The Message of Fatima
The Message & Requests of Our Lady
First Part of the Message: A Vision of Hell
“Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth,” wrote Lucia. “Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning coals floating about in the blaze, now thrown 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 a great bonfire, without weight or balance, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear.
The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive shapes, like frightful unknown animals, all black and transparent.
This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever repay our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first apparition, to take us to heaven? Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.”
Second Part of the Message: Chastisement of the Nations
“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go,” said Our Lady. “To save them, God wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. If what I say is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
Then Our Lady described the terrible things that would soon happen in the world because of sin:
“The war is going to end: but if they do not stop offending God, an even worse war will begin during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is a great sign God gives you 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.”
‘God wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. If what I say is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.’
“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 shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved, etc…”
Third Part of the Message: Martyrdom & Conversion
The third part of the secret is best left to Sister Lucia herself to tell:
“After the two parts which I have already explained,” writes Lucia, “at the left of Our Lady, and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand. Flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand.”
Pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’
“And we saw, in an immense light that is God, a bishop dressed in white – we had the impression it was the Holy Father – other bishops, priests, men and women religious, all of them climbing a steep mountain, at the top of which was a large rough Cross.”
“Before reaching this point (the cross), the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins. He trembled with a halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, praying for the souls of the corpses he met on his way. Having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the large cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him. And in the same way there died, one after another, the other bishops, priests, men and women religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.”
“Beneath the two arms of the Cross were two Angels, each with a crystal chalice in his hand, into which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it doused the people who were making their way to God.”
The Requests of Our Lady
When she appeared at Fatima in 1917, Our Lady said she would come to ask for the ‘Five First Saturdays devotion’. This she did on 10 December 1925, when she appeared to Sister Lucia saying: “I promise to assist at the moment of death with the graces necessary for salvation all who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, pray the Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the fifteen mysteries with the intention of offering me reparation.”
Our Lady also asked for people to pray and make sacrifices for sinners. She asked for conversion and the amendment of life. Finally, she asks for the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world, to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. At Fatima, she said “I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart.” And over ten years later, on the night of 13 June 1929, she appeared to Sister Lucia saying, “God is asking the Holy Father to consecrate Russia to my Immaculate Heart in union with all the bishops of the world. He promises to save it by this means.”
The Apparitions at Fatima
Our Lady appeared at Fatima six times to three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. The Apparitions took place between the 13th of May and the 13th of October, 1917.
First Apparition (13th May)
May 13 1917 was a beautiful Sunday in Portugal’s rugged Serra de Aire uplands. Sunshine bathed the olive groves. The fresh green of Springtime in the meadows and olive groves contrasted with the vivid red of poppy flowers. The happy voices of three children playing as they watched over their families’ flocks rang out in the clear air. Suddenly, there was a rumble of distant thunder. Instinctively, the three children gathered their sheep to move the flock to the shelter of a small cave further downhill.
Second Apparition (June 13th)
Flashes of light in the sky preceded the second apparition, just as the first. On this occasion, approximately fifty people accompanied the children. Although no one but the children saw Our Lady, others did notice unusual phenomena. The sun became dimmer during the apparition and stars were plainly visible even though it was midday. People noticed the holm oak tree sagged as if under an unseen weight during the time that Lucia spoke towards it.
Third Apparition (July 13th)
The father of Jacinta and Francisco noticed that when the third apparition began, a small grayish cloud hovered over the holm oak, the sunlight diminished, and a cool breeze blew over the mountain range, despite it being the height of summer.
Fourth Apparition (August 19th)
On 13 August, the day the fourth apparition was scheduled, the three children were unable to meet Our Lady at the Cova da Iria. They had been kidnapped by the mayor of Vila Nova de Ourém, who tried to force them to tell him the Secret. The children held firm, despite the mayor imprisoning them together with criminals and terrorising them with threats to plunge them in boiling oil.
Fifth Apparition (September 13th)
A crowd estimated at 20,000 observed atmospheric phenomena similar to those of the previous apparitions: the sudden cooling of the air, a dimming of the sun to the point where the stars could be seen, and a rain resembling iridescent petals or snowflakes that disappeared before touching the ground.
Sixth Apparition & The Miracle of the Sun (October 13th)
As on the other occasions, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta first saw a bright light and then they saw Our Lady over the holm oak.
“What does Your Grace wish of me?”
“I wish to tell you that I want a chapel built here in my honour. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes”
The Five First Saturdays Devotion
The Five First Saturdays devotion is one of the principal points of the Fatima message. It centres on the urgent need for mankind to offer reparation and expiate for the many injuries that the Immaculate Heart of Mary suffers from the hands of both impious and indifferent men.
In December of 1925, Our Lady appeared to Sister Lucia, giving her the following guarantee of salvation for those who complete the First Five Saturdays Devotion: “I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.”
Why Five Saturdays?
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offences and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
- Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception.
- Blasphemies against her virginity.
- Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men.
- Instilling indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children.
- Direct insults against Her sacred images.
How to Complete the Five First Saturdays Devotion
On the First Saturday of Five Consecutive Months:
- Go to confession.
- Receive Holy Communion.
