Learning the Fatima Vocabulary

The Catholic world is all a buzz with Fatima.  2017 commemorates the 100th anniversary of Mary’s monthly apparitions to three shepherd children in Portugal from May-October 1917.  Pope Francis will be visiting Fatima in May and this past week the Vatican announced that two of the three visionaries will be canonized during this centennial year.  On your Facebook or Twitter feed, at Church, or on Catholic radio, you might hear talk about Fatima. How good is your Fatima vocabulary?  Here are a few words to familiarize yourself with:

Apparition- The great mystery of heavenly visitations received by a few people throughout the centuries.  The Catholic Church investigates claims of apparitions, also referred to as private revelation, and either approves or denounces them.  Sometimes the Church renders no verdict on the apparition, neither confirming nor denying the supernatural.  It is important to note that since apparitions are private revelation, they add nothing new to the faith, and do not need to be believed by the faithful.  Some people find the messages helpful for living their Christian life.  Other popular approved apparitions include: Guadalupe, Rue de Bac, Lourdes, and Champion (Wisconsin).  The apparitions of Fatima have been approved by the Church.

Fatima– A village in Portugal, now a celebrated Marian shrine welcoming millions of people each year.

The Angelic Apparitions– Fatima is quite popular because of Mary’s apparitions.  In the year preceding the Marian apparitions, the Fatima children received apparitions of the Angel of Portugal, who instructed the children to pray for the conversion of sinners and to make reparation.  The Fatima children received Holy Communion from the hand of the Angel. The angel also taught the children a few different prayers, to learn more, visit this link.

Cova da Iria– The actual location of the apparitions in Fatima.  Today on the Sanctuary grounds this location is set apart as an outdoor shrine with a small chapel commemorating the location of the first apparitions.  The rosary is prayed nightly at the Cova from which a procession on the property with a statue of Our Lady commences.

Francisco and Jacinta Martos- Two of the Fatima visionaries, who died shortly after the apparitions, in 1919 and 1920 respectively.  They will be canonized during the centennial anniversary of the apparitions.

Sr. Lucia– One of the three visionaries, a cousin to the Martos children.  Sr. Lucia was the only seer who lived into the third millennium.  After the 1917 apparitions, she received a few other apparitions, both of Jesus and Mary, in which the First Saturday devotion was further expounded.

Secret/Third Secret- During some apparitions, the visionaries have received “secrets” which are meant for the visionary alone.  In Fatima, the three seers received a secret which had three parts.  The first was a vision of Hell.  The second, was the prediction of WW1 ending, but the possibility of a greater war if Russia and others did not convert.  The third part of the secret revolved around bishops, priests, and consecrated religious going up a mountain, on which they were martyred.  Lucia saw one man, dressed in white, who also was killed.  It was believed the man in white was the Holy Father.  A great controversy ensued around the third part, because it was not released at the appropriate time, but decades later.  It is believed that the attempted assassination of John Paul II was the fulfillment of the third secret, since his assassination occurred on May 13th, the day on which the Fatima apparitions began.  An interview with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, published in book form, addresses “The Last Secret.”

Reparation– A spiritual act by which a person prays to make amends not only for their sins, but the sins of others.  In addition to prayer, a person might offer a small sacrifice or suffering in reparation for sin. Our Lady taught the children to pray the following prayer to make reparation:

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.  Additionally, Mary requested the observance of the First Five Saturdays in reparation for sins against her Immaculate Heart.

First Saturday- During Mary’s 1917 apparitions, she requested the observance of the First Five Saturdays, meaning to commemorate in a special way the first Saturday of each month, for five consecutive months.  The five Saturdays are meant to make reparation for five different offenses against Mary’s Immaculate Heart.  There are certain requirements for observing the five Saturdays, as outlined to Sr. Lucia by Our Lady in 1925- confession, reception of Holy Communion, praying five decades of the Rosary, and keeping Mary company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.  If you would like to observe the First Five Saturdays during the centennial year, you could begin on June and end in October.  Coincidentally, the first Saturday of October is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was the devotion Our Lady promoted and the title by which she revealed herself to the children.

Consecration- During the apparitions, Mary requested the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Even though several popes have consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart, some Fatima followers believe the consecration never officially happened in the way Our Lady requested.  Those ascribing to that belief do not represent the popular opinion of Fatima scholars.  Today, many Catholics makes a form of personal consecration to Jesus through Mary in the spirit of St. Louis de Montfort, who wrote about Marian consecration in True Devotion to Mary.  Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, has popularized Marian consecration in his work, Thirty-Three Days to Morning Glory.

Conversion- Mary consistently asked for the conversion of sinners in her apparitions.  Conversion means to turn towards the Lord, thus turning away from sin.  It means examining our hearts and making a conscious effort to live better the commandments of God and teachings of Jesus.

Rosary- A devotion practiced mainly by Catholics, but there are some Protestants who also pray some form of the rosary.  The most common form of the rosary is the Dominican rosary, as revealed to and promoted by St. Dominic and consists today of 4 sets of mysteries: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious.  During the apparitions in Fatima, Mary requested monthly for the children to pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world.  During the final apparition in October 1917, Mary told the children, “I am the Lady of the Holy Rosary.”

The Fatima Rosary Prayer- To obtain the conversion of sinners, Mary requested the children to pray a special prayer at the end of each rosary decade.  Many Catholics pray this prayer to this day.  O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell.  Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thine mercy.

Miracle of the Sun/Solar Miracle- Throughout the monthly apparitions from May to October 1917, Our Lady promised a miracle during the last apparition.  Many call it the miracle of the sun, because the sun spun in the sky and seemed to be coming towards earth, when it returned to the sky.  This miracle was witnessed by all who were present in Fatima for the final apparition.

These are just few words comprising the vocabulary of Fatima.  If there are other words or concepts about Fatima which you would like defined, leave them in the comments.

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Fr. Edward Looney was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Green Bay in June 2015, and is an internationally recognized Marian theologian, writer, speaker, and radio personality. Author of the best-selling books, A Lenten Journey with Mother MaryA Heart Like Mary’s and A Rosary Litany, he has also written a prayer book for the only American-approved Marian apparition received by Adele Brise in 1859 in Champion, Wisconsin. He currently serves as Administrator of two rural Wisconsin parishes. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram at the handle @FrEdwardLooney.

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