The October apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

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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 ninth and final installment in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The Apparition on the 13th of October was the sixth apparition of Our Lady. It was the most anticipated Marian apparition by believers and skeptics. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the miracle of the sun, we should reflect on what the children saw and what the rest of the people experienced. Sister Lucia recounts in her memoirs, “Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words,” the events of that miraculous day:

“We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way. Masses of people thronged the roads. The rain fell in torrents. My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would be the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.

“On the way, the scenes of the previous month, still more numerous and moving, were repeated. Not even the muddy roads could prevent these people from kneeling in the most humble and suppliant of attitudes. We reached the holmoak in the Cova da Iria. Once there, moved by an interior impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary. A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“‘What do you want of me?’ ‘I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.’ ‘I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things’ ‘Some yes, but not others.  They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.’ Looking very sad, Our Lady said: ‘Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended.’

“Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself. Here, Your Excellency, is the reason why I cried out to the people to look at the sun. My aim was not to call their attention to the sun, because I was not even aware of their presence. I was moved to do so under the guidance of an interior impulse.

“After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.”

For Jacinta and Francisco this would be their last public visit from Our Lady. Lucia would receive a seventh visit of Our Lady at the Cova in 1920 where Our Blessed Mother urged her to give herself to the service of God as a religious Sister. It is interesting to note that while the three children witnessed the apparitions of the Holy Family, Our Lady of Sorrows with Our Lord and Our Lady of Carmel, the crowds of 70,000 people experienced a different miraculous phenomenon. Eyewitness accounts stated that an immense multitude turned toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith. Soaked in water from the rains which fell until the apparition, the reports of various sources saw the “miracle of the sun” as a swirling disc which appeared to break free from the heavens and hurl itself down to earth until it recessed back into the sky, leaving the people completely dry. O Seculo, a pro-government, anti-clerical Lisbon paper reported the following:

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“At one o’clock in the afternoon, midday by the sun, the rain stopped. The sky, pearly grey in color, illuminated the vast arid landscape with a strange light. The sun had a transparent gauzy veil so that the eyes could easily be fixed upon it. The grey mother-of-pearl tone turned into a sheet of silver which broke up as the clouds were torn apart and the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and people fell on their knees on the muddy ground.

“The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands. The blue faded slowly, and then the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. Yellow stains fell against white handkerchiefs, against the dark skirts of the women. They were repeated on the trees, on the stones and on the serra. People wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.”

 Ti Marto, father of Jacinta and Francisco, reported the following:

“The sun turned everything to different colors — yellow, blue and white. Then it shook and trembled. It looked like a wheel of fire that was going to fall on the people. They began to cry out, ‘We shall all be killed’ Others called to Our Lady to save them. They recited Acts of Contrition. One woman began to confess her sins aloud, advertising that she had done this and that. When at last the sun stopped leaping and moving, we all breathed our relief. We were still alive, and the miracle which the children had foretold, had been seen by everyone.” 

It is interesting to note that the children did not witness the “miracle of the sun” as the thousands had, rather they saw the visions in the sun as Sister Lucia reported above. Only the children saw the apparition of the Holy Family, Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lord and finally Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

For the purposes of this article on the October apparition, I would also like to offer a reflection on the significance of the three apparitions that the children witnessed. First, the appearance of the Holy Family is reflective of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. As we pray these mysteries and consider the life of Jesus within the Holy Family, we reflect upon the good of the Christian family. We see in the Mystery of the Annunciation the call to motherhood, the mission of the angel, the virtue of humility in one’s openness to the gift of life and the indissolubility of Marriage and chastity according to one’s state in life in the chaste espousal of St. Joseph and Our Lady. 

We also meditate on the call of God to His bride, the Church, in the person of Mary, mother of the Church, to a fruitful spousal fidelity with the “Son of the Most High” which bears fruit at the foot of the cross as the Precious Blood is “shed for many for the remission of sins.”  In the Mystery of the Visitation we meditate on the joyful call to mission by proclaiming the Word and by serving our neighbor. We reflect on our call to praise and thanksgiving in the Canticle of Zachariah and the Magnificat of Our Lady, because there is joy in being made a Christian by Baptism and thereby a messenger of the Gospel and a servant of the Lord. In the mystery of the Nativity, we contemplate the joy of Spiritual and actual poverty which depends on Divine providence, openness to God’s gift of life in welcoming the child who is created in God’s image and likeness, our neighbor and the alien as welcoming Christ with a spirit of gratitude, giving glory to God in the Holy Eucharist, Who enables us to become people of peace by doing the will of the Father. 

