Dear Friends in Christ
This weekend we celebrate an important anniversary: one hundred years ago on 13th May, Our Blessed Lady appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis will travel to Fatima this weekend for the celebrations there and at the same time canonise the the two youngest children, Francisco & Jacinta. Lucia, who became a Carmelite nun, died as recently as 2005. By way of preparing the children for the apparitions, God sent an Angel to them in 1916, who taught them to pray and make reparation for those who do not adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament as they should:
The world was in turmoil in 1917 and when Our Lady appeared to the children on six occasions between May and October of that year, it was to ask them to pray for peace. Specifically Our Lady asked the children to pray the Holy Rosary every day for peace, to make acts of sacrifice, and consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, especially Russia at that time, which was spreading the errors of Communism abroad. During the apparition on 13th July, Our Lady taught the children the much beloved prayer that many of us say after each decade of the Rosary:
St Pope John II made the Consecration of the world to Mary’s Heart in 1983 and indeed many of the events in his own life — not least the assassination attempt — have a direct relation to the messages of Fatima. Perhaps the most striking phenomenon was the miracle of the sun that took place on the occasions of the final apparition, 13th October 1917. Over 70,000 people witnessed the sun dance in the sky and then come crashing down to the earth; this miracle had been foretold by Our Lady as a proof of her apparitions and veracity of the messages. Fatima is a story that deserves to be re-read and preached in our own time. The Church is always careful to remind us that such apparitions — even when given the full approval of the Church — nonetheless enjoy a private status and cannot compel universal belief. However, when all of the Popes of the last century have endorsed Fatima and its message, and countless souls have been brought to conversion through the messages, we cannot deny that something truly supernatural occurred there and which we can celebrate loudly this year; the year in which propitiously, our Diocese was founded. May God and His Immaculate Mother bless us all!