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Our Lady of Fatima's Message

Updated: May 17

War or Peace?

The century that saw two horrific world wars and the spread of the demonic philosophy of Karl Marx also saw one of the most celebrated apparitions of the Mother of Jesus.

In 1917, on the 13th of May — the month of Our Lady — the Blessed Mother made the first of Her six visits to three children in Portugal. She appeared to Lucía dos Santos, age 9, and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, ages 8 and 6, respectively, while they were tending sheep in a field outside the town of Fatima, which is situated at the outer western edge of the country.

According to the children's testimony, the Lady appeared "all in white, more brilliant than the sun" above a holm oak tree. Her face was "indescribably beautiful" and "neither sad nor happy, but serious," with "an air of mild reproach."

Her hands were joined together at her breast, pointing upward as if she were praying. A Rosary hung from her right hand.

Lucía, the oldest, asked the Lady where she was from and what she wanted.

"I come from Heaven," she said. "I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the thirteenth day of each month at this same time. I will tell you who I am and what I want."

As she disappeared into the clouds over the shepherd's field, she said, "Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world."

Our Lady's Message

Our Lady kept Her promise and appeared to the children on the 13th of each month from May through October of 1917. Each time She delivered a clear message to the children and to all who would eventually listen to them: "Pray, pray the Rosary, repent and atone for your sins."

She asked the children to pray the Rosary each day for world peace, and to offer their daily sufferings and sacrifices in reparation for the sins of the world and for the conversion of sinners. 


Our Lady appeared at a critical time — as the so-called Great War was playing out across the world. It had been expected to last a few months, but the suffering and destruction dragged on for years. She warned that a worse war lay in store for humanity — predicting World War II — if people did not turn back to God.

She cited Russia by name, which itself had, a few years before, begun its mission of transforming the entire country, and all it could conquer, into a monolithic, communist state. Russia would continue to spread its "errors," resulting in more wars and persecution of the Church, if people did not repent and stop offending God, the Lady said.

Her message was dire, and Our Lady even gave the children a terrifying vision of Hell to illustrate Her message.

But, Our Lady also offered a message of hope. If people would turn back to God, Russia would be converted from its errors and peace could be restored. She promised "an era of peace would be granted to the world." 

During Her last visit on October 13, the children asked Her name. "I am the Lady of the Rosary," She said. "People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it everyday."

On this day, too, Our Lady performed a great miracle so that all might hear and heed Her message: "Pray. Pray the Rosary. Repent. Make amends for sins. Turn from evil ways. Do not offend God."

Miracle of the Dancing Sun

News of the apparitions had been spreading well beyond Fatima, so an estimated 70,000 people gathered in the shepherd's field on October 13 to behold a miracle.

Young, old, rich, poor, religious, non-believers and skeptics all gathered in expectation of a spectacular event, or to scoff if nothing happened.

The day was rainy and damp. Many carried umbrellas over their heads as their feet trekked through the muddy earth. The crowd was quiet in anticipation. Nothing happened — until the sky suddenly cleared of clouds, the sodden ground became dry and the sun showed itself through what some later described as a "transparent veil."

Some reported a kaleidoscope of colors radiating from the sun. Others described multi-colored flower petals falling from the sky that they couldn't touch.

Then the sun began to spin, witnesses said, twirling in the sky. At one point, as the crowd gasped, it appeared to swerve directly toward the earth before bounding back to its place in the firmament. People said, "the sun danced in the sky."

Witnesses twenty-five miles away attested to the miraculous solar event.

Anti-clerical journalists reported on the phenomenon in their newspapers. One of the first publications to report the miracle — on its front page — was the anti-Catholic, Masonic journal, O Século.

The miracle of the sun flew in the face of the atheistic propaganda of the day (which continues in our time) that said "God is dead," or no longer relevant. It also confirmed that what the three children had been experiencing was true.

Mary's Apparitions and Portugal's Turn from God

Our Lady's apparitions were made even more relevant by political, social and religious changes that had been upending Portugal in the preceding years.

During the late 19th century, a group of Freemasons was working to destabilize the country, with an eye to weakening the Church and securing total power.


By 1910, the revolutionaries were able to overturn the constitutional monarchy and establish a Masonic government — the First Portuguese Republic. Loyalists to the king were disarmed, and Portugal's King Manuel II fled the country, spending the rest of his life in exile.


The revolutionaries knew that to be successful they had to destroy the Catholic Church. Just days after the inauguration of the new government, churches were plundered and their goods confiscated. Monasteries and convents were closed and religious were harassed.


The new republic quickly began enacting anti-religious laws: the legalization of divorce, the abolition of sacred oaths from civil ceremonies, prohibition of religious teaching in schools, the secularization of cemeteries, and the banning of priests from wearing cassocks.


In addition, the ringing of church bells and times of worship were subjected to government control, and public celebration of religious feast days was suppressed.


The government also interjected itself into the remaining seminaries, reserving the right to appoint professors and determine study programs.


The series of persecutions culminated in the Law of Separation of Church and State, passed in 1911. A key author of the anti-Christian measure boasted, "Thanks to this law of separation, in two generations Catholicism will be completely eliminated in Portugal."


It has been estimated that between 1911 and 1916, nearly 2,000 priests, monks, and nuns were killed by anti-Christian forces in Portugal. The persecution of Catholics in the early years of the Portuguese Republic was so severe, it attracted international criticism from foreign diplomats, humanitarian organizations and journalists.