In the Mystery of the Presentation we contemplate the virtue and purity of obedience and the necessity to conform our wills to Christ’s lest He become for us a sign of contradiction. In the Mystery of the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple we meditate on the Church as the new Israel and new Jerusalem where the Christ Child is found. It is in the Church where Christ reconciles us to the Father in the Sacrament of Confession that we may share in a holy communion of love with Him Who is “my Lord and my God” as expressed by Thomas the Apostle in the sight of the Risen Lord and in “my God and my All” as expressed by the seraphic St. Francis.

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary are reflected by the apparition of Our Lord with Our Lady of Sorrows. Here we may reflect on how Mary, the archetype of the Church, teaches us how to accompany our crucified Savior in our sorrowful pilgrimage of life filled with pains and sufferings. By meditating on the Agony of Jesus we recognize the need for contrition for our sins, at the Scourging at the Pillar the need to do Penance and to mortify our bodies and our senses of touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. With Penance, we make reparation for sins of the flesh in gluttony, sexual immorality, luxury and sensuality, which cause many souls to go to hell. In the Crowning with Thorns we meditate on the need for charity in our thoughts. How good it is to always think well of others, rather than condemn others by our criticism and rash judgments. Rather we should pray and make sacrifices for them instead, remembering Our Lord’s words, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” 

In the Carrying of the Cross, we meditate on the need for each of us to embrace the gift of the cross daily, even as Our Lord and Our Lady did before us, because as Our Lord said, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mk 8:34).  In the Mystery of the Crucifixion, we contemplate Our Lord with Our Lady of Sorrows at the foot of the cross. We meditate on how much Jesus and Mary love us that they gave us everything they hold most dear, their very lives, their united sorrowful and pierced hearts — the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of Christ shed for our Salvation, for each personally, as re-presented to us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in an unbloody manner. Here is where we must rest, in personal and communal thanksgiving for the call to co-redemption in union with Mary which Jesus extends to us with His words, “Woman, behold thy son” and “Behold thy Mother.” In the summit of His love, Our Lord cries, “I thirst.” It is a thirst for the Salvation of souls and for a legion of souls, of co-redeemers formed as sons of Mary, who will continue to offer His sorrowful Passion through the holy sacrifice for the conversion of sinners, even as the children of Fatima did as if they were some Carthusian monks.

The apparition of Our Lady of Mount Carmel reflects the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. First we meditate on the call to faith with the Resurrection of Our Lord and faith in our own rising if we believe in Him and remain faithful to the end. We meditate on the call to hope in Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven from whence we hope that He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.  We meditate and pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit through Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces, to come upon us as Pentecost came upon the early Church so that we may see the good and do it. We meditate on Our Lady who “full of grace” from her Immaculate Conception increased in grace and merit as the most perfect disciple of Christ, who was fittingly assumed into Heaven body and soul. Finally, we meditate on the crowning glory of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth and pray for the virtue of holy perseverance. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the triumphant Queen Mother of Our Lord who promises Salvation to those who devoutly pray and wear her Brown Scapular.

The appearance of Our Lady of Mount Carmel should remind us of the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament who in a contest with the prophets of Baal invited them to sacrifice a bull to their gods while the prophet Elijah would sacrifice a bull to the Lord God as the only true God. The false prophets called upon their false gods but to no avail. The prophet Elijah however after pouring buckets of water upon his bull called upon the Lord God and God sent fire from Heaven to consume the sacrifice, proving that He alone is the Lord, the true and only God. Those who followed Baal were destroyed.  

Like the days of the prophet Elijah, the Church is passing and will continue to pass through her passion. The apostasy has been set in motion, as we see so many clergy religious and laity falling away from the true Catholic faith handed down to us from the Apostles. Those who remain faithful to the Lord God in the Catholic Church will be persecuted but must necessarily go through this fire in order to enter the Heavenly Jerusalem. Those who seek their heaven on this earth will follow the spirit of the antichrist and fall away from the true Catholic faith, seeking those who tickle their ears with compromise and entertainment, instead of the Gospel message of repentance of sin and Reconciliation through Christ Our Savior.  Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the mother of God carrying her Son, Our Lord and Redeemer as on a throne of mercy. Consecration to Mary and wearing the Brown Scapular is a sign of our belonging to Mary and our desire to live under her mantle in the Church and under her maternal influence. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” speaks of this coming trial:

“Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of His Messiah come in the flesh. 

