What is the Message of Fatima?
As Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us (Summa Theologicae, II-II, Q. 174, Art. 6.), in each age of the Church’s history God has sent a prophet to warn of danger to His people and to tell them what they must do to avoid that danger and save their souls. “Despise not prophecy,” St. Paul teaches us infallibly in Holy Scripture. Yes, Revelation was completed with the death of the last Apostle, but God continues to give warnings and corrections through His prophets in the Catholic Church. Ours is not the absent God of the Deists, but the living God, Jesus Christ, Who, as He Himself promised, will be with us always, even unto the consummation of the world.
God’s prophet for our age is no one other than the Virgin Mother of God, who has appeared again and again since the mid-19th Century in apparitions recognized as authentic by the Church to give us warning, correction and spiritual assistance. Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (1830), Our Lady of La Salette (1846), Our Lady of Lourdes (1858), and Our Lady of Knock (1879) all paved the way for the most dramatic of all Her appearances, just after the turn of the 20th Century and only weeks before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
Only a few years after Saint Pius X wrote of the growing apostasy in the world, heralding the advent of Antichrist, Our Lady appeared yet again at Fatima, Portugal, on the 13th day of each month from May to October in 1917. In the course of these apparitions, the Mother of God confided a Message for the Church and the world to three shepherd children: Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco, whom John Paul II beatified, and Sister Lucy, who departed this earth on February 13, 2005.
The most important part of the Message of Fatima was revealed by the Mother of God in Her apparition of July 13, 1917, when She confided what is called the Great Secret of Fatima. The Secret is divided into three parts. The first part was a terrifying vision of hell, in which the three children saw many souls suffering horrible torments. The second part, conveyed immediately after the vision of hell, contains the very words of the Virgin Herself as recorded by Sister Lucy in her diaries. We use here the translation published on the Vatican’s own website:
“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war [World War I] is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God 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. 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 her Fourth Memoir, Sister Lucy revealed that after uttering the second part of the Secret Our Lady made this mysterious reference to the nation of Portugal: “In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved etc.” Fatima scholars were unanimous in concluding that these words are the beginning of the third part of the Great Secret, known as the Third Secret of Fatima, and that the Third Secret predicts a crisis of faith and discipline in the Church outside of Portugal. Sister Lucy advised her superiors that Our Lady wished the Third Secret to be revealed to the world by no later than 1960, because, she explained, its meaning “will be clearer (mais claro)” by then.
As the words of Our Lady quoted above reveal, the second part of the Message of Fatima contains both a glorious promise and a dire warning:
“If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
“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.”
The Mother of God could not have been clearer: souls will be lost and various nations will be annihilated if Her requests are not granted. And what were Her requests? First, Our Lady promised She would come to ask for the collegial Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart in a solemn public ceremony conducted by the Pope and the Catholic bishops of the world.
Second, Our Lady also promised that She would come to request “the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays,” which has become known in the Church as the Five First Saturdays devotion.
In addition to these two requests, Our Lady made these other urgent requests during the Fatima apparitions, all related to the “Great Secret” confided on July 13, 1917:
- That the faithful “amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended.”
- That we wear the Brown Scapular—the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Sister Lucy said that “the Rosary and the Scapular are inseparable.”
- That we do penance by making sacrifices required by our daily duties.
Our Lady was especially persistent in requesting that we pray the Rosary. During Her apparition on October 13, 1917—the very day of the Miracle of the Sun (which we will discuss in the next chapter)—She declared: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” Each and every time Our Lady appeared, She insisted on the praying of the Rosary by all the members of the Church. At Fatima, Our Lady made it clear that the Rosary is to be our principal spiritual weapon in this age of apostasy, confusion and spreading evil.
Finally, the Message of Fatima includes seven prayers that God has ordained as additions to the devotional life of Catholics. During the course of the apparitions at Fatima, the three child seers were taught five unique and powerful prayers: two by the Angel of Peace and three by the Mother of God. Later, speaking to Sister Lucy at Rianjo, Spain, Our Lord Himself dictated two further prayers. For millions of people, these prayers embody the Message of hope and peace which Our Lady gave the world at Fatima. Here are the prayers:
I.My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!
II.[When making a sacrifice for sinners, pray as follows]: O my Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer this sacrifice to You.
III.O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.
IV.O Most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!
V.Sweet Heart of Mary, be the salvation of Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe and the whole world.
VI.By Your pure and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, obtain for me the conversion of Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe and the entire world.
VII.Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Son Jesus Christ, present in the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the sacrileges, outrages and indifferences by which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.
This, then, is the substance of the Message of Fatima: the collegial Consecration of Russia, the Five First Saturdays devotion, the offering of penance in reparation for our sins and those of others, the wearing of the Brown Scapular, the praying of the Rosary, and the seven Fatima prayers. By these means souls will be saved, peace will be granted to the world, and the annihilation of nations will be avoided.Continue Reading