Our Lady of Fatima: A call to conversion and repentance

May 28, 2013

On May 13, at Pope Francis’ personal request, José Cardinal Polycarpo, the patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal, consecrated the pontificate of Pope Francis to Our Lady of Fatima. And he is not the first pope to believe and trust in the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, during his trip to the Fatima shrine in 2010 said, “I bring with me the worries and hopes of our times, the sufferings of our wounded humanity and the problems of the world, and I place them at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima.”

Blessed John Paul II, who survived the attempt on his life in 1981, believed it was Our Lady of Fatima who saved his life by diverting the bullet that day. John Paul traveled there three times as pope.

The story of Fatima begins in 1916, when a resplendent figure appeared to three children, Lucia, 9, and her cousin Francisco, 8, and his sister Jacinta, 6, who were in the field tending the family sheep. 

“I am the Angel of Peace,” said the figure, who appeared to them two more times that year exhorting them to accept the sufferings that the Lord allowed them to undergo as an act of reparation for the sins which offend Him, and to pray constantly for the conversion of sinners.

Then, on the 13th day of the month of Our Lady, May 1917, an apparition of “a woman all in white, more brilliant than the sun” presented itself to the three children saying, “Please don’t be afraid of me, I’m not going to harm you.” Lucia asked her where she came from and she responded, “I come from Heaven.” 

The woman wore a white mantle edged with gold and held a rosary in her hand. 

The woman asked them to pray and devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and to “say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”

In all, she appeared six times to the children between May 13, 1917, and Oct. 13, 1917.

In the last apparition, the woman revealed her name in response to Lucia’s question, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”

That same day, 70,000 people had turned out to witness the apparition, following a promise by the woman that she would show the people that the apparitions were true. 

They saw the sun make three circles and move around the sky in an incredible zigzag movement in a manner which left no doubt in their minds about the veracity of the apparitions. 

After a lengthy diocesan inquiry, a declaration of the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, in whose diocese these apparitions occurred, approved the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima in 1930.

What is the central meaning of the message of Fatima? Nothing different from what the Church has always taught. 

It is, as Blessed John Paul II said, “a call to conversion and repentance, the nucleus of the message of the Gospel.”

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, added, “the Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Savior into the world — because, thanks to her, Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time.”