Our Lady of Fatima
The Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima is the title given to series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three children in Fatima, Portugal: Lucia dos Santos, aged 10, and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francesco Marto, ages 7 and 9 respectively. We celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13. After first being visited by an angel on three occasions, Mary appeared to the children on May 13, 1917. She appeared to them monthly through October 13 of that year, the final apparition to the three children of Fatima together; Lucia would witness another apparition in 1921 and 1925.
Through the children, Mary requested frequent recitation of the Rosary, penance, increased devotion to her Immaculate Heart, prayers for the conversion of Russia, and the building of a church in her honor. During her final visit to all three children in October, 1917, Mary identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary and fulfilled her promise of a miracle – the appearance of the sun “spinning” – which was witnessed by 50,000 people.
Francesco died in 1919, and Jacinta died in 1920. Lucia, who eventually became a Carmelite nun, lived until 2005. Devotion to Our Lady of Fatima was authorized by Pope Pius XI in 1930 and still today the Marian shrine at Fatima is amongst the most famous in the world. Fatima became especially prominent in the public eye during the papacy of Pope John Paul II. An attempt on his life was made in 1981, on May 13, the anniversary of the first apparition. The pope attributed his survival to a direct intervention by Our Lady of Fatima. In 1984, Pope John Paul II formally consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 2000, Pope John Paul II beatified Jacinta and Francesco; in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI announced he would waive the typical 5-year waiting period to begin Lucia’s beatification process.
- Adapted from The Encyclopedia of Mary