Would world peace be a bigger miracle than the Sun dancing at Fatima? Fatima prayers, along with the rosary, are a part of what has been called Our Lady of Fatima’s Peace Plan from Heaven! The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto (pictured above), six times in 1917 at the Cova da Iria near the town of Fatima in Portugal with messages to bring us closer to God.
The children had experienced supernatural visions the year before when an angel (quite possibly the archangel Michael) visited them three times in 1916. He called himself the Angel of Peace and taught them the first of these Fatima prayers, also known as the Pardon Prayer, that spring:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.
He later referred to himself as the Angel of Portugal and taught them the second of our Fatima prayers covered here in his last appearance that autumn, amazingly, while leaving a Host (the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ) and a golden chalice both suspended in mid-air!
Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit- I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.
The following year, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco first saw Our Lady of Fatima on May 13th, 1917. She appeared to be “more brilliant than the sun,” as Lucia later put it. Indeed, in the second apparition in June she opened her hands to reveal a light so radiant that “we saw ourselves immersed in God,” again according to Lucia.
As World War I raged on, Our Lady asked the children to pray the rosary daily for world peace. She further requested that they bear sufferings in reparation for the many offenses committed against her Son, as well as for the conversion of sinners. She appealed for prayer and penance from all of us as well.
Our Lady of Fatima told the three little shepherds that God wished there to be devotion to her Immaculate Heart for world peace and for the salvation of souls, for our salvation. (With this devotion we imitate Mary’s love for her Son and for humanity as we seek to do His will and to share His love. In uniting our hearts with hers we can better unite them with His as well! ) As she told the children “if what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
She also requested that people pray for the conversion of Russia, and that that country, which was about to undergo a tragic turn towards atheism with the Bolshevik Revolution that autumn, be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.
The following Fatima prayers came from Our Lady herself. When she appeared to the children in July, 1917 she taught them this prayer, to be said when offering up personal sufferings, sacrifices, or acts of penance:
Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
This last of our Fatima prayers followed shortly, after Mary opened her hands and showed the children a terrifying vision of Hell. She then taught them to say this after each decade of the rosary:
Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of Thy mercy.
After Mary’s first appearance to Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, word of the visions spread rapidly. The crowd of curiosity seekers and the genuinely devout increased with reports of each apparition until the final one on October 13th, in which some 70,000 people at the Cova da Iria witnessed what became known as the Miracle of the Sun.
This extraordinary event was chronicled in the press in Portugal soon after, as in the example at right.
Mary, calling herself Our Lady of the Rosary, told Lucia in the midst of all those present that she wished a chapel to be built there in her honor and reiterated again the importance of the rosary and of people amending their lives and asking pardon for their sins.
Suddenly the sun appeared in the sky and started spinning while giving off dazzling rays of multicolored light. Then it hurled towards the earth and for a terrifying few moments people thought it would come crashing down on them! But then, just as suddenly, the sun resumed its normal place in the sky!
Although most people had been sopping wet from the steady rain that had been falling right before our Blessed Mother’s appearance, they found their clothes to be totally dry after that. One newspaper account afterwards proclaimed that the sun “danced” at Fatima!
As Our Lady of Fatima had predicted in her second apparition, Francisco and Jacinta were taken up to heaven soon after, both victims of the influenza outbreak in Europe in 1918. Francisco died in 1919 and his little sister the following year.
They both showed great sanctity in their short lives. Jacinta sought to make whatever penances she could to help save sinners. For his part, Francisco spent much time in prayer to console our Lord for the world’s sins.
As also foretold by the Blessed Mother, Lucy lived for quite a bit longer, helping to spread devotion to Our Lady and her Immaculate Heart as Sister Lucia. (Indeed her memoirs, written after she became a nun, have given us a vivid and accurate portrayal of these momentous events.) She lived to see her cousins beatified in 2000, and passed away in 2005.
On behalf of the church, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima pronounced the apparitions of Fatima as worthy of belief in 1930, and to this day the town attracts many pilgrims to its Basilica.
Sister Lucia later revealed the first two of three secrets of Fatima Our Lady gave her and her cousins. These included a description of Hell and the need for devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart and for Russia’s conversion, mentioned earlier.
In addition, Mary warned of World War II, Communist expansion, great wars and persecutions and the “annihilation of nations” if her requests went unheeded. The third secret was revealed by the Church in 2000 but its contents are the subject of controversy, as spelled out in this website.
So, in summing up, Our Lady’s Peace plan involves our praying the rosary, preferably daily, and offering up our hardships to God for the forgiveness of sins and in reparation to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. (The third of the Fatima prayers mentioned above, the one Our Lady taught for sacrifices is a good one for this, and it’s easy to remember as well!)
In addition, it’s a good idea to say prayers and do penance for other people’s transgressions as well as for our own. In the end, we’re all in this journey towards salvation together!
As Our Lady told Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, after they had seen Hell, “pray a great deal and make many sacrifices, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.”
Keep in mind that your sacrifice can be as simple as giving up some small pleasure, such as a candy bar or an extra helping of food, as the spirit moves you, to make amends for sins. (Acts of charity and forgiveness towards others never hurt either.)
We can also seek to serve our Lord better by imitating His Mother’s virtues and consecrating ourselves to Her Immaculate Heart. Also, if you can, practice the First Saturdays devotion described here. As our Lady said at Fatima “wars are a punishment from God for sin!”
Doesn’t that suggest this passage from the New Testament letter of St. James written almost 2000 years earlier? “Whence do wars and quarrels come among you? Is it not from your passions which wage war within your members? Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded” (James 4:1, 8).
After World War II, when the possibility of “the annihilation of nations” from nuclear war suddenly seemed frighteningly real, Winston Churchill said that “the fulfillment of spiritual duty in our lives in vital to our survival.”
As our civilization stands uneasily close to the precipice of self-destruction through nuclear war or nuclear terrorism, we would do well to pray the rosary and these Fatima prayers in a spirit of reparation for the sins of humanity.
Jacinta told Lucia soon before her death to ask everyone “to plead for peace from the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Lord has confided the peace of the world to her.”
We might also be hope in our devotion that Our Lady’s words to Lucia in June, 1917 might also apply to us as well: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”