By: Sr Mariella, OCD
Friday, October 13, 2017, is the 100th Anniversary of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, during which the Miracle of the Sun occurred. Prior to the apparitions of Our Lady, the Angel of Portugal appeared to the children and taught them to pray, and prepared them for our Blessed Mother’s apparitions without telling them she was coming.
May 13, 1917 was the first apparition of Our Lady to the children and she asked them to pray the rosary every day. She showed her Immaculate Heart to them on the 13th of June, letting them know that the thorns around Her Heart represent the sins of men that wound her heart. This is the first part of the secret she revealed to the children.
On July 13th, the other two parts of the secret were revealed: the vision of Hell, and the vision of the persecution and murder of the Holy Father. When the vision was to take place they did not know. The vision of hell was to make the children (and all mankind) understand that hell is real. Our Lady told the children that it is only through prayer and sacrifice that souls are kept out of hell. She also asked them to keep what she revealed on June 13 and July 13 secret until she told them to reveal it.
On August 13th, the children were abducted by the administrator of the province in which they lived. The government at that time was very anti-clerical and was afraid of what the secret might be, and insisted the children reveal what the secrets. They refused, even under the threat of imprisonment and death (they were threatened to be boiled in oil). The children were eventually released, and a few days later Our Lady appeared to them, promising a miracle in October so that all would believe that she was appearing to them. In September, she appeared briefly, and encouraged the children, again promising the miracle.
On October 12, the day before the apparition, a heavy rain began, which kept up through the following day, drenching the immense crowd that had gathered to witness the promised miracle. When Our Lady appeared, the rain stopped. She gave her name, Our Lady of the Rosary, and again reminded the children to pray the rosary every day. Then Lucia pointed to the sun. As Our Lady disappeared into sky, the sun began to dance, change colors, zig-zag, spin, plunge toward the earth, then fly back to its place, as the rain-soaked crowd found their clothing completely dry. The people were terrified, fearing the end of the world had come. As the sun resumed its normal place in the sky, the people realized they needed to reform their lives.
Then, three scenes followed in succession: first, St. Joseph appeared to one side of the sun, holding the Child Jesus as He blessed the people; second, Our Lady; third, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. With this, the visions concluded.
At least 70,000 people were present for this miracle, which is the only miracle of physical nature predicted to happen on a certain day at a certain time. But more importantly, Our Lady of Fatima’s message is a warning to us to amend our lives, to turn toward God, and only by praying the Rosary and penance can we gain peace on earth and bring souls to Heaven.