The five unique aspects of Fatima by Timothy Tindal-Robertson
The message revealed by the Blessed Virgin at Fatima is distinct from all other Marian apparitions by virtue of the following five aspects which it alone possesses.
1). Continuing Association with the Papacy
The most important feature of the apparitions is that Our Lady came to Fatima in direct response to an urgent appeal to heaven from Pope Benedict XV. Thereby, as I have shown in my CTS booklet, Message of Fatima in the Life of the Church and Teaching of the Popes, 1917-1997, her intervention began an association with the papacy which has steadily increased in the reigns of succeeding popes.
But the most significant advances of all in the papal acceptance of Our Lady’s message have taken place in the present pontificate, culminating in the Holy Year 2000, when Fatima attained its highest ever papal recognition through three unprecedented initiatives of the Holy Father, as I have recounted in detail in my CTS booklet, Fatima in the Third Millennium, issued in 2001.
Firstly, on 13th May 2000 Pope John Paul II travelled to Fatima to beatify two of the three little shepherds chosen to receive Our Lady’s message, Francisco and Jacinta; secondly, at his direction the text of the third part of the secret was released by Cardinal Ratzinger, together with his Theological Commentary, on 26th June; and finally, on 8th October John Paul II made his unprecedented Act of Entrustment of the Third Millennium to Mary Most Holy, in the presence of the well known statue of Our Lady, which at his request had been specially brought to St Peter’s from the Sanctuary of Fatima.
Has the Mother of God ever made such a touching intervention, in direct response to an urgent plea from the Chief Shepherd of all the faithful, at a dire moment in 1917 when the raging inferno of the First World War had descended to new depths of horror, with the prolonged rain and the introduction of deadly gas weapons ? Having been rebuffed in all his attempts to negotiate peace, Pope Benedict XV sent out a pastoral letter to the whole Catholic world, dated 5th May 1917, in which he urged all to pray fervently to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for peace, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Mother of mercy and omnipotent by grace”. At the same time the Pope directed that the invocation “Queen of Peace, pray for us” should be added to the Litany of Loreto.
Eight days later, the Blessed Virgin appeared to the three shepherd children at Fatima, and the last words in her first apparition constitute a direct response to the urgent plea of Benedict XV:
“Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war”.
Providentially, at the very moment the Blessed Virgin was appearing at Fatima, the future Pope Pius XII was being consecrated Bishop. He became known as “the Pope of Fatima” because he was the first pope to consecrate the whole human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on 31st October 1942.
The unique nature of the papal association with Fatima is commemorated in the painting which hangs above the high altar in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima, in which are depicted the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, and Popes Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI.
2). Fatima mentioned three times in the Second Vatican Council
As a private revelation which one is not obliged to believe, but which is highly commended, Fatima is unique in being mentioned three times by Pope Paul VI in the Second Vatican Council. The Pope addressed the Council Fathers on 21 November 1964, at the end of the third session, when the Council approved the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, whose final chapter 8 is entitled “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and the Church”.
In his address, Paul VI considered it “particularly opportune” to recall Pius XII’s consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; bearing that in mind, he announced that he was sending a special mission to carry the Golden Rose to Fatima; and he ended by proclaiming, “to your Immaculate Heart, O Mary, we finally commend the entire human race” (cf. Message of Fatima, p. 59).
3). Fatima the richest ever supernatural manifestation of Our Lady
In a message to all the world’s priests on 13 May 1963, Cardinal Larraona, speaking as Pope John XXIII’s legate at Fatima, declared that Our Lady’s message contains “inexhaustible treasures and spiritual riches … Fatima is a living realisation of the Gospel ... indeed, never has there been a supernatural manifestation of Our Lady of such rich spiritual content as that of Fatima, nor has any recognised apparition given us a message so clear, so maternal, so profound”.
Pope John Paul II said that the Church has accepted the message of Fatima because it contains the “truth and call of the Gospel itself: ‘repent and believe in the Gospel’ (Mk 1:15) ... 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” (Homily at Fatima, 13 May 1982). It is “the true Gospel of Christ, presented anew to our generation” (General Audience, 17 May 2000).
4). Parallel papal consecrations, to the Sacred Heart (1899,) and the Immaculate Heart (1984)
The Blessed Virgin’s request for the Pope to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, in a certain way parallels Our Lord’s request in June 1897, to Sister Mary of the Divine Heart (the Countess Droste zu Vischering), in which Jesus asked the Pope to consecrate the world to His Sacred Heart. Pope Leo XIII said this act, which he carried out on 11 June 1899, was “the greatest act of my pontificate”.
John Paul II fulfilled Our Lady’s request, when he consecrated the world including Russia to her Immaculate Heart at St. Peter’s, Rome on 25th March 1984, in the presence of the venerated statue from Fatima. On 17 November 2001, Sister Lucia confirmed to Archbishop Bertone that this act “was accepted in heaven”. As a result of Our Lady’s intervention, the dire persecution ceased which the Church had suffered from Marxist atheist persecution in Central and Eastern Europe (see my book Fatima, Russia & John Paul II), and those countries are experiencing the resurrection of the Church.
5). Fatima a unique prophetic warning of and spiritual remedy for current evils
Finally, the message of Fatima is unique in containing a prophecy which constituted a warning of as well as a specific spiritual remedy for the most grave evils to have afflicted the 20th century, namely: the two World Wars, and the spirit of the rejection and denial of God (the “errors of Russia”). These errors continue to threaten the Church, especially in the once-Christian West, through secularism, materialism, and the increasingly grave violations of the sanctity of human life and the family. The extent of the problem is such that “today as never before, humanity stands at a crossroads”, the Pope stated, in his Act of Entrustment of October 2000, and European culture “gives the impression of silent apostasy” in which people have everything and “live as if God does not exist” (Ecclesia in Europa, 9).
It is “because its message announces many of the later events and conditions them on the response to its appeals” that Fatima “is certainly one of the greatest .. signs of the times”, the Pope wrote to the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima on 1 October 1997. “Private revelations approved by the Church … help us understand the signs of the times and to respond to them rightly in faith”, Cardinal Ratzinger explained in his Theological Commentary issued on 26th June 2000.
By his teaching and acts, John Paul II has lived Our Lady’s message. Heaven is now awaiting the response of all people of good to follow the Pope’s example, and evangelise themselves and their communities through prayer, penance, offering up the sacrifices encountered in fulfilling one’s daily duties, amendment of life, daily recitation of the Rosary (according to the sublime teaching in John Paul II’s Rosarium Virginis Mariae of 16 Oct. 2002), and the Five First Saturdays Eucharistic communion of reparation for sin. The Blessed Virgin promised that “in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph … and a period of peace will be granted to the world … if my requests are heeded”.
As the Pope said, on returning to Rome after beatifying Francisco and Jacinta at Fatima on 13 May 2000, “let us receive the light that comes from Fatima, let us be guided by Mary. May her Immaculate Heart be our refuge and the way that leads us to Christ”.
Francisco and Jacinta, two young shepherd children who were chosen by heaven to receive, live and convey the message of Fatima to the Church, responded to Our Lady’s requests with such fidelity and commitment that John Paul II has declared them Blessed in heaven. May Mary’s Immaculate Heart obtain for us the grace to respond, “Yes, we are willing”, just as they did. He ended this Apostolic Exhortation with a special prayer entrusting the Church in Europe to Mary.
© Timothy Tindal-Robertson, September 2003
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The author, Timothy Tindal-Robertson, an international authority on Fatima, can be contacted to discuss any aspect of this subject at: