Upon the Centenary of Fatima

   Children of Fatima



Eschatological Ecstasy:

The Christian Eschatology Behind the Apparitions at Fatima

            Some of the richest eschatological material of the last millennium is to be mined in 20th century Marian apparitions. As Perry and Echeverria wrote in Under the Heel of Mary, “‘Apparitions,’ we are told by a leading Mariologist, ‘are rediscovering their meaning and their value.’”[1] This claim of 1980s scholarship is prescient, indeed, considering Mary’s face has graced the covers of Time and Life alike in the past year alone. Her cultus is alive and well, even in the purely secular sphere. However, Marian apparitions – like most prophecies – are fraught with manipulation, before, during, and after their occurrence – by believers and dissenters alike. In fact, according to Maurice Ryan, “Official recognition by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church admits not that the appearances are historical realities, but rather that the reports are without fraud, manipulation, intent to deceive, attention seeking, psychological imbalance, or demonic intent.”[2]

On the one hand, apologetic literature abounds, often assuming an overtly polemical tone, as is seen in popularizing, sensationalizing texts like Father Paul Kramer’s The Devil’s Final Battle.[3] On the other hand, most of the critical literature purports to adopt an impartial vantage, analyzing the phenomenological, psychological, sociological, and geopolitical ramifications of said apparitions, typified in the watershed treatment of the subject to be found in Sandra Zimdars-Swartz’s Encountering Mary.[4] Now, neither the propagandist nor the empiricist can provide a full account of the dynamics that surround Marian apparitions, as both approaches fall prey to extremes of speculative conjecture. The danger of either approach is a certain reductive tendency to obscure any meaning that can be abstracted from a reading of the visionaries’ own accounts on their own terms, insofar as that is possible.

To do so, is to read them from a fundamentally eschatological perspective. After all, as Louis Lochet succinctly posits in his marvelous little volume, Apparitions of Our Lady, ““For the second coming as for the first, it is the mother who makes everything ready for her Son’s arrival.”[5] Likewise, as Yves Dupont in Catholic Prophecy observes, “Many prophecies speak of the special role of Mary in the latter days.”[6] More derisively perhaps, Maurice Ryan points out how, “Sociologist Gerald Arbuckle… suggests that ‘the contemporary enthusiasm for this or that latest ‘revelation’ of the Mother of God… surely reflects this ever-present tendency for people to run after millenarian dreams.”[7] To make matters even more difficult for the historian, these Marian apparitions with eschatological themes by their very nature communicate concepts independent of the natural course of history.

There is, however, a third, middle course to obviate the risk of superimposing a false construct of either credulity or skepticism upon the text of the messages. By “sticking to the script,” so to speak, or attending to the words of the visionaries and their contemporaries, we have a better shot at formulating a systematic understanding of the implications of Marian apparitions in the history of the evolution of Christian eschatology. Determinations as to whether the apparitions are supernatural, preternatural, or natural in origin lie beyond the scope of our current pursuit. The wise theologian understands that all three often come into play anyway, in these matters. In a similar vein, we are not interested in merely recapitulating the nuances of their narratives. As much ink has heretofore been spilled upon the subject of the veracity of the visionaries, we shall confine our study here to eschatological implications that arise from strict exegesis of the testimonies themselves. Besides, as Ryan pessimistically concludes, “The attempt to prove or disprove the reality of apparitions seems destined to remain unresolved.”[8]

Through the history of Marian apparitions, no one apparition has quite mystified the public as much as Fatima has. This paper will attempt to adumbrate the eschatological framework that arises from the Fatima apparition. Controversy, conspiracy, and hysteria swarm around these events, chiefly due to extraordinary phenomena of the events themselves and the ecclesiastical intrigue surrounding the dissemination of the “messages” contained therein. As an apparition is predominantly an interior, private event, even if it contains exterior, public implications. History relies upon eyewitness evidence, and in the case of apparitions, the only eyewitness accounts of the apparitions proceed from the visionaries themselves.

In the case of Fatima, the historian finds a great boon in the form of the Memoirs of Sister Lucia Dos Santos, the last survivor of Fatima. From her writings, we should be able to adduce a feasible framework for understanding their unique and varying contributions to Christian eschatology as a branch of theology. The need for such a framework is ostensibly a pressing one, insofar as the visionaries at Fatima maintain that they possess insight into the very fate of the human race, regardless of state or creed. Eschatology is the study of “the end,” so the question that arises from the diaries of Lucia is whether the apparitions pertain to the end of each lifespan, the end of the present era, or the end of the time itself. All three dimensions of “the end” operate in the realm of the Marian apparition at Fatima, as we shall come to discover.

After all, as Zimdars-Swartz states, “Fatima… had become a model by which the authenticity of a later apparition might be tested, and those who have seen the later apparitions as authentic have usually understood them as extensions of the mission which the Virgin had inaugurated at Fatima.”[9] Notwithstanding the eschatological ends at which we operate here, it behooves us to explore what makes Fatima a fitting object for study in the first place. On the thirteenth of the month, from May to October, 1917, Our Lady of the Rosary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children in rural Portugal: eleven-year-old Lucia Dos Santos and her nine-year-old cousin, Jacinto Marto, along with her ten-year-old brother, Francesco. As Perry and Echeverria conclude in their sociopolitical study of apparitional phenomena, Under the Heel of Mary:

In the judgement of Professor Diogo Pacheco de Amorim, a leading light in the CADC, Fatima had already become ‘a fact of contemporary history with a projection throughout the world. Not only is it a confirmation of the supernatural and of faith, but it is also a guarantee and testimony of the spiritual unity of the nation. And, as such, no government should ignore Fatima or disassociate itself from its patriotic significance… It is through Fatima that the Portuguese of today learn to be more Portuguese.’[10]

Thus, it goes without question that Fatima is of prime interest to a historian of the Iberian peninsula from a cultural standpoint, let alone from the perspective of Christian eschatology.

Furthermore, Fatima is perhaps most well-known for the patently eschatological phenomena accompanying the alleged prophecies. These phenomena distinguish the apparitions from all others, in that they were observed by tens of thousands for miles round. As Jeffrey Bennett points out in When the Sun Danced:

Walsh interviewed many witnesses to the miracle of the sun who insisted that, at the time, they believed the end of the world had arrived (ibid., 150). These witnesses also noted that even after the apparitions had concluded, many followers continued to scream and cry out, begging God to pardon their sins. In addition, the churches, even outside the town, were reportedly filled within minutes after the apparitions by those who had witnessed the miracle, the implication being that the happening brought about a mass compulsion to formally renew their devotion. For the vast majority of those present, there was no doubt that something truly supernatural had occurred.[11]

As Bennett mentions, “[T]he miracle of the sun was cited time and time again as the single piece of irrefutable evidence that made the children’s claims credible, and the same evidential paradigm applied in Portugal immediately following the incident.”[12]

Fatima would in all likelihood not have achieved the notoriety that it has today – verging as we are upon its centenary – had there not been so very many eyewitnesses who observed a Marian apparition that is typically reserved for the initial visionaries themselves. On October 13, Mary is said to have granted a sign, that all may believe, in the form of the sun hurtling towards Earth with the threat of imminent cataclysm. This fulfilled her promise to the children that, “In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe” (Kindle Locations 2916-2928).[13] While Michael Carroll of Princeton dismisses this vision as nothing more than a mass hallucination in The Cult of the Virgin Mary,[14] Bennett points out how the Bishop of Leira D. Jose Alves Coreia da Silva predictably rejects such a suggestion of auto-suggestion en masse, having written in his pastoral letter that this “phenomenon, which was not registered in any astronomical observatory, and could not therefore, have been of natural origin, was witnessed by people of every category and class, by believers as well [sic] as unbelievers, journalists of the principal daily papers and even by people kilometers away, a fact which destroys any theory of collective hallucination’ (Haffert 1961, 142).”[15] Leopold Sabourin is not so readily convinced: “The so-called ‘miracle of the sun’ appears as a stunning event, but several other examples have been documented in which emotionally charged crowds have seen, even perhaps produced, light phenomena of a cosmic nature.”[16]

Donal Anthony Foley relates in his Marian Apparitions, The Bible and the Modern World, the testimony of Mabel Norton, whose eyewitness description of what came to be known as the “dancing sun” belongs inescapably within the eschatological genre, verging as her language does upon the Book of the Apocalypse: “Then the clouds were pushed back from the sun in every direction, as if by invisible hands, and the sun appeared” and spun around.[17] Such imagery, whether inflated or not, certainly smacks of the Lord coming upon the clouds of Heaven, ripping the fabric of space-time in the process. Furthermore, as Francis Johnston evocatively described it,

What could be more overwhelming in impact than the sun plunging like fire from Heaven while tens of thousands lay writhing in the mud, screaming for mercy, convinced that the end of the world had arrived? At Fatima, we have 100,000 eyewitnesses of all faiths and none, united in their conviction that this indeed was the end of the world. And afterwards, when they found themselves alive and safe, but quivering with fear, they were seized by the realization that God had stamped His Mother’s words with a colossal preview of His Second Coming.[18]

This eschatological imagery is only reinforced by the actual words of Lucia, the last surviving visionary, and it was the eschatological content of her “three secrets” that garnered such a thundering turn-out to a hilltop in rural Portugal in the first place.

Even Lucia’s interviews decades later from a Carmelite monastery prove pregnant with apocalyptic meaning. She repeatedly speaks of secrets to be revealed, and of course, apocalypse is derived from the word to “unveil” in Greek; furthermore, the eschaton pertains to “last things,” wherein all will be revealed. As Zimdars-Swartz points out, the eschatological ramifications of Fatima particularly concern the judgement: “[Father Federico] Lombardi… asked her if she really believed that many would go to hell. Lucia’s reply to this, reportedly, was that, indeed, many were condemned. When he observed that while the world was ‘an abyss of vice’ there was still hope of salvation, she responded, ‘No, Father, many, many are lost.’”[19] She points out that “when God was about to chastise the world, Lucia reportedly told Fuentes, he first offered every means to save it, and when he had seen that these means were not being used, he gave His Mother as ‘the last anchor of salvation.’”[20]

Likewise, on the front cover of his loud and proud The Devil’s Final Battle, Father Paul Kramer cites that same interview with Father Fuentes on the day after Christmas in 1957: “She told me that the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility.”[21] Here, we can see that Lucia firmly believed her century to be the beginning of the end-game, so to speak. Moreover, it is significant that she should predict such a battle to precede the Second Coming of Christ so close to the Feast of His first coming into the world. Zimdars-Swartz quotes Auclair as saying that “since it was by Mary, the Virgin Mother, that Jesus had come at Christmas, so it would be by Mary, Mother of the Church, that Christ the King would come at the final Epiphany in order to reign over all the people.”[22]

As the Apocalypse, the eschaton, the Second Coming of Christ is the second Christmas, it should not surprise the theologically-inclined that the Mother who precedes the Son on Earth precedes Him in the Heavens. Thus, the supposed seer of her apparition, Lucia, echoes Mary’s own fiat and Magnificat in commencing her Memoirs by saying, “I, the least of your handmaids, O my God, now come in full submission to Your Holy Will, to lift the veil from my secret, and reveal the story of Fatima just as it is. No longer will I savor the joy of sharing with You alone the secrets of Your Love; but henceforth, others too, will sing with me the greatness of Your Mercy!”(Foreword of Second Memoir).[23] As much as her account, then, is couched in Incarnational and Marian language, it is also apocalyptic, as it is given to her “to lift the veil,” as it were, over all that has transpired in her life.

The eschatological tenor of Lucia’s experiences with Jacinta and Francisco began from the first. In her Second and Fourth Memoirs, Lucia reports that an angel appeared to the children and bade them, “Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me… My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee” (1342-1345).[24] As Catholic schoolchildren are routinely instructed that the telos, or “end,” of life is “to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with him in the next,” this prayer became the source and summit for the burgeoning interior lives of the children of Fatima, discovering as they could in its words the very purpose for their existence, come what may; namely, to glorify God at all ends and for all intensive purposes. In her heavily Scripturally informed reading of the Fatima apparitions, Marianna Bartold goes so far as to suggest that this angel was none other than Saint Michael himself, heightening the eschatological import of the apparitions, insofar as Michael makes cameos in the prophetic texts of Daniel and Revelation: “Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, historian and expert on the Fatima apparitions, observed ‘that good Portuguese historians are inclined to recognize in him [Fatima’s Angel of Peace] St. Michael the Archangel, their patron and protector, who had always been venerated as the Guardian Angel of their country,’” further adducing that, “Michael is often called the Angel of Peace, especially in the liturgical office of St. Elizabeth of Portugal.”[25]

According to Lucia’s account, the angel then relayed to the children, “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications” (1345-136).[26] Considering the marginal social status the children maintained in that era (or any), we begin to see the degree to which the angelic visitation addresses the end of the individual Christian’s life, and the requisite growth in holiness to obtain the goal which one ostensibly seeks: happy union with God. But, the angel did not stop there. Lucia writes that angel exhorted the following:

Pray, pray very much! The most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High… Make all you do a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you (1352-1357).[27]

In this passage, we clearly see a high theology of redemptive suffering and intercessory prayer being articulated for basically illiterate country youth. It extends the notion of eschaton beyond one’s individual end to include the final ends of one’s neighbors, not to mention the end of the nation itself. That fact alone occasions the many attempts to contextualize Fatima in light of Fascism: “In 1917, the country was embroiled in a struggle which divided its citizens between those who supported the Republican government and those opposed.”[28]

This somewhat abstract notion of reparative suffering becoming concretized when the angel himself distributes the “Bread of Angels” to the children, specifically in reparation for the offenses to the Blessed Sacrament as a cause of the world’s problems, temporal and eternal:

He was holding a Chalice in his left hand, with the Host suspended above it, from which some drops of Blood fell into the Chalice. Leaving the Chalice suspended in the air, the Angel knelt down beside us and made us repeat three times: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly, and I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles throughout the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and those of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners… Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God (1365-1376).[29]

Here, we see a kind of codependency, a divine-human drama, a mutual consolation, develop between the end behind the children’s reception of Communion (to unite themselves with the Trinity in adoration), and Jesus’ end for entrance into the world through Mary (the salvation of poor souls). By the Eucharist, the life of Heaven (the Christian eschaton) is brought to Earth, just as Mary brought Jesus to birth. As Zimdars-Swartz explains, “such a passage is a kind of spiritual journey to Calvary, where… the mother of Jesus… was cut to the heart… to take part… in the work of reparation that was accomplished there.”[30] As Lochet states, “A theology of Our Lady separated from that of the Incarnate Word and the Church would certainly be incomplete and devotion to Our Lady divorced from adoration of Christ as the only Lord and Savior of the world would be an aberration.”[31] This distinctively Christocentric aspect of the apparition is oft-neglected by most Protestant sects.

The words of Mary herself to Lucia echo the angel in bridging the personal and the universal eschaton, particularly with regards to the classic theology of the four last things that Christ came to mediate: death, judgement, Heaven, and Hell. She told the children: “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” (1600-1601).[32] Despite the sound theology behind the messages that Lucia only revealed at a later date, her parents were perhaps more skeptical than any secular historian. Lucia’s mother did not believe in the apparitions even after seeing the dancing sun and being miraculously healed, while her father simply said, “We don’t know if it’s true, but neither do we know if it’s a lie” (1617-1620).[33]

Speaking of Lucia’s parents and their varying degrees of belief, one grace Lucia cares to relate as having been granted at Fatima is that of a young man praying “that a certain young lady would consent to receive him in the sacrament of matrimony” (1666-1667).[34] This is particularly significant in light of the fact that Lucia wrote to Cardinal Carlo Caffara saying, “[T]he final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid, she added, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. And then she concluded: however, Our Lady has already crushed its head.”[35] It is difficult not to see this prediction in the debates over the nature of marriage up unto our own day.

The most eschatological vision of Fatima, however, is not to be found in the dancing sun from Heaven, nor even prayers answered on Earth, but rather in the terrifying description of Hell that Lucia details in her diaries:

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 which 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 repellent 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 dear Heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising us in the first Apparition, to take us to Heaven. Otherwise I think we would have died of fear and terror (2050-2058).[36]

At least according to Lucia’s description, Dante was not far off the mark in his rendering of the infernal reaches, given the constant state of physical and spiritual torture that it is. The untutored Francesco soared to the poetic heights of Dante in contemplation of the Trinity of Paradise, even after having stared straight in the face of Hell. Lucia relates that what “made the most powerful impression on him and what wholly absorbed him, was God, the Most Holy Trinity, perceived in that light which penetrated our inmost souls” (2411-2415).[37]

Indeed, Francesco said, “We were on fire in that light which is God and yet we were not burnt! What is God? We could never put it into words. Yes, that is something indeed which we could never express! But what a pity it is that He is so sad! If only I could console Him!” (2411-2415).[38] His language alludes to the concept of Mary as the Burning Bush, aflame with love yet unconsumed. Francesco, Jacinta, and Lucia herself made it their sole imperative in this life and the next to console their God in order to fulfill the end for which they were created, as Mary and the angel exhorted them, illustrating what Zmidars-Swartz means when she calls a “theology of sacrifice and reparation.”[39] Still, we are operating within the framework of the personal eschaton that awaits each person at death and judgement. We must proceed to what Mary is said to have told the children when she showed them Hell, in order to better understand the full context of the vision.

