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Spring 1916… The First Apparition Of Angel Of Portugal

April 24, 2016 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

This year is the centenary of the three apparitions of the Angel of Portugal, or the Angel of Peace, to the three Fatima seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santos, in the spring, summer, and autumn of 1916. And just as the appearances of the angel prepared the children for their encounters with our Lady the following year, so we too can prepare for the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions next year by considering what the angel said to the children.
This article will look at the first of these apparitions and explore its significance for us in 2016.
We don’t have an exact date for this apparition, but Sr. Lucia remembers it as being in the spring, and it took place not far from their homes in the village of Aljustrel, near Fatima, in a hollow among some rocks in an olive grove. While they were playing, a strong wind began to shake the trees. They looked up, startled, because the day was unusually calm.
Then they saw, in Lucia’s later words in her memoirs, coming toward them, above the olive trees, the figure of “a young man, about fourteen or fifteen years old, whiter than snow, transparent as crystal when the sun shines through it, and of great beauty.”
When he reached them he said, “Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.”
Those three short sentences contain a wealth of meaning, and you could almost say that they contain the essence of the biblical message. Regarding the first sentence, “Do not be afraid!” in the Gospels, we read of something similar when the Angel Gabriel appeared to our Lady and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).
Any encounter with God or one of his messengers is not something to be afraid of.
Regarding the second sentence, in which the angel identified himself to the children as “the Angel of Peace,” he was sending out a very clear message to them, and also to the people of that era — and indeed our own era, too — of the importance of peace.
This is particularly the case since in July 1917, our Lady would tell the children that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph and a period of peace would be given to the world. So this emphasizes that the message of Fatima is a message of peace and that it is meant to bring about world peace.
The angel’s final opening words — “Pray with me” — are also significant: They indicate that in the divine plan, prayer is so important that mankind, through the children, had to be reminded of the deep necessity of prayer. In St. Luke’s Gospel we read of Jesus saying to His disciples that they “ought always to pray and not lose heart” (18:1), and this was also advice that St. Paul repeated, when he said that we should “pray constantly” (1 Thess. 5: 17).
When the angel had made these introductory remarks, he knelt, and bowing down until his forehead touched the ground, he asked the children to repeat the following words three times:
“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you! I ask pardon of you for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.”
When he had finished saying this prayer, he rose and said, “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”
There was obviously great power in the angel’s words because St. Lucia said that, “His words engraved themselves so deeply on our minds that we could never forget them. From then on, we used to spend long periods of time, prostrate like the Angel, repeating his words, until sometimes we fell, exhausted.”
Again, even in that short prayer, which on the surface seems quite simple, there are actually great depths of spirituality — which is what we would expect for a prayer coming from an angel sent by God.
At the time, the children were only aged six, eight, and nine, and so in that sense, such a short prayer was ideally suited to them. But at the same time its focus on the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, points us to the essential nature of how we should relate to God, as we see from the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Q. 384):
“The theological virtues have God Himself as their origin, motive, and direct object. Infused with sanctifying grace, they bestow on one the capacity to live in a relationship with the Trinity. They are the foundation and energizing force of the Christian’s moral activity and they give life to the human virtues. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being.”
But while the first part of this prayer is focused on how we should express the theological virtues toward God, the second part is focused on our fellow human beings who do not believe in God or pray to Him, and so has a strong element of intercession. And because this is such a common position now in the “post-Christian” West, this prayer is even more important and urgent than it was 100 years ago.
This was what Pope St. John Paul II was talking about when in his encyclical Ecclesia in Europa, he said that “European culture gives the impression of ‘silent apostasy’ on the part of people who have all that they need and who live as if God does not exist” (n. 9).
The Pope was talking in particular about Europe, but his words also apply to the situation in the United States — which is catching up to Europe in this respect.
The other important type of prayer which the angel mentioned was the prayer of adoration. We must believe, hope, and love God, but we must also adore Him. As the angel indicated in his third apparition to the children in the autumn, the best way to adore God is through eucharistic adoration.
The angel’s final words during his brief first apparition to the little shepherds were also very significant: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”
Here we can see that God and His Blessed Mother wanted the prayers of Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia and were waiting to answer them, and likewise the same is true of us when we pray to them in the same heartfelt manner as the children.
So the best way we can prepare for the Fatima Centenary next year is to look again at the words and actions of the Angel of Peace, to ponder them and meditate on them, and so become more able to pray meaningfully to Jesus and Mary.

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(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also a written a time-travel/adventure book for young people — details can be found at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk.)

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