“The antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the Kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the ‘intrinsically perverse’ political form of a secular messianism.

“The Church will enter the glory of the Kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in His death and Resurrection. The Kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause His Bride to come down from Heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world” (CCC 675-677).

Our Lady revealed herself on this last public apparition as Our Lady of the Rosary. She came to bring us a warning but also a message of hope because it is by means of devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart that the Mother of God will triumph over the spirit of antichrist that is in the world and is assailing the Church from all sides. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is practiced by living a life of grace. This means keeping the God’s Commandments, attending Sunday Mass, praying the Holy Rosary daily, doing all in the Spirit of a sacrifice lovingly offered for the conversion of sinners, keeping the First Five Saturdays in reparation for sins against the Mother of God and Marian consecration through devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is acknowledging God is already much offended and that we must not sin anymore but rather console the hearts of Jesus and Mary and make reparation as these children did! 

There are many methods of making a Marian Consecration, the most popular is the “33 Days to Morning Glory. “The more traditional method is the “True Devotion to Mary,” by St. Louis Marie de Montfort. Both are means of preparation for consecration to Our Blessed Mother for all who are serious about their Salvation. Through these means we can find healing, Sanctification and cooperate with Jesus and Mary in the Salvation of souls.  Sister Lucia herself became a Carmelite nun, an order consecrated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Similarly, every Catholic is called by Our Blessed Mother to wear her Brown Scapular, a Sacramental which many popes and saints have worn as a sign of their special devotion and consecration to Mary.  It is a way we can consecrate ourselves setting us apart for God’s Sacred purposes. 

Every Catholic should be consecrated to Mary and live as her true children. Our Lady of Fatima, on Oct. 13, 1917, held the Brown Scapular in her hand, making the three child seers, Lucy, Jacinta and Francisco, understand that she wants all of us to wear the Scapular. In a 1936 letter, written at Pontevedra, Sister Lucia quotes Our Lord as saying that He wants devotion to His mother’s Immaculate Heart alongside devotion to His Own Sacred Heart. So consecration to Mary, as a means of giving her greater honor and love, is God’s will for us, and in no way detracts from His Own glory.

On Pentecost, the Spiritual descendants of Elijah and his followers came down from Mount Carmel. These were the first to accept the message of Christianity and were Baptized by the Apostles. When, at last, they were presented to Our Lady, and heard the sweet words from her lips, they were overcome with a sense of majesty and Sanctity which they never forgot.  Accompanied by a multitude of angels, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock, one of the hermits, holding in her hands the Scapular of the Order, and said: “This shall be to you and to all Carmelites a privilege that anyone who dies clothed in this [Scapular] shall not suffer eternal fire.” The Scapular represents Our Lady’s protection and her care for us. She promised to St. Simon Stock: “It shall be a sign of Salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” What a great privilege to be clothed in the mantel or the Brown Scapular of our Blessed Mother! What a great promise! Can you afford to neglect such an easy means to your Salvation? Our Lord instructed those who asked for healing to do very simple things, like washing in the water and showing themselves to the priest. When they did so, they were cleansed of their leprosy but only one returned in gratitude.  

In a similar fashion, Our Lord sends His mother in our times to warn us and to tell us to pray the Holy Rosary and wear the Brown Scapular, very simple things which anyone can do. Let us turn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus dwelling under the mantel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and follow Our Lord along the way of the cross until we are safely greeted by our Immaculate Mother into Paradise — the goal of our pilgrim journey. By so doing we will be fulfilling the command of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:29). How easy it is to be yoked to Jesus under the Brown Scapular of Mary so as to allow our Celestial parents to bring us to Heaven to live in an eternal bond of love with the Blessed Trinity and the Communion of Saints in the Church Triumphant. Let us remember that for those who follow Our Lady of Fatima’s peace plan from Heaven and make her Immaculate Heart their refuge, Our Lady promised, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Let us hasten to make Our Lady’s promise a reality for us and the whole world! 

Ave Maria!


© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts