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Our Lady of Fatima

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Our Lady of Fatima

Saint Pope John Paul II had great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima for it was on 13 May 1981 that he survived an attempt on his life. He attributed this to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima whose portrait he had turned to look at in St. Peter’s Square at the moment he was shot. But for this the bullet would have gone right through his heart and he would have most certainly died. Exactly one year later he made a pilgrimage to Fatima to thank Our Blessed Lady for her protection. He donated the bullet to the basilica at Fatima and it was placed in the crown of the statue of Our Lady.

It was on 13 May 1917, while Europe was in the grip of the First World War, that Our Lady appeared to three Portuguese shepherd children, Lucy, Francesco and Jacinta. They claimed to have seen a woman dressed in white standing on a cloud in an evergreen tree. She told the children to come to the same place on the thirteenth of every month until October when she would explain to them who she was. In the meantime they were to say the Rosary every day. Each time they returned she prophesied a number of world events and asked in particular that Russia should be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. As a great sign of the whole message truly coming from God, a marvellous miracle was worked in the sky above Fatima before 70,000 witnesses on 13 October 1917 at the time, date and place that Lucy and the other two children had prophesied in the name of Our Lady of Fatima. The miracle occurred with the sun at which everyone could stare perfectly without blinking or hurting their eyes. While they were watching the sun, it rotated, got large and small, came close to the people and went far away from them. Literally the sun "danced" and everyone there testified to seeing it, even non-believers, dropping onto their knees and begging for forgiveness.

Our Lady of Fatima promised that the whole world would be at peace, and that many souls would go to Heaven if her requests were listened to and obeyed. She told us that war is a punishment for sin; that God would punish the world for its sins in our time by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and persecution of the Holy Father, the Pope, unless we listened to and obeyed the command of God.

When Pope John Paul II visited Fatima he said that the message of Fatima is more relevant and more urgent now than when Our Lady first appeared. The message is an anguished appeal from our Heavenly Mother, who sees us in great danger and who comes to offer her help and advice. The local bishop acknowledged the apparitions as genuine and permitted devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.

Pope John Paul II beatified the two visionaries Jacinta and her brother Francesco. Lucy, who became a nun, died aged 98 in 2005, her body being laid to rest in the basilica at Fatima the following year.

Our world is still wounded by war, while men and women of goodwill continue to search for peace. We need to pray for the helpless victims of war and for world leaders to realise that peace does not come through war. What better prayer can we offer than the Rosary?

There is one thing I do not understand and that is why successive popes have not obeyed Our Lady of Fatima’s wish to dedicate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. I pray that very soon this will happen. Our world will most certainly be a more peaceful and better place if Our Lady of Fatima’s wish is obeyed.

Today we ask Our Lady of Fatima to continue protecting our Pope, our Church and our world.