However, in Lucia’s eyes, Mary did not provide such a daunting problem without a solution, as Lucia goes on to relate in her Fourth Memoir. By honing in on this passage, the three-fold eschatological schema of Fatima will become clearer, encompassing the end of life, the end of an era, and the end of time itself. First, Mary told the children: “You have seen hell, where poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart” (2059-2066).[40] The end here is the end of life and the particular judgement, leading to Hell in this case. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart would foster individual growth in holiness before the end of life and in Purgatory. In his “Theological Commentary on the Third Secret of Fatima,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – then Cardinal Ratzinger – explicates this devotion as “the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and his interior orientation. According to Matthew 5:8, the ‘immaculate heart’ is a heart which, with God’s grace, has come to perfect interior unity and therefore ‘sees God’” (Appendix E, 3626-3639).[41]

Next, Mary connects the state of the individual soul to the state of the state as a whole: “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 reign of Pius XI” (2059-2066). Her prediction was proven correct, with the onset of World War II, and this extends the eschaton to being constitutive of an end of an era. Furthermore, the veil will be torn back in the form of signs in the skies, a convention of the apocalyptic genre: “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” (2151-2162).[42] While most have attributed this simply to the aurora borealis, Lucia wrote to the Bishop saying, “God manifested that sign, which astronomers chose to call an aurora borealis. I don’t know for certain, but I think if they investigated the matter, they would discover that, in the form in which it appeared, it could not possibly have been an aurora borealis” (2151-2162).[43] The presence of signs in the sky – as with the spinning sun at noon-day – extends the eschaton to the universe and time itself, not simply affairs confined to earth.

Thus, Lucia reports that Mary said, “To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart… 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” (2059-2066).[44] No wonder Carmen Irizarry adduces that “Le Monde‘s Jean- Marie Domenach…. called it ‘a devotion which is itself tainted with politics.’”[45] Ratzinger reports that the “vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheistic systems against the church and Christians, and it describes the immense suffering endured by the witnesses of the faith in the last centu- ry of the second millennium. It is an interminable Way of the Cross’ led by the popes of the 20th century.”[46] Communism is the secular political system threatening Catholic religion in this instance, again marking the end of an era, not simply the end of a life, or time itself. However, life and time are still subject to ending in the context of the apparition. Lucia transcribes the following from Mary’s lips: “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” (2059-2066).[47] Thus, it seems that the existence of nations can be as readily extinguished as a human life, but time itself will be subsumed by the love of the Immaculate Heart, in Lucia’s account of future history.

As far as political ramifications are concerned in the present day, readers might be more apt to see Fatima in light of the threat of radical Islam, rather than Communism. In fact, Father Andrew Apostoli quotes the following from the late, great Bishop Fulton J. Sheen to this effect, notwithstanding the latter’s vociferous antipathy towards Communist atheism and the threat it posed to Christians everywhere: “I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too” (2988-2994).[48] As Father Apostoli explains:

In reaching out to the Muslim world, Catholics need to build upon the special respect which the Muslims show to our Lady. For example, she is the only woman mentioned in the Qu’ran. Muhammad said of his daughter Fatima after her death: “You shall be the most blessed of all women in Paradise, after Mary.” Fatima herself is quoted as saying: “I surpass all the women, except Mary.” Archbishop Sheen said that the Muslim veneration of Mary is shown in their believing in her Immaculate Conception as well as in the virgin birth of her son. (2988-2994).[49]

Thus, Fatima’s message still bears relevance in the political climate of the 21st century, almost a century after the apparition first occurred. Indeed, Izirrary has also commented that the word Fatima “harks back to the strife between Moor and Christian: the town took its name from a local Moorish princess who converted and married a Christian prince.”[50]

Despite all the darkness the apparition foretells, Lucia gleans a bit of good news from the Lady: “The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved” (2929-2942). However, James Paul Pandarakalam sees a hitch here, extrapolating that “prevailing spiritual confusion will soon disperse because of the powerful influence of Mary, and that spirituality will grow robustly once again, leading to the promised period of peace, but that peace will be subjected to diabolical assaults resulting in a future chaotic period.” [51] Still, Mary recommends to the children a prayer to ride the tide of history into eternity: “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy’” (2929-2942).[52] This prayer, whispered upon the lips of Catholics everywhere a century hence, embodies a profound eschatological expression of the need for Christ to prepare souls for the particular and general judgement (personal death and the universal eschaton, respectively), that they may go to Heaven instead of Hell.

