Portugal – May 13 marks 100 years since the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Fatima. The three children who saw Our Lady at the Cova da Iria were Lúcia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The Virgin visited the three children six times, appearing on the 13th of each month from May to October of 1917. Before Our Lady appeared to the children, an angel of peace visited them to prepare their hearts for conversations with Our Lady.
Lucia, one of the visionaries, would later describe the Marian apparitions as “more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.”
The messages given by Our Lady at Fatima contained truths about the Rosary, penances for the conversion of sinners, and the Holy Eucharist. During the Blessed Mother’s appearances, the children reported many prophecies. These included that prayer would end World War I, and that Our Lady would grant a miracle in October, 1917.
The visions concluded with the public Miracle of the Sun – where, after the rain, the sun appeared to be spinning in the sky. Witnesses later stated that their soaking clothes were “suddenly and completely dry, as well as the wet and muddy ground that had been previously soaked because of the rain that had been falling.”
Our Lady also gave three secrets to the children at Fatima. Sister Lucia revealed two of the three secrets of Fatima in her memoirs, published in the 1930s. These secrets included the vision of hell that the children saw, a prophesy that World War I would end, and a desire of the Blessed Mother that Russia should be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The third secret was revealed in 2000. This secret discussed the coming persecution of Christians.
The Catholic Church officially declared the visions at Fatima “worthy of belief” in 1930 after a canonical inquiry conducted by the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima. Although the apparitions are declared worthy, Catholics are not required to believe in private revelations.
Fatima is one of only three Marian apparitions that has a feast day in the Catholic Church calendar. Others include the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Lourdes.
Over five million pilgrims journey to Fatima each year. Pope Francis is among them this year, who will be in Fatima to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the apparition. While there he will also canonize Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Pope Francis is the fourth pope to visit Fatima. He was preceded by Blessed Paul VI, Saint Pope John Paul II and Father Benedict, who all also visited on May 13th, the anniversary of the apparition.
In a video released on May 10, Pope Francis encouraged the Portuguese to join him on his pilgrimage to Fatima, saying: “I want to meet everyone at the feet of the Virgin Mother.”