Fatima July 1917, by Donal Anthony Foley
The third Fatima Apparition, which took place on 13 July 1917, is the one at which Our Lady showed the children the vision of hell, called for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, and also spoke about the way Russia would spread its errors throughout the world unless her words were heeded. Thus in terms of what was said, it is the most important of all the apparitions.
On that day, the three children went to the Cova to be met by a large crowd of between two and three thousand people. Once more the seers saw Our Lady over the holmoak in all her beauty. Lucia asked what she wanted, to which the Blessed Virgin replied: “I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.” In response to Lucia’s requests that she should say who she was, and for a miracle, so that everyone would believe, Our Lady said: “Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.”
So three months ahead of time, Mary told the children that a great miracle would take place, and this soon after became public knowledge. This announcement of a miracle so far in advance is another indication of the importance of Fatima, since there is nothing comparable to this in 2,000 years of Church history. In addition, it is surely vastly important to realize that according to Our Lady’s own words, peace will come to the world only through people being devoted to her, and praying the rosary, and that there is no other way that this can happen “only she can help you.”
Lucia also made some requests for sick people, to which Mary replied that she would cure some but not others, and that all must say the rosary to obtain such graces, before continuing: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O 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.” At this point, Mary opened her hands and rays of light from them seemed to penetrate the earth, so that the children saw, in Lucia’s words:
“... as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.”
This vision of hell was the first part of the secret of Fatima, and although it only lasted a moment, that moment was enough to completely change the seers’ lives, especially that of Jacinta. As Sr Lucia recounts in her Third Memoir, it “made a very strong impression on her … [and] filled her with horror to such a degree, that every penance and mortification was as nothing in her eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there.”
After this vision Our Lady said:
“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 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 will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
At this point, the second part of the secret of Fatima ends and the third part begins with the words, “In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved ...” The first two parts of the secret became publicly known in the 1940s, while the third part, which mainly deals with the sufferings of the Popes and the Church during the twentieth century, was only divulged in May 2000.
There is so much contained in the above statement from Our Lady that a book would be needed to fully explain it all, but what does come over strongly is the vital necessity of genuine devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in the world if there is ultimately to be peace. The other thing is the joint importance of the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. The consecration was done by Pope John Paul II in 1984, in union with a moral totality of the world’s bishops, but the crucial importance of the Five First Saturdays devotion has yet to be fully realized by the Church as a whole.
The Blessed Virgin told Lucia that no one, apart from Francisco, should be told about the secret, and then continued: “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.” Then Lucia asked if there was anything else, and after being assured that there was nothing more, Our Lady returned to heaven.
Maybe we could all make a resolution to encourage as many people as possible to make the Five First Saturdays devotion (details at: www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/firstsat/firstsat.html), and particularly to try and interest our parish priest in starting it locally. And likewise, we could resolve to encourage our friends and family to say the rosary daily, knowing that by these means we will be helping to bring about world peace.
This article appeared initially in the Wanderer.