In Lucia’s Memoirs, we see that the children do not believe they can save anyone else if they have not saved themselves. Their understanding of the apparition is deeply, personally eschatological. All were sobered by the sight of hell, a sight that they could only bear, because Mary had already promised them Heaven. Francesco stopped singing, Lucia stopped dancing, and Jacinta stopped joking. The apparition happened to them so that their own salvation may first be assured. Lucia speaks for each visionary in saying, “she would never forsake me, and… her Immaculate Heart would be my refuge and the way that would lead me to God” (2114-2116).[53] Lucia eloquently states that the “divine Artist will Himself reduce his now useless instrument to the ashes of the tomb, until the great day of the eternal Alleluias” (2239-2242).[54] Finally, in a beautiful pronouncement of eschatological ecstasy, Lucia declares, “And I ardently desire that day, for the tomb does not annihilate everything, and the happiness of eternal and infinite love begins— now!” (2229-2243).[55]









[1] Nicholas Perry and Loreto Echeverria, Under the Heel of Mary (London and New York: Routledge, 1988), 3.

[2] Maurice Ryan, “Fatima, Lourdes, and Medjugorje: A Challenge for Religious Educators.” Religious Education 88, no. 4 (September 1993): 573. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed December 12, 2015).

[3] Father Paul Kramer, ed., The Devil’s Final Battle (Terryville: Good Counsel Publications, 2002).

[4] Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary: From La Salette to Medjugorje (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991).

[5] Louis Lochet, Apparitions of Our Lady: Their Place in the Life of the Church (West Germany: Herder KG, 1960), 86.

[6] Yves Dupont, Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement. (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1973), 33. Accessed December 15, 2015. https://archive.org/stream/CatholicProphecy#page/n5/mode/2up.

[7] Maurice Ryan, “Fatima, Lourdes, and Medjugorje: A Challenge for Religious Educators,” 569.

[8] Ryan, “Fatima, Lourdes, and Medjugorje: A Challenge for Religious Educators,” 566.

[9] Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary, 91.

[10] Nicholas Perry and Loreto Echeverria, Under the Heel of Mary, 193.

[11] Jeffrey Bennett, When the Sun Danced: Myth, Miracles, and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Portugal (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2012), 116-117.

[12] Bennett, When the Sun Danced, 117.

[13]Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[14] Michael Carroll. The Cult of the Virgin Mary: Psychological Origins (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 120.

[15] Bennett, When the Sun Danced, 117.

[16] Leopold Sabourin, “‘Apparitions’: critical comments.” Religious Studies Bulletin 4, no. 3 (September 1984): 167. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed December 11, 2015).

[17] Donal Anthony Foley, Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World (Leominster: Gracewing, 2002), 249.

[18] Marianne Bartold, Fatima: The Signs and the Secrets. Kindle Edition, 86.

[19] Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary, 209.

[20] Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary, 209-210.

[21] Kramer, The Devil’s Last Battle, Foreword.

[22] Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary, 258.

[23] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[24] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[25] Bartold, Fatima: The Signs and the Secrets. Kindle Edition, 4.

[26] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[27] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[28] Maurice Ryan, “Fatima, Lourdes, and Medjugorje: A Challenge for Religious Educators,” 567.

[29] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[30] Zimdar-Swarz, Encountering Mary, 267.

[31] Lochet, Apparitions of Our Lady, 82.

[32] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[33] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[34] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[35] “Rorate Caeli,” http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/06/cardinal-what-sister-lucia-told-me.html.

[36] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[37]Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[38] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[39] Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary, 84.

[40] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[41] Cardinal Ratzinger, “Theological Commentary on the Third Secret of Fatima” in Appendix of Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope by Father Andrew Apostoli (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010). Kindle Edition.

[42] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[43] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[44] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[45] Carmen Irizarry, “Fátima: reflections after the fact.” The Christian Century 84, no. 32 (August 9, 1967): 1016. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed December 12, 2015).

[46] “Vatican issues text of third secret of Fatima.” The Christian Century 117, no. 21 (July 19, 2000): 749-750. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost(accessed December 12, 2015).

[47] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[48] Father Andrew Apostoli, Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010) Kindle Edition.

[49] Father Andrew Apostoli, Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010) Kindle Edition.

[50] Carmen Irizarry, “Fátima: reflections after the fact,” 1017.

[51] James Paul Pandarakalam, “Marian apparitional perspectives on the future of human society.” The Journal For Spiritual And Consciousness Studies 36, no. 4 (October 2013): 187. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed December 12, 2015).

[52] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[53] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[54] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.

[55] Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The Memoirs of Sister Lucia, the Last Fatima Visionary. Kindle Edition.