Approvals by the
In 1917, as the First World
War was being fought across Europe and showing no signs of concluding
peacefully, Pope Benedict XV turned in petition to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
through Whom all graces are dispensed. The Pope urgently asked all of the
Christian people to beg the Virgin Mary to obtain the peace of the world, and
to solemnly entrust the task to Her alone.
He wished the world to "have
recourse to the Heart of Jesus, throne of graces, and to this throne to have
recourse through the intermediary of Mary", and he ordered that the invocation
Queen of Peace, pray for us be permanently added to the Litany of
Loreto. Then, confidently placing the peace of the world in Her hands, the Pope
made another appeal:
To Mary, then, who is the Mother of Mercy and omnipotent by grace, let
loving and devout appeal go up from every corner of the earth from noble
temples and tiniest chapels, from royal palaces and mansions of the rich as
from the poorest hut from blood-drenched plains and seas. Let it bear to
Her the anguished cry of mothers and wives, the wailing of innocent little
ones, the sighs of every generous heart: that Her most tender and benign
solicitude may be moved and the peace we ask for be obtained for our agitated
The gracious Virgin responded
quickly to the urgent pleas of the Pope: only eight days later She appeared at
Fatima and gave to the Pope and humanity a plan for peace. However, this plan
first required the obedience of the people and especially of Christs
Vicar on earth, the Pope. God and the Blessed Virgin agreed to give the world
peace, but since it was the Pope who asked to be shown the way to peace, his
cooperation in the designs of Heaven became requisite.
Thus, from the beginning the
Holy Father has had a specific role in the Message of Fatima: because of his
insistence God sent His holy Mother to Fatima; and when the Pope fulfills
Gods demands, the Blessed Virgin will bring peace to the world.
Therefore, because their role in the Fatima Message is so primary, let us
examine how the Popes have approved of and promoted Fatima.
Firstly, Pope Benedict XV
re-established the ancient diocese of Leiria on January 17, 1918, and in an
April 29, 1918 letter to the Portuguese bishops, he referred to the occurrences
at Fatima as "an extraordinary aid from the Mother of God." In 1929, at an
audience of the Portuguese Seminary in Rome, Pope Benedicts successor,
Pius XI, personally offered each seminarian two pictures of Our Lady of the
Rosary of Fatima. Pope Pius also wished to read all the results of the
Canonical Process of Fatima so that he would be personally acquainted with Our
On October 1, 1930 the
Sacred Penitentiary under Pius XI granted a partial indulgence to those
who individually visited the Shrine and prayed for the intentions of the Holy
Father, and a plenary indulgence once a month to those who went there in a
group. These indulgences granted in Rome came just in time to prepare minds to
receive with entire confidence the soon-to-be-announced Episcopal approval,
which the Holy See had thus discreetly supported.
With the knowledge and
consent of Pope Pius XI, on October 13, 1930 Bishop da Silva of Leiria (the
diocese in which Fatima is contained) announced the results of the official
inquiry of Fatima in a pastoral letter on the apparitions. This official
approval contained these important paragraphs:
In virtue of considerations made known, and others which for reason of
brevity we omit; humbly invoking the Divine Spirit and placing ourselves under
the protection of the most Holy Virgin, and after hearing the opinions of our
Rev. Advisors in this diocese, we hereby:
- Declare worthy of belief, the visions of the shepherd children in
the Cova da Iria, parish of Fatima, in this diocese, from the 13th
May to 13th October, 1917.
- Permit officially the cult of Our Lady of Fatima.
Pope Pius XII, whose
Episcopal consecration took place on May 13, 1917, the date of Our Ladys
first apparition at Fatima, did many things to help encourage devotion to Our
Lady of Fatima. He was known as "the Pope of Fatima". He said, "The time for
doubting Fatima has passed, the time for action is now." When the Pilgrim
Virgin statue was touring Italy, and miracles were being worked wherever it
went, Pius XII stated in amazement: "We can hardly believe our eyes."
In 1940, Pope Pius XII spoke
of Fatima for the first time in an official Papal text, his encyclical
Saeculo exeunte, which was written to encourage the Church in Portugal
to further its foreign missionary activity. In the text he stated: "Let the
faithful not forget, especially when they recite the Rosary, so recommended by
the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima, to ask the Virgin Mother of God to obtain
missionary vocations, with abundant fruits for the greatest possible number of
He then concluded the
encyclical with, "Without any doubt God in His goodness will pour out His
abundant blessings on these generous enterprises and on the most noble
Portuguese nation. The Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of the Rosary venerated at
Fatima, the Holy Mother of God who brought victory at Lepanto, will assist you
with Her most powerful assistance. ..." Also in 1940, the Holy Father granted
the new diocese of Nampula, in Mozambique, Our Lady of Fatima as its Patroness.
