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Monday, May 13, 2013

Our Lady of Fatima and Pope John Paul II

Our Lady of Fatima and
Pope John Paul II

          Today, May 13, is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  In Fatima, Portugal, on May 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared for the first time to three shepherd children.  Over the next six months she appeared to the children with messages for the world.  She asked for prayer and fasting for reparation for sin, among other requests, and the apparitions received Heavenly confirmation with the famous “Miracle of the Sun” on October 13.
          There was one curious part of the apparitions which I would like to focus on in this article.  Our Lady asked that the pope consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, or it would “spread its errors throughout the world.”  This seemed a strange request since Russia was a relatively poor and pious country.  But it wasn’t long before the Bolshevik Revolution brought the Communists to power in the newly organized Soviet Union and Russia did in fact spread her errors throughout the world.  It would be many years before the consecration would occur.
          Another famous aspect of the apparitions is the “three secrets.”  The first two came true within only a few years of the apparitions, but the third remained a secret until June, 2000.  It was then revealed that the third secret contained a vision of the pope, shot and apparently killed.
          This prophecy was fulfilled when, in 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot by a would-be assassin, hired by the Soviet Union, on May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fatima for saving his life.  Shortly after the assassination attempt, he read the third secret, and on May 13, 1982, one year after the attack, he placed the bullet in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
          Then, on March 25, 1984, Pope John Paul II consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in response to the request made at Fatima.  There has been speculation about both the Third Secret and the Consecration, but the Vatican as well as Sister Lucia, the longest living of the three visionaries, confirmed that the secret was accurately released and that the 1984 consecration fulfilled Our Lady’s request.
          Why did Pope John Paul consecrate the world, which includes Russia, rather than just Russia as was requested?  Because in 1917 the plan was to stop Russia from spreading her errors throughout the world.  By 1984, she had already spread those errors throughout the world; therefore the whole world needed to be consecrated.
          As if to confirm that, as Mary said at Fatima: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” the Soviet Union finally fell.  The agreement was reached to formally dissolve the Soviet Union with the signing of the Belavezha Accords, which were signed on December 8, 1991.  December 8 – the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
          The feast of Our Lady of Fatima is important for many reasons.  One is that the call of Our Lady to prayer, penance and holiness of life remains central to the Church and the future of the world.  Also, the history of the events surrounding Fatima and Pope John Paul II remind us that even when the world seems totally out of control, God will triumph in the end.  Nothing is beyond the reach of His power.
          For more information about this topic, see the talk The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, by Father Michael Gaitley, author of 33 Days to Morning Glory, both available by Lighthouse Catholic Media.