- Say five decades of the Rosary.
- Keep Our Lady company for 15 minutes, meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.
History of the Devotion
During the third apparition on July 13, 1917, Our Lady revealed that she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and for the Communion of Reparation of the Five First Saturdays. Consequently, she asked for the devotion in 1925 and the consecration in 1929.
While staying at the House of the Dorothean Sisters in Pontevedra, Portugal, Sister Lucia received a vision on December 10, 1925 where the Blessed Mother appeared alongside a Boy who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Boy’s shoulder while she held in the other hand a heart pierced with thorns around it.
Sister Lucia heard the Boy say, “Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ingrate men pierce it at every moment with no one to make an act of reparation to pull them out.”
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words.
“See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.”
A few days afterward, Sister Lucia detailed this vision in a letter addressed to Monsignor Manuel Pereira Lopes, her confessor when she resided in the Asylum of Vilar in the city of Oporto, Portugal.
Modifications to the Five First Saturdays Devotion
The original request of Our Lady asks one to confess and receive Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays; to say five decades of the Rosary; to meditate during 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary for the purpose of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for the sins of men.
In subsequent private visions and apparitions however, Sister Lucia presented to Our Lord the difficulties that devotees encountered in fulfilling some conditions. With loving condescension and solicitude, Our Lord deigned to relax the rules to make this devotion more easy to observe:
Confession may be done on other days other than the First Saturdays so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to confession.
Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on all mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturday. One or several suffice.
With much latitude granted by Our Lord Himself, there is no reason for the faithful to hesitate or delay this pious practice in the spirit of reparation which the Immaculate Heart of Mary urgently asks.
This Devotion is Necessary in our Days
The culture of vice and sin remains unabated even as one reads this. Abortion, blasphemy, drug abuse, pornography, divorce and bad marriages, religious indifference, the advances of the homosexual agenda and others are just some of society’s many plagues that cut deeply into the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We must console Our Lady amidst all these insults and injuries to her and her Divine Son. She asks for reparation, she pleads for our prayers, she hopes for our amendment of life. Let us listen to her maternal pleas and atone for the ingratitude of men.
The First Five Saturdays devotion stimulates the spirit of reparation; it instils a tender love for the Holy Sacraments of Confession and the Blessed Eucharist. It nurtures a holy affection for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Rosary. Above all, it is an excellent means to maintain one in the state of grace while immersed in the daily spiritual battles and prosaic existence in the neo-pagan world in which we live.
Let us not delay in observing this devotion for it too gives us hope for eternal salvation.
The Angel of Fatima
The Angel of Portugal, also known as the Angel of Peace appeared to the three Fatima children in the summer of 1916, one year before the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The children were visited three times by the angel.
The first apparition of the angel took place in spring or summer of 1916, near Aljustrel, on the rock outcrop where the children frequently played known as the Cabeco.
Sister Lucia recalls: “We played for a while, when suddenly a strong wind shook the trees, which led us to wonder what was happening, because the day was sunny. Then we saw in the distance, above the trees east of us, a light whiter than snow, in the shape of a transparent young man, clearer than crystal in the sunshine. As he drew near, we were able to discern his character: a young man aged about 14 or 15 years, of amazing beauty.”
We were surprised and excited. We could not utter a word. He soon approached us, saying, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.’ And his knees bent until his forehead touched the ground. Inspired, we imitated the angel, and we began to repeat his words: ‘O my God, I believe, I adore you, I hope, and I love you. I beg pardon of Thee for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee.’
After repeating these words three times, the angel got up and said: ‘Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to your requests.’ Then he disappeared.
The atmosphere of the supernatural which enveloped us was so strong that for a long time we almost did not notice our own existence, but remained in the same position in which the angel left us, repeating over and over the same prayer.
God’s presence was so strong and so profound that it we could not even speak about it to each other. The next day, we still felt embraced by the presence, which began to disappear very slowly. We decided not to talk about it but keep it secret. This presence was so profound that it was not easy to say even a word about it. This appearance made more of an impression, probably because it was the first.
For the second time the angel appeared in the summer of 1916, near to Lucia’s home, by the well where the children were playing.
Lucia recalls the first startling words of the angel:
Angel: “What are you doing? Pray! Pray a lot! The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary want to show mercy through you. Offer prayers and mortification constantly to the Most High.”
Lucia: “How are we to mortify?”
Angel: “With everything you can, make a sacrifice to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and as supplication for the conversion of sinners. In this way, bring peace to your homeland. I’m the Guardian Angel of Portugal. Above all, humbly accept all the suffering, which God will send you.”
Lucia concludes saying, “And with this, he disappeared. These words of the angel impressed upon our souls like a light, which allowed us to understand who God is, how He loves us, and wishes to be loved by us. It allowed us also to understand the value of mortification, how it is pleasing to God and how He converts sinners by it.”
The third apparition of the angel took place in the early autumn of 1916, at the Cabeco. Sister Lucia describes the event:
“As soon as we came there [the Cabeco], we began to say the angel’s prayer on our knees with foreheads touching the ground: ‘Oh my God I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you etc…’ I do not remember how many times we had repeated this prayer when we saw a bright light on shining on us.
