The Fatima Prophecies - Three Secrets of Fatima
The Three Secrets of Fatima consist of a series of visions and prophecies claimed to be given by an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three young Portuguese shepherds, Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, on July 13, 1917. The three children claimed to have been visited by a Marian apparition six times between May and October 1917. The apparition is now popularly known as Our Lady of Fatima.
The "miracle at Fatima" is arguably the most well-known apparition of the Blessed Mother. Her appearance to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917 was, according to many witnesses, accompanied by several unexplained events, including a shared vision of the sun dancing and moving about erratically in the sky.
During her many appearances to the children, "Our Lady" bestowed upon them three prophecies. The first two were disclosed by Lucia dos Santos, the eldest of the three children, after she wrote them down in the early 1940s, but the third and final prophecy was not to be revealed until 1960. Well, 1960 came and went, and the third prophecy was not revealed because the Vatican said the world was not quite ready for it. This reluctance to disclose the secret lead to speculation among the faithful that it contained information about our future that was so horrific that the Pope dared not reveal it. Perhaps it foretold a nuclear war... or the end of the world.
On July 13, around noon, the lady is said to have entrusted the children with three secrets. Two of the secrets were revealed in 1941 in a document written by Lúcia, at the request of José da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, to assist with the publication of a new edition of a book on Jacinta. When asked by the Bishop of Leiria in 1943 to reveal the third secret, Lúcia struggled for a short period, being "not yet convinced that God had clearly authorized her to act." However, in October 1943 the bishop of Leiria ordered her to put it in writing. Lucia then wrote the secret down and sealed it in an envelope not to be opened until 1960, when "it will appear clearer." The text of the third secret was officially released by Pope John Paul II in 2000, although some claim that it was not the real secret revealed by Lucia, despite assertions from the Vatican to the contrary.
The first secret was a vision of Hell:
Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.
The second secret is a statement that World War I would end and supposedly predicts the coming of World War II should God continue to be offended and if Russia does not convert. The second half requests that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart:
You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light*, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.
This secret's controversy is second only to the supposed final secret of Fatima, as it seemingly predicts both the all-encompassing World War II, the radical, bloody, and extreme anti-religion ideology of the Soviet Union; the proxy wars and limited direct confrontations that would be initiated between the Western Democracies and the Soviet Bloc. Some critics have noted that the "Prophecy" was not disclosed until August 1941, after World War II had already begun. Pope Pius XII allegedly consecrated Russia on July 7, 1952.
The third part of the secret was written down "by order of His Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and the Most Holy Mother ..." on 3 January 1944. Bishop Silva, visiting Lúcia on 15 September 1943 while she was bed-ridden, first suggested that she write the third secret down to ensure that it would be recorded in the event of her death. Lucia was hesitant to do so, however. Finally, in mid-October, Bishop Silva sent her a letter containing a direct order to record the secret, and Lúcia obeyed. In June 1944, the sealed envelope containing the third secret was delivered to Silva, where it stayed until 1957, when it was finally delivered to Rome.
It was announced on 13 May 2000, 83 years after the first apparition of the Lady to the children in the Cova da Iria, that the third secret would finally be released. The text was published on 26 June 2000:
The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917.
I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: 'Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White 'we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Along with the text of the secret, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published a theological commentary, in which he states that:
"A careful reading of the text of the so-called third 'secret' of Fatima ... will probably prove disappointing or surprising after all the speculation it has stirred. No great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled."
After explaining the differences between public and private revelations, he cautions people not to see in the message a determined future event:
"The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore we must totally discount fatalistic explanations of the “secret”, such as, for example, the claim that the would-be assassin of 13 May 1981 was merely an instrument of the divine plan guided by Providence and could not therefore have acted freely, or other similar ideas in circulation. Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them."
He then moves on to talk about the symbolic nature of the images, noting that:
"The concluding part of the 'secret' uses images which Lucia may have seen in devotional books and which draw their inspiration from long-standing intuitions of faith."
As for the meaning of the message:
"What remains was already evident when we began our reflections on the text of the 'secret': the exhortation to prayer as the path of 'salvation for souls' and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion."
Third Secret controversy
The Vatican withheld the third secret until June 26, 2000 – despite Lúcia's declaration that it could be released to the public after 1960. Several sources, including Canon Barthas and Cardinal Ottaviani, said that Sr. Lúcia insisted to them it must be released by 1960, saying, "by that time, it will be more clearly understood." When 1960 passed without any such announcement, immense speculation over the content of the secret materialized. According to the New York Times, speculation over the content of the secret ranged "from worldwide nuclear annihilation to deep rifts in the Roman Catholic Church that lead to rival papacies."
There are some groups who dispute that the full text of the third secret has been officially published. The most prominent among these is The Fatima Center, which is run by Father Nicholas Gruner. Gruner was suspended as a priest by the Avellino, Italy diocese. The Congregation for the Clergy announced on September 12, 2001, that Gruner's suspension was "confirmed by a definitive sentence of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature." Father Gruner rejected the validity of the suspension and continues to perform the functions of a priest. On November 22, 2006, the Italian author Antonio Socci published Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima (The Fourth Secret of Fatima) in Italian, which also argues that the Vatican has not formally released the entire Third Secret. These critics, for example, point to the fact that Lucia's vision, as recorded in the officially released text, does not contain any words from Mary, as one might expect, and says nothing about a crisis of faith in the Church.
The Vatican has maintained its position that the full text of the Third Secret was published in June 2000. A report from the Zenit Daily Dispatch dated December 20, 2001, based on a Vatican press release, claimed that Lucia told then Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, in an interview conducted the previous month, that the secret has been completely revealed and published, and that no secrets remain.Bertone was entrusted by John Paul II with the publication of the third part of the secret of Fatima.
It is held by Fatima researchers Dr. Joaquim Fernandes and Fina d'Armada that the events described in the third secret of Fatima did occur exactly as foretold, with one exception: at the end, the "Bishop dressed in White" was saved from certain death. This research concludes that the "Bishop dressed in White", of whom Lúcia says "'we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'", who "prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way" was Bishop D. Ximenes Belo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate; the "big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow" was Dili in East-Timor, an ex-colony of Portugal and a territory of people long devoted to Our Lady; the timeline of the mentioned events of atrocity is claimed to have occurred during the month of September, 1999.
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