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Our Lady Of Fatima: The September Apparition

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By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY

(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of articles on the one hundredth anniversary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.)

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The Mother of God’s appearance to the three shepherd children at Fatima on August 19 ended with our Lady’s face becoming sad as she said: “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to Hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.” (1)
Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta responded generously to this request by making sacrifices of reparation to God for the conversion of sinners in a number of ways far beyond their years to a degree characteristic of the saints. They had agreed to give there lunch to any poor children they met and as a result, only took as nourishment on some days, pine nuts and little berries. (2)
And then there is this beautiful anecdote from the children’s simple and earnest desire for penance that is so foreign to the aversion in our own time to suffering — we can think of how common it is to hear a Christianity preached without the cross. One day while walking together, they found a heavy piece of rope lying in the road. Playfully Lucia tied it around her arm and soon discovered that it caused her pain. “Look this hurts!” she exclaimed. “We could tie this around our body for another sacrifice.” (3)
They cut pieces of it to wear as girdles around their waists upon their skin so they might offer the pain and discomfort to God for the conversion of sinners. Many times it prevented them from getting the good night’s sleep they needed. For Jacinta in particular, there was so much pain to the point where she could hardly hold back tears. When her older cousin Lucia would prudently advise her to remove the rope, she would refuse, stating she must continue to wear it in reparation and for the conversion of sinners. (4)
Though our Lady would alleviate the practice of wearing the rope at night in her next apparition, it is in this penitential manner that the children awaited our Lady’s return on the 13th of the next month of September.
When the day arrived for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s fifth apparition, the largest crowd yet to assemble in the Cova da Iria waited there, numbering an estimated 25,000 people. The imprisonment of the children the previous month caused such a stir that interest in the events occurring at Fatima increased tremendously. (5) The crowd was so thick it was difficult for the children to make their way through to the holmoak tree where our Lady would appear.
In her memoirs written later as a nun, Sr. Lucia detailed the scene of the crowds pressing in upon the children:
“They threw themselves on their knees before us, begging us to place their petitions before Our Lady. Others who could not get close to us shouted from a distance: ‘For the love of God, ask Our Lady to cure my son who is a cripple!’ Yet another cried out: ‘And to cure mine who is blind!…To cure mine who is deaf!…To bring back my husband, my son who has gone to war!…To convert a sinner!…To give me back my health as I have tuberculosis!” and so on. All the afflictions of poor humanity were assembled there. (6)
But not everyone gathered in the Cova was a true believer. Plenty were present simply out of curiosity, others were skeptics, and still others outright disbelievers who came to scoff at the charade garnering so much needless attention.

A Luminous Globe

As the children prayed the rosary with the people, they saw a flash of light which always immediately preceded our Lady’s appearances. In the crowd were a number of priests. One named Fr. Joao Quaresma reported the following about our Lady’s arrival:
“To my great astonishment I saw clearly and distinctly a luminous globe that moved from the east toward the west, slowly and majestically gliding down across the distance….
“‘What do you think of that globe?’ I asked of my friend [another priest named Fr. Manuel da Silva]….
“‘That it was Our Lady,’ he replied without hesitation. It was my conviction also. The little shepherds looked on the Mother of God herself; to us was granted the grace to see the carriage which had transported her.” (7)
Others reported seeing the same luminous globe.
In this apparition, the Mother of God’s message was succinct:
“Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. St. Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices. He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only to wear it during the daytime” (8)
Lucia petitioned our Lady on behalf of those who came to the Cova with so many intentions: “I was told to ask you many things, the cure of some sick people, of a deaf-mute….” Our Lady replied: “Yes, I will cure some, but not others.” Lucia did not want to forget any petition and so continued on: “The people would like very much to have a chapel built here.”
Our Lady replied: “Use half of the money received so far for the litters. On one of them, place the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. The other half should be set aside to help with the building of the chapel.”
Lucia then pleaded, “Many people say that I am a swindler who should be hanged or burned. Please perform a miracle for all to believe.” (9)
The Mother of God again, affirmed what would take place the following month at her last apparition in Fatima: “In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.” (10)
Finally, not wanting to forget any requests, Lucia told our Lady: “Some people gave me these two letters for you and a bottle of cologne.” “None of that is needed in Heaven” came the reply. (11)
With this, our Lady departed and as she did, Lucia cried out: “If you want to see our Lady, look there!” She pointed toward the east. Many people, like Fathers Quaresma and da Silva, testified later in canonical inquiries established by the local bishop that they saw something like a luminous cloud, a kind of “vehicle” which brought our Lady from Heaven and returned her there again after the apparition. (12)
The promised miracle was just one month away.

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Footnotes

1. Andrew Apostoli, Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), pp. 106-107.
2. Ibid., 107.
3. John de Marchi, The True Story of Fatima: A Complete Account of the Fatima Apparitions (Constable, New York: The Fatima Center, 2009), p. 44.
4. Apostoli, p. 114.
5. Ibid., p. 108.
6. Ibid., p. 109.
7. Warren H. Carroll, 1917: Red Banners, White Mantle (Front Royal, Va.: Christendom Publications, 1981), p. 100.
8. Lucia dos Santos, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs 20th Edition (Fatima Postulation Center, 2016), p. 181.
9. De Marchi, p. 46.
10. Dos Santos, p. 182.
11. De Marchi, p. 46.
12. Apostoli, p. 116.

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