Pope Benedict XV and the 'Suicide of Civilized Europe'

On May 5, 1917 — just days before the first apparition to the shepherd children — Pope Benedict XV released a pastoral letter to the world, asking for Our Lady's intervention to end World War I.


Having exhausted all other means in his power to bring about détente, the Pope wrote a plea for peace in his letter:


"Our earnestly pleading voice, invoking the end of the vast conflict, the suicide of civilized Europe, was then and has remained ever since unheard. Indeed, it seemed that the dark tide of hatred grew higher and wider among the belligerent nations, and drew other countries into its frightful sweep, multiplying ruin and massacre.
Nevertheless, our confidence was not lessened. … Since all graces which the Author of all good deigns to grant to the poor children of Adam, by a loving design of His Divine Providence are dispensed through the hands of the most holy Virgin, we wish that the petition of Her most afflicted children, more than ever in this terrible hour, may turn with lively confidence to the august Mother of God."


Then, urging prayer from every corner of the earth for peace, he made another appeal:


"To Mary, then, who is the Mother of Mercy and omnipotent by grace, let loving and devout appeal go up from every corner of the earth — from noble temples and tiniest chapels, from royal palaces and mansions of the rich as from the poorest hut — from blood-drenched plains and seas. Let it bear to Her the anguished cry of mothers and wives, the wailing of innocent little ones, the sighs of every generous heart: that Her most tender and benign solicitude may be moved and the peace we ask for be obtained for our agitated world."

Many Catholic observers see the first apparition in Fatima, just eight days after Pope Benedict XV's agonized appeal for peace, a Heavenly response and a sure sign of Our Lady's maternal connection to humankind.

St. Louis de Montfort, Pope St. John Paul II and Our Lady of Fatima

One of the Church's most prominent devotees of Our Lady is St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716), a French priest famous for his powerful preaching.

Once, a group of soldiers was so moved by De Montfort's words, they wept, fell to their knees, and cried aloud for forgiveness of their sins. Afterward, the soldiers walked in a holy procession, barefooted, to show humility and desire for atonement. They each carried a crucifix in one hand and a Rosary in the other as they sang hymns.

The saint also penned several classic religious books, including "True Devotion to Mary," in which he explains a 33-day preparation for consecration to Jesus through His Mother.

After De Montfort's death, his devotional book was lost amid the chaos of the French Revolution and the destruction of Church property.

But in 1842 a priest, belonging to the religious order De Montfort had founded, came across the book in a monastery library, where it had been hidden from the French revolutionaries.

At first, the priest didn't know what the dusty manuscript was. He started browsing through it for something he could use in an upcoming sermon. But suddenly, he realized it was the Marian devotional of the beloved founder of his order.

"True Devotion to Mary" spread throughout France and, over the decades, throughout the world. It remains today a go-to for anyone looking to consecrate their life to Jesus and His Mother.

When Pope St. John Paul II (1920–2005) was a young man in Poland, he came across the devotional and, upon reading it, called it "a decisive turning-point in my life."

"It was a moment in which I to some extent debated about my devotion toward Mary, thinking that if it spread too far it would end up by compromising the supremacy of the worship due to Christ. 'True Devotion to Mary' by St. Louis de Montfort then helped me."

"In it I found the answer to my perplexities. ... De Montfort is an excellent theologian. His Mariological thought is rooted in the Trinitarian Mystery and in the truth of the Incarnation of the Word of God," the pontiff said.

Inspired by De Montfort's book, he consecrated himself to Mary and took as his papal motto "Totus Tuus," i.e., "totally yours," signifying complete surrender to the service of the Mother of God.

John Paul II was shot by an assassin in Saint Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the anniversary of Our Lady's first apparition at Fatima in 1917. One year later on May 13 in 1982, he visited the site of the apparitions and miracle — now a magnificent shrine — in thanksgiving.

He visited Fatima two more times — on May 13 in 1991, the 10th anniversary of the failed assassination attempt, and during the Church's Great Jubilee of 2000, when on May 13, he beatified the child visionaries, Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

The Holy Father attributed his survival to Our Lady of Fatima, and became more devoted to her. The attack had left him so close to death that he was convinced the Holy Mother had saved his life.

Throughout his papacy, he did much to direct people’s attention to Fatima, calling Her message "more relevant, more urgent" than in 1917, and a message directed specifically to our time.

The Price of Unrepentance

Indeed, Mary's message is more urgent than ever. The "errors" of communism have infested the world — proof of unrepentance.

Communism consumed Russia, resulting in millions of deaths and persecution of the Church. The Soviet Union spread communism throughout the world, with catastrophic consequences – including wars, famine, and massive casualties.

Because of our refusal to repent, communism continues to destroy societies — including, now, those of the West. America, in particular, is being ravaged; not always by open warfare, but in more insidious ways — the leftist lunacy being propagated in our schools and through the media as well as attacks on marriage, the family and children.

But Mary's message is not without hope. We can reach peace once we see the "errors" of our ways, turn toward God, pray and repent. That journey may begin today on our knees, like the soldiers who heard De Montfort's sermon, and with a Rosary in our hand.


Final Note

If you want to honor Mary's month while learning more about how to draw close to Jesus through Her, consider St. Louis de Montfort's book "True Devotion to Mary," available to purchase along with many other wonderful books, and more, in our store.

Dr. Barbara Toth has a doctorate in rhetoric and composition from Bowling Green State University. She has taught at universities in the US, China and Saudi Arabia. Her work in setting up a writing center at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahmen University, an all-women's university in Riyadh, has been cited in American journals. Toth has published academic and non-academic articles and poems internationally.

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