Updated: Oct 8, 2021
By Theresa Anthony
It is May 12th, the vigil of the 103rd anniversary of the miraculous events that occurred in Fatima, Portugal. On May 13th, 1917 three humble little shepherd children, just going about their day tending the sheep in a rural enclave about 80 miles north of Lisbon, were graced with a most amazing visitor, the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the eldest child, Lucia, age 10, described the sight, "It was a Lady dressed all in white more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparking water, pierced by the burning rays of the sun."
I am writing tonight about Our Lady of Fatima for several reasons. First, because I have held a very special devotion to her since 1999, as I have detailed in my book. In fact, I have traveled twice to Fatima, Portugal on pilgrimage to this holy place, and hope to return again some day; Second, because for the first time since the site was established as an official pilgrimage site in 1927, there will be, sadly, no pilgrims permitted in the sanctuary this year due to the dangers presented to guests by the coronavirus pandemic; and finally, because our world desperately needs the intercessory prayers of the Blessed Mother at this time.
One doesn't even need to be a Catholic to appreciate the story of Our Lady of Fatima. Why? Because Jesus calls each one of us, regardless of our sinful past, to embrace Him as our Savior. His Mother, just as in Lourdes, France and Guadalupe, Mexico, reached out to us in Fatima as our heavenly Mother, beckoning us to pray, "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need."
The selection of these children to be the recipients of the messages she would relay over the ensuing six months--and culminating in a miraculous display witnessed by 70,000 people known as the Miracle of the Sun--was obviously by careful design. One would be hard pressed to find more courageous and pure little kids to entrust with this incredible role in history, one that was for them both a great grace and a heavy burden. The children never wavered in their accounting of the events, ever, even under the threat of death. How many children aged 6, 7 and 10 can you imagine bearing up under such harsh scrutiny in our modern times?
The Blessed Virgin was on a mission from heaven with some particular goals for us. She requested that we pray the Rosary every day, meditating on the life of Christ, to bring peace to the world and to end the war. She wanted us to pray for the poor souls in purgatory, to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and to pray for the conversion of sinners. In addition, she offered (frightening) visual evidence of the reality of hell, and made some astounding predictions--dire warnings--which have come to pass.
The gift of passing time has cemented the profound events that occurred at Fatima as a pivotal point in Church history. It seems with each new decade the messages relayed in 1917 are increasingly cogent and relevant. Approximately 7 million pilgrims make their way to Fatima, Portugal each year to find their hearts deeply moved and their souls restored, as I have been blessed to do.
Normally, there would be tens of thousands of pilgrims crowding the huge sanctuary space to pray the rosary--countless different languages heard all around you reciting those Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory Be's in tandem. But this year there will be no beautiful prayer vigil to welcome the upcoming anniversary celebration on May 13th. Tonight that sacred space is empty. Quiet. Still, yet not lifeless, because in that stillness, absent the physical presence of pilgrims this year, God still feels our spiritual presence there praying the prayers of the most holy rosary, beckoning, "Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen."
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have Mercy on Us: Please save the world from the deadly virus that threatens the planet.
Theresa Anthony is the author of My 13th Station, a memoir about the loss of her son to suicide. Available on Amazon.