Fatima and World Peace

The apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 in the midst of World War I and at the outset of the Soviet “October Revolution” have had long-range historical effects.

The prelude to the Fatima apparitions was the appearance in the spring of 1916 of an angel, who identified himself as the “angel of peace” to three Portuguese children: Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco. The angel appeared to them again in the summer, telling them that heaven had “designs of mercy” and teaching them to offer prayers and sacrifices. He appeared a third time in the fall, offering the children the Eucharist.

The appearances of Our Lady began on May 13, 1917, and continued on the thirteenth of each month – except August, when the children were imprisoned and threatened with execution. On August 19, Our Lady appeared in a different location and promised the children that she would perform a miracle on October 13, so that all might believe.

The miracle turned out to be what Thomas Aquinas classified as the highest class of miracle – an event absolutely impossible according to nature. In this instance, it was gyrations of the sun, moving up and down three times, witnessed by 70,000 persons in Fatima and neighboring villages, and reported in newspapers.

Historical changes began almost immediately. Physicist and theologian Fr. Stanley L. Jaki, who traveled to Portugal to undertake a thorough scientific investigation of eyewitness accounts and depositions regarding the “miracle of the sun,” observes in his book, God and the Sun at Fatima:

The day after the miracle of the sun Portugal’s history began to change in the voting booths, though at that time nobody could see the ultimate portent of this.  What, one may ask, if Portugal had fallen the prey of the plans of Lenin who described Lisbon as the most atheistic capital in the world? He would not have watched Lisbon so closely, had he no designs about it. What would have happened to Spain [during the Spanish Civil War], with Portugal already in the Communist camp? And what would have become of France, ruled by a “Popular Front,” if the entire Iberian Peninsula had turned into an outpost of Moscow?

In addition to effects on the Iberian peninsula, prophetic messages for people in the twentieth century were also conveyed in three “Secrets” Our Lady confided to the children, which were later revealed by the surviving witness, Lucia.

The First Secret consisted of a vision of Hell, followed up by the warning that wars were caused by sin, that “sins of the flesh” were the most frequent cause of entering Hell, and that God wished to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary to save sinners from everlasting perdition.

     Fatima, 1917

The Second Secret was a warning about the coming of World War II, and the spread of Soviet Communism, followed by requests for personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Communions of reparation on five First Saturdays of the month, and consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart by the pope and bishops. Our Lady warned that failure to do this would result in Russia spreading its errors throughout the world, and the persecution of Christians. But she added that the pope would eventually do the consecration and Russia would be converted.

In the Third Secret, released by the Vatican in 2000, Our Lady did not speak. The three children witnessed a panorama of the future sufferings of Christians and the pope, and heard an angel holding a flaming sword over the world, shouting “penance, penance, penance”!

After his investigation, Fr. Jaki concluded that Fatima is arguably the most important event of the twentieth century, a providential sign for an era that was to witness so many incredible acts of inhumanity and immorality.

In 1984, Pope John Paul II, in conjunction with bishops throughout the world, consecrated Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (The assassination attempt on JPII occurred on May 13, 1981, and he visited Fatima for beatification of two of the children on May 13, 2000 – the bullet that failed to kill him, according to Church authorities, fit perfectly into a crown on a statue of Mary there.)  In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union took the world by surprise.

Some Fatimists have been disappointed about the lack of individual conversions in Russia. But Our Lady spoke of the conversion of a country. Signs in post-1989 Russia are many: Orthodox Christians number 60 million, including the president and prime minister. According a 2009 National Geographic article:

In 1987 there were only three monasteries in Russia; today there are 478. Then there were just two seminaries; now there are 25. Most striking is the explosion of churches, from about 2,000 in Gorbachev’s time to nearly 13,000 today.

What still remains is the reunion of “sister churches” of Orthodoxy with the Roman rite, towards which significant steps have been made since Vatican II. Possibly, this achievement would “close the circuit” and bring about a miraculous change in Christianity and the world.

Russia is no longer spreading its errors around the world, and persecuting Christians. But Christians are still being persecuted at the hands of Islamist militants shouting “Allahu Akbar,” who now present great obstacles, not only to democracy, as discussed in a previous column, but to world peace.

Why did Our Lady not mention this threat, when she warned of world wars and the persecution of Christians? It was not necessary, since we have had adequate warning from Our Lord himself, who prophesied: “The hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God” (John 16:2).

The requests of Our Lady at Fatima – consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, reparation on five First Saturdays, and penance – still offer us the only sure roadmap to peace.

