doctrine of hell exists. Yet, the Blessed Virgin showed the reality of hell to the children with an expression of sadness. The vision of hell was initially kept secret and was not revealed until 1941. Mary’s message remains relevant to us today in a society that has forgotten the four last things: death, judgement, Heaven or hell. On Nov. 22, 2016, Pope Francis said “The Lord will come to judge the earth. However, some people don’t recognize that fact, deceiving themselves into thinking the end is nowhere in sight, and how they live on earth has no consequences after death. I remember when I was a boy, when I’d go to catechism they taught us four things: death, judgment, hell or glory — that after judgment there’s this possibility” of going to hell or sharing in God’s glory. But the kids were incredulous telling the priest he was only saying those things to scare them. The priest insisted, ‘No, it’s true! Because if you do not take care of your heart so that the Lord is with you, and you always live far from the Lord, perhaps there is this danger, the danger of continuing to be distanced from the Lord for all of eternity.’”

According to Sister Lucia, Our Lady’s call to devotion to her Immaculate Heart makes clear the consistent teaching of the Church on hell or God’s glory. Sister Lucia describes two distinct progenies. “The progeny of Satan, which leads people into the way of sin, and the progeny of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who, as the mother of the children of God, leads them in the way of truth, justice and love, since God is love, and all His children are known by the way they love. And whereas the children of God climb by the way of love to the possession of eternal happiness in the Kingdom of God, the children of Satan are dragged down by the vileness of sin into the abyss of eternal punishment.”

Our Lady at Fatima, during all six of her apparitions told the children they must pray, especially the Rosary. The three children responded generously to Our Lady’s requests and made sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, to save them from hell. What is keeping you from doing the same thing? Do not say, “I do not have the time!” Because if you are too busy to pray the Rosary, then you are busier than God intends you to be! Meditate upon the following words of Our Lord: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Mt 16:26). Our first priority is to save our soul and we do so by keeping God’s Commandments and the Commandments of the Church. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary offers us a sure path which leads securely to Heaven and glory. Let us do our part then to fulfill Our Blessed Mother’s requests at Fatima by praying the Rosary, making sacrifices and completing the First Five Saturdays of Reparation.

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