Despite flaws, picture-filled Fatima books tell compelling story

Despite flaws, picture-filled Fatima books tell compelling story

By Graham Yearley – Catholic News Service – 3.29.2018

[A neo-Fatimist’s review of two recent books on Fatima.  The “flaws” he finds are  “pushing a conservative, almost 19th-century vision of Mary and the devotions accorded her.”  (What is a 21st-century version of Mary and devotions to her?)  He omits Our Lady’s request that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by a specific act of the Pope in union with the world’s Catholic bishops – as well as the miraculous and instantaneous “dry-cleaning” of the rain-soaked and muddied clothing of the 100,000 people at the Miracle of the Sun.  The author has two degrees and is studying for a third (Doctorate in Ministry or D.Min.)  from the neo-Modernist “Ecumenical” Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore (aka the “Pink Palace” according to Michael S. Rose in his book Goodbye, Good Men)! – AQ Tom]

“Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World” by Jean M. Heimann. Tan Books (Charlotte, North Carolina, 2017). 138 pp., $25.95.

“The Miracle and the Message: One Hundred Years of Fatima” by John C. Preiss. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2017). 156 pp., $15.95.

The year 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima. There has been a small deluge of publications to honor the occasion. These two short, picture-filled books show signs of being rushed to publication.

In one, color photographs are scattered throughout the text but not labeled, but listed by page and subject at the end of the book. In the other book, photographs are printed together after the written text. As many of the photographs depict Lucia, the only visionary to live into adulthood, and several popes, it is not hard to guess the subject of most of the pictures. But the reader should not be required to guess.

Most Catholics know the broad outlines of the Fatima story: three peasant children in a remote corner of Portugal had visions of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and she revealed secrets to them. One of those secrets most believe was that a pope would be attacked and would be spared by the intervention of Mary.

The broad outlines obscure the true significance of the seven apparitions that took place in 1916 and 1917.

The three children were Lucia dos Santos, who was 9 at the time of the first three apparitions, and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, age 6 and 8. The first three were apparitions of a young man bathed in light, perhaps an angel. They came in the spring, summer and fall of 1916. They were preparatory visits for the Marian appearances in 1917.

But, in a sense, the first prayer of the angel given in the first appearance is the essential message of Fatima: we should pray constantly and pray for those who do not believe.

On May 13, 1917, Mary appeared to the three children. She asked the children to come on the 13th day of the next five months at the same hour. A month later Mary told the children she wanted to encourage devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. About 70 people came to this June event. On July 13, Mary showed the children a vision of hell and told them she would later ask for the dedication of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. She shared a secret in three parts that the children were not to disclose to anyone.

The first secret was the vision of hell, the second was about the coming of the Second World War and the rise of communism in Russia. The third secret predicted events during the Second World War and the Cold War to follow.

By now word about the three visionaries had spread and 4,000 people came to this appearance. Officials became alarmed as Portugal was now officially a secular state where the practice of religion was discouraged.

The growing attention led officials to kidnap the children, so they would not be in Fatima on Aug. 13. They were released after that day and Mary appeared to the three at a new place on Aug. 19. She promised the children that on Oct. 13, she would create a miracle to prove her appearances. The September visit would attract nearly 30,000 people and she promised again to create a miracle the next month.

On Oct. 13, she bid the children and all the world to pray the rosary regularly and to practice the devotion of reparation on the first Sundays of the month. Mary also requested a chapel dedicated to her at Fatima. An estimated 100,000 people witnessed the miracle of the sun where Mary appeared in brilliant light and the sun zigzagged across the sky and then appeared to be hurtling toward Fatima. Terrified people fell to their knees in the muddy field. The experience lasted 10 minutes.

Only Lucia would hear all the secrets; Jacinta only one. Francisco saw all the apparitions but heard nothing. Mary told the children that Jacinta and Francisco would die soon and only Lucia would live into adulthood. Francisco died the next year in the influenza epidemic of 1918. Jacinta died Feb. 20, 1920, of tuberculosis.

Lucia would continue to have visions of Mary through the 1920s. She became a nun in part to free her from the devouring attention of the press. She never gave an interview and the documents she wrote over several decades were at the request of her superiors. Lucia lived until 2005 and claimed that, by that time, all the secrets had been revealed (she had been accused of withholding some).

Fatima is a fascinating story, but the books seemed to have been published to push a conservative, almost 19th-century vision of Mary and the devotions accorded her. The power of the story of this story lies in the wonder and faith it inspires in the witness of these brave children to the power of faith and prayer.

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4 comments on “Despite flaws, picture-filled Fatima books tell compelling story

  1. I’d say completely pathetic but he did get a few things right. One glaring error is his writing about “first Sundays” when it was the first Saturday of each month for five consecutive months that Our Lady requested upon which to confess, receive, pray the Rosary and spend 15 minutes meditating on one, some or all 15 Mysteries in reparation. Only in cases where confession or Mass were either unavailable or too difficult to obtain due to duties of state, distance, etc. on any of the Saturdays – and only with the express permission of one’s confessor – could the required actions be fulfilled on a Sunday.
    And Lucia Dos Santos did not become a Dorothean sister to escape the media. The bishop of Leiria arranged for her to be educated by the order to which he himself had been chaplain. Our Lady specifically requested Lucia to become well educated as part of the vocation She asked the little girl to accept, as a herald of the devotions of reparation and in which, as a professed religious ( by her own desire, freely pursued ), she would be in extensive correspondence with the pope, a cardinal, a number of bishops and an array of priests for decades to come. All but a very few of those with whom she was in contact did more than punt when it came to meaningful action to rightly inform the entire Church of the dire urgency and stunning promise Our Lady discussed at Fatima and in MANY subsequent visits with Lucia and, now St. Jacinta. Frankly, there never would have been a second world war or a Soviet Empire had Pius XI, who did believe in the authenticity of Fatima, consecrated Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. It would have taken, what? 30 minutes. Instead, tens of millions died..,

  2. It has changed quite a bit since George W. and I were there. I have not heard of any faculty or graduates being arrested lately, so maybe that is progress. What is surprising is that they are letting anyone write about Fatima prophecies.

    There had been a guy from Princeton Theological Seminary teaching biblical languages and supposedly someone from Claremont teaching the Dead Sea Scrolls, but that has been a while. Getting old here.

    Fatima predicted an “era of peace” after Russia spreading the errors of atheistic Communism throughout the world as a chastisement. North Korea is about to settle a “peace” treaty. Has anyone picked up on that yet? Will they stop persecuting Christians?

  3. From Yearley’s recent review of the Bible:
    “The Bible presents is a fascinating story, but the books seemed to have been published to push a conservative, almost 1st-century vision of God and the devotions accorded Him.”

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