Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Visions of Fatima Continue to Intrigue Us to This Day

I expect a large audience on Friday and Saturday when NET-TV broadcasts live coverage of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to Fatima. I say that because there is such great interest in the events that happened in that Portuguese city 100 years ago this weekend.

The pope’s visit coincides with the centennial of the appearance of the Blessed Mother to three shepherd children who were tending their sheep at Fatima. It also will be the occasion to canonize as saints two of the three visionaries of Fatima.

Francisco and Jacinta Marto, brother and sister, who died not long after the apparitions, will be declared saints of the Church at the liturgy offered at the shrine in Fatima. Their cousin, Lucia Abobora dos Santos will be a saint someday but since she lived a long life and only died in 2005, her cause for sainthood is only in its initial stages.

The great interest of so many people in Fatima comes from the fact that they have grown up in a church culture. They were taught about the visions in school. They were intrigued by the Three ‘Secrets’ of Fatima. They saw “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” on the movie screens.

Who didn’t see the film? Classes were marched to see the movie in neighborhood theaters when it was released in 1951. This was a time before there were no class outings. So, to be taken out of school to go to the movies was an event that leaves an impression even to this day.

The Warner Brothers film – and yes, it was in color – told the story of the anti-clerical government in Portugal that tried to get the children to deny that they had been visited by a lovely lady in a supernatural vision in the fields.

Despite being questioned and thrown into jail, the children refuse to recant and stick to their story that the lady appeared to them and promised to continue to return there on the 13th of each month.

The visions continue for the next six months and during that time the lady predicts the end of World War I, asks for prayers for the conversion of Russia, and describes an attack upon the Church that has been interpreted to be a foreshadowing of the assassination attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II.

The movie is most remembered for its depiction of the miracle of the sun when thousands of people who accompanied the children to the final appearance witnessed the end of a tumultuous downpour and “dancing” sun that appeared to fall from the sky only to recede back to the heavens.

The visions of Fatima are best described as personal revelations and the Church has deemed them worthy of belief, although they are not doctrines of the faith that must be adhered to. Millions of pilgrims continue to flock to the town of Fatima where a popular shrine and basilica have been erected. Later this year, Bishop DiMarzio will lead a pilgrimage from the Diocese of Brooklyn to Fatima as well as to Lourdes. Details can be found on the TabletTalk page.

Whether you plan to go to Fatima or perhaps you’ve already been there, you’re probably very familiar with the story. So, I’m hoping when Currents anchor Liz Faublas and I are at the anchor desk this weekend, we’ll be talking directly to you.

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