We straightened up to see what was happening and saw the angel holding a chalice in his left hand. He held a Host in his right hand, from which flowed drops of blood into the chalice. Leaving the chalice and Host suspended in the air, the angel knelt beside us and said the following prayer three times: ‘Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we worship Thee profoundly and offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and negligence with which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.’
Then rising, he took the Chalice and Host in his hands. He gave the Host to me, and he gave the contents of the chalice to Jacinta and Francisco to drink, while saying: ‘Receive the Body and drink the Blood of Jesus Christ who is terribly insulted by ungrateful men. Make reparation for the crimes of your people, and comfort your God.’
Once again he bowed low to the ground, repeating with us three times the same prayer: ‘Most Holy Trinity, etc’.
Then he disappeared. Inspired by the supernatural force which enveloped us, we imitated the angel, that is, prostrating ourselves as he did, and repeating the prayers he said.
The strength of God’s presence was so intense that it almost engulfed us. It seemed to deprive us the use of our bodily senses for a long time. During these days, we performed our physical actions as though sustained by that same supernatural force. We felt great peace and happiness in our inner souls, completely focused on God. Great physical weakness also overcame us.
I don’t know why, but the apparitions of Our Lady aroused in us very different effects. There was the same inner joy, the same calm, and same sense of happiness. But instead of physical weariness we felt a certain expansive liveliness. A sense of gladness instead of annihilation in God’s presence.
Instead of difficulty speaking, a kind of enthusiasm. But despite these feelings I felt inspired to remain silent, particularly about some things. During the investigations, I felt an inner inspiration that suggested to me the answers which, although true, would not disclose what I should keep secret.”
The Fatima Children
Both Jacinta and Francisco passed away shortly after the apparitions, as foretold by Our Lady. Lucia dos Santos joined the Sisters of Saint Dorothy at Tuy, Spain, and later became a Carmelite in Coimbra, Portugal. In 2005, Sister Lucia died in Coimbra Carmel and in the same year her cause for beatification was officially opened.
Saint Jacinta Marto
St. Jacinta Marto was born on 11 March 1910, at Aljustrel. Jacinta was a very busy and lively child. The apparitions aroused in her a deep pity for sinners, and compassion at the thought of what was awaiting them after death – the torments of hell. Therefore, she prayed incessantly for the conversion of sinners, as well as doing acts of penance for them. The Mother of God herself instructed Jacinta in piety during many apparitions to her. During the child’s final illness in a Lisbon hospital, Jacinta conversed with Our Lady about the great world events that were to occur around 1940.
On the day before her death she said: “Our Lady will appear again, but not to me. I will die, according to her prophecy.” And she died on the 20th of February 1920. She offered her great sufferings for the conversion of sinners, for peace in the world and for the Holy Father. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 13 May 2000 and canonised by Pope Francis on 13 May 2017.
Saint Francisco Marto
St. Francisco Marto was born on 11 June 1908, at Aljustrel. Unlike his younger sister Jacinta, he was quiet and reflective. He had deep faith and loved to contemplate. He was caring of others and capable of great sacrifices. In the home of the peasant Martos it was customary for the family to recite the Rosary daily. Piety imbued every aspect of their lives. Everyone worked hard, dawn to dusk. Children from an early age helped their parents with tilling the fields and grazing sheep. His whole life of penance he offered to comfort the Lord Jesus.
Blessed Francisco wanted to receive Holy Communion as soon as possible and to attain eternal joy in heaven. Shortly before his death he was allowed to receive Holy Communion. He died on the 4 April 1919 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 13 May 2000 in Fatima and canonised by Pope Francis on 13 May 2017. The body of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta are buried in the basilica of Fatima. Their feast is celebrated on February 20.
Sister Lucia dos Santos
Sister Lucia dos Santos was born on 22 March 1907 in Aljustrel. As a child she had an extraordinary piety and concern for the welfare of others. On 17 June 1921, four years after the apparitions, Lucia left her native village of Aljustrel for the college of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy in Vilar, on the outskirts of Porto. In 1925 she entered the Dorotheans as a postulant at the congregation’s convent in Tuy, Spain. On 3 October 1928 she took her first vows. Six years later, again on 3 October, she made her final vows, taking the religious name Sister Mary of Sorrows.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) she was transferred for safety to the college Sardao, in Vila Nova de Gaia, where she stayed for some time. Later, on 20 May 1946, Sister Lucia finally revisited again the places of the apparitions in Fatima, places that evoked so many memories in her heart.
On 25 March 1948, Sister Lucia joined the Carmel of St Joseph of Coimbra, taking the name Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart. On 13 May the same year she was clothed in the Carmelite habit and on 31 May 1949 she took her vows as a discalced Carmelite nun, assuming the name Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart.
She lived the rest of her long life in silence behind the walls of the Carmel in Coimbra, rarely making public appearances. However, her life was far from idle. She carried on an extraordinary volume of correspondence and was pen friend and advisor to many souls. Even so, she never spoke of the Fatima apparition unless her superiors expressly requested it.
She died on 13 February 2005 in the Carmel of Coimbra. Her cause for canonisation was opened on 13 February 2008.