In October of 1942, in
response to a message given to him by Sister Lucy in 1940, Pope Pius XII
consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with a special mention
of Russia. In early 1943, Sister Lucy explained that the Lord told her that He
would accept this Act of Consecration to help speed the end of the World War
II, but that it will not obtain worldwide peace. As predicted, this act
obtained the end of the war, but did not usher in the reign of peace Our Lady
promised, as it was not a consecration of specifically Russia, and the
worlds bishops did not participate in it.
On May 4, 1944, the Holy See
instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In 1946 His Eminence Cardinal
Masella, acting as the personal Legate of the Holy Father, crowned Our Lady of
Fatima, "Queen of the World." The entire Portuguese episcopate and over 600,000
pilgrims gathered at Fatima for the event.
In 1950 Pope Pius XII even
said to the Master General of the Dominicans: "Tell your religious that the
Popes thinking is contained in the Message of Fatima."
On October 13, 1951 the
Popes Legate, Cardinal Tedeschini, was sent to Fatima for the closing of
the Holy Year. He told the crowd that Pope Pius XII had himself seen, repeated
in Rome, the Miracle of the Sun that had occurred at the last Fatima
apparition. It is clear that the Holy Father chose Fatima for this major event,
to bring attention to the Message of Our Lady of Fatima. The Holy Father had,
in fact, been graced to see the Miracle of the Sun on four separate occasions
the previous year: October 30 and 31, November 1 (the day Pius XII solemnly
defined the dogma of the Assumption), and November 8 (the octave of the same
On July 7,1952 Pope Pius XII,
in response to the petitions of the Russian Catholics, consecrated Russia and
her people to the Immaculate Heart. Unfortunately, the petitioners were unaware
that the Holy Father had to do the Consecration in union with the bishops of
the world. Thus, Pius XII did the Consecration in a private ceremony, without
inviting the worlds bishops to join him, as Our Lady requested.
On October 11, 1954 His
Holiness issued an encyclical on the Queenship of Mary, and in it he referred
to Her miraculous image at Fatima. Two years later the Church that stands on
the apparition site at Fatima was elevated to the rank of Basilica.
In 1964, during the Second
Vatican Council, at the solemn closing ceremonies at the end of the third
session, before all the Catholic bishops of the world, Pope Paul VI renewed
Pius XIIs consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He
also announced that a special envoy was to be sent to Fatima. In the
Popes name the Papal Legate would carry, as a symbolic gift, a Golden
Rose to the Fatima Shrine. The inscription on it would say that Pope Paul was
entrusting the entire Church to the care of Our Lady of Fatima. Then, in fact,
on May 13, 1965, through his Papal Legate, as he had announced at the Second
Vatican Council, Pope Paul presented the Golden Rose at Fatima, commending the
whole Church to Our Lady of Fatimas care.
On May 13, 1967, on the
fiftieth anniversary of the first Fatima apparition, the Holy Father went on a
pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. He wrote an encyclical on the
occasion of his pilgrimage. While there, he also blessed seventy National
Pilgrim Virgin statues, to travel continually so that many nations would
remember and practice the Message of Fatima.
Before his election to the
Papacy, Pope John Paul I exhibited a particular devotion to Our Lady of Fatima,
and as Cardinal Patriarch of Venice he led a pilgrimage there. It was during
this trip that he met with Sister Lucy, and was very struck by the meeting.
Pope John Paul II has many
times exhibited his approval of Fatima. He has visited Fatima three times
in 1982, 1991 and 2000. During his 2000 visit he beatified the two
deceased seers, Jacinta and Francisco. He has also made the Feast day of Our
Lady of Fatima universal by ordering it to be included in the Roman Missal.
During his homily at Mass in
Fatima on May 13, 1982, Pope John Paul II said, "The appeal of the Lady of the
Message of Fatima is so deeply rooted in the Gospel and the whole of Tradition
that the Church feels that the Message imposes a commitment on Her." He also
said, "The Message is addressed to every human being.
Because of the
continuing increase of sin and the dangers, such as nuclear war, now
threatening humanity, the Message of Fatima is more urgent and relevant in our
time than it was when Our Lady appeared 65 years ago."
He also stated, "Today John
Paul II, successor of St. Peter, presents himself before the Mother of the Son
of God in Her shrine at Fatima. In what way does he come? He presents himself
reading again with trepidation the motherly call to penance, to conversion, the
ardent appeal of the Heart of Mary that resounded at Fatima 65 years ago. Yes
he reads it again with trepidation in his heart because he sees how many people
and societies how many Christians have gone in the opposite
direction to the one indicated in the Message of Fatima. Sin has thus made
itself firmly at home in the world, and denial of God has become widespread in
the ideologies, ideas and plans of human beings."
Thus, from the above
examples, we can see that in addition to its official approval in 1930, the
Popes have approved of Fatima in many decisive ways.
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