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz, Emeritus Professor at Marquette University, is the author of twenty-five books on German philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, and religion, and over a hundred articles in scholarly journals, print magazines, online magazines, and op-eds. He was a recipient of an NEH fellowship for 1977-8, and Fulbright fellowships in Germany for 1980-1 and 1987-8. His website is at Marquette University.

  • Jacob

    Did the apparitions say anything about the hundreds of millions of murdered babies?

    Are the angels like leftists and only care about God’s children when you can see them being murdered with the human eye?

  • Manfred

    Thank you, Howard, for a well researched and well wriiten article on Fatima. Just a comment or two. The angel who appeared to the children in 1916 to prepare them for the Marian apparitions of 1917 identified himself as “the guardian angel of Portugal”. In July, 1917, at the third time Mary appears she showed the children a very disturbing vision of Hell. (So much for Rahner and Von Balthasar positing at time of the Council that all might be saved.)Lastly,the Rosary which I do not believe you mention. Mary asked that this prayer be inserted at the end of each decade: O my Jesus,pardon our sins, save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy Mercy.” BTW, the 2000 release of the Third Secret was incomplete as Cdl.Bertone who released it stated that the Pope’s suffering and death in the secret related to the assassination atwmpt on JP II in 1981 and therefore the message was for the past. Benedict was very clear-the Third Secret is still in the future.This “prophecy of doom” as it was called was to have been released by 1960 at Mary’s request. John XXIII when he read the message stated that the Secret applied to a time in the future and chose not to release it. Instead he called for the Council whose “spirit” has run counter to the Fatima message and has caused so much confusion and loss of souls.

  • Howard Kainz

    @Manfred: I agree with most of what you’re saying, but the 1000 word limit for columns puts a restraint on what I include. With regard to “the guardian angel of Portugal,” who appeared in the Summer of 1916, Mabel Norton in her book, Eye Witness at Fatima, explains that the 9th century king of Portugal, Alfonso Henriques, placed his country under the protection of St. Michael, and one of the titles of the Archangel is “Angel of Peace.” With regard to the controversy about the Third Secret, etc. I have discussed this issue at length in various issues of The New Oxford Review, Nov. 2011, Sept. 2012, April 2013 and June 2013. As I indicated in the column, I think the 3rd secret is very relevant right now.

  • Manfred

    Howard: No need to go on defense as it was not my intent to correct anything you wrote. You captured it.
    My intent was merely to expand, slightly, on the points you made. Citing Fr. Jaki’s comment about Fatima probably being the most important event in the twentieth century put you and me on the same side.

  • maineman

    Thank you for this informative and accurate review of these remarkable and still profound events.

    I would just quibble with the conclusion that the Russian errors are no longer spreading.

    As Jacob’s comment tangentially suggests, these errors are arguably still alive and well, having finally infected the U.S.

    The American central government, press, educational system, and art world are all in its throes and actively promoting destruction, economic and military, throughout the world.

  • sammy

    Gorbachev stated otherwise. The intentions of communism are to fool the world , fool the west into believing they were defeated. He stated more in ’87 to the Politburo. In fact, it is something communism has believed since its inception. This so called collapse has also been predicted by numerous prognosticators, so it was not totally a surprise. (Read Perestroika Deception by defector Golitsyn).
    ” The point is that the Communist goal is fixed and changeless — it never varies one iota from their objective of world domination, but if we judge them by the direction in which they seem to be going, we shall be deceived.” said Yelena Bonner, widow of the late Andrei Sakharov, a well known Russian anti-Communist.
    The conversion of Russia , which did not transpire, was to have as a result world peace, as stated by Our Lady to Sr. Lucy. This consecration of the world did have some benefits, but you cannot compare the two. Heaven will accept any consecration.
    And it must be emphasized, since today’s ecumenical mind-set has confused the issue, that the conversion of Russia means conversion to Catholicism. This is not only a point of common sense, but it is also found in the testimony of Father Joaquin Alonso, probably the top Fatima expert of the 20th Century. Father Alonso, who had many interviews with Sister Lucy, wrote in 1976:

    “. . . we should affirm that Lucia always thought that the ‘conversion’ of Russia is not to be limited to the return of the Russian People to the Orthodox Christian religions, rejecting the Marxist atheism of the Soviets, but rather, it refers purely, plainly and simply to the total, integral conversion of Russia to the one true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church.”
    I would say you left out quite a bit of pertinent info re Fatima.