Portuguese office in Fatima
A Report on the Activities of the
In 1992, the International Fatima Rosary Crusade (IFRC) held its first International Bishops Conference in Portugal, but as a result, among other things, of a violent assault against Father Gruner, and threats against his life, the Portuguese arm of Our Lady’s Apostolate was closed down and ceased operation for six years. It wasn’t until 1998 that the IFRC finally sent two representatives back to Fatima to reestablish its presence there, starting again from square one. Little by little the full Fatima Message has returned to Fatima.
In the spring of 2000, color portraits of Our Lady of Fatima petitions respectfully requesting the Holy Father to consecrate Russia, written in both Portuguese and English, were printed in Portugal, made possible by the generous donations of thousands of Apostolate supporters in North America. These beautiful fliers, suitable for framing, were personally handed out to Fatima pilgrims by two consecutive waves of North American volunteers, as well as by local Portuguese supporters who, day in and day out, from May to October, zealously gave it to multitudes of visiting pilgrims.
It took a time-intensive effort and prayerful determination to withstand ignorant and sometimes bitter criticism by misinformed pilgrims and locals, nevertheless over the course of six months, 1,004,000 fliers were circulated in Fatima. Responses filled our Fatima PO Box every day from all over the world from pilgrims who brought quantities back to their families, friends, and parishes, in places as diverse as South America, North America, Eastern Europe, Africa, and, of course, all the provinces of Portugal itself. Every Portuguese household who responded to the flier was also included in a follow-up mailout that went out in October from the Fatima office.
The International Fatima Rosary Crusade (IFRC) extended its outreach considerably this year by having material printed in Portuguese to spread the full Fatima Message, and widen the boundaries of Christendom. In the autumn of 2000, a Portuguese translation team was formed and a whole new series of pamphlets, articles, and the 32-page booklet The Magnificent Promise of the Five First Saturdays by Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité were translated. The original texts of Sister Lucy, as published by Fatima scholars Father Joaquin Alonso and Father António Maria Martins, whose books are now out of print and can only he found in some of the best libraries in Portugal or in private collections — were utilized.
It is truly amazing to learn how suppressed the salvific words of the Mother of God have become, even in the very heart of the country She loved enough to honor with Her greatest public miracles and which traditionally bears the name Terra de Santa Maria (the Land of Holy Mary).
It was also disturbing to learn that Brown Scapulars are almost non-existent in the religious article shops of Fatima, as well as Miraculous Medals with the inscription written in Portuguese. Scandalous is the only word for the way that many women, both young and old, dress when visiting the Sanctuary in the summer. To try to address these problems it was decided to translate the pamphlets: The Marylike Standards for Modesty in Dress; Attach Great Importance to your Scapular; and The Miraculous Medal.
The Cova da Iria, one of the holiest places in Europe, sanctified 83 years ago by the presence and words of the Mother of God, has long since been dominated by forces whose priority seems rather to suppress Our Lady’s full Message than to encourage it. The Shrine priests do not often preach the devotion of the Five First Saturdays and they tell pilgrims the Consecration of Russia is done and Russia now converted, having enshrined a piece of the Berlin Wall at one of the principal entrances to the Sanctuary, a favorite spot for distribution of the fliers by Our Lady’s workers who were a healthy contradiction to this farcical monument. Our Lady’s workers were sometimes harassed by the Shrine guards who even dared to confiscate fliers and disrespectfully destroyed them.
The Portuguese, generally speaking, still retain a great affection for Our Lady of Fatima and visit the Sanctuary in large numbers throughout the season. We hope this missionary effort will help a little to give the Portuguese vital information about the Consecration of Russia which has been hidden from them in this, Our Lady’s nation of predilection. Nossa Senhora do Rosario de Fatima rogai por nós.