When Our Lady of Fatima first appeared in 1917, in addition to her consistent theme and constant calls to pray the Rosary every day, she included vital lessons on the Blessed Sacrament.
Our Lady’s First Apparition
Because heaven doesn’t act coincidentally but presents everything
meaningfully to us, surely there is a providential reason that the date of Our
Lady’s first apparition — May 13 — was also celebrated in some parts of the
Church as the feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. The children
intuitively realized the connection, maybe not because they recognized the
celebration on that date, but based on what happened during the apparition.
Let’s take a closer look.
Much later, describing that appearance in 1917, Lucia would write that Our Lady opened her hands, and from them streamed light “so intense” that it penetrated their “hearts and innermost depths of our souls.”
Realizing it was God “who was that light,” Lucia fell to her knees. So did her cousins Jacinta and Francisco. As Lucia recalls in her memoirs, the trio then began to pray, “O most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!”
It was a variation of the prayer the children had learned during the third visit of the Angel of Peace, who appeared to them in 1916 to prepare these little shepherds for Our Lady’s appearance the following year. The Holy Eucharist was a major part of the preparation. In his left hand, the angel held a chalice with a Host suspended in the air over it. Drops of blood fell from the Host into the chalice.
The angel left the chalice and the Host suspended in the air, knelt, and told the children to repeat three times:
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You 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 by which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.
Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament Must Increase
Already the groundwork was being laid, connecting Jesus in the Eucharist to what His Mother was going to teach at Fatima. But that was not all. The angel said, “Eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ terribly outraged by the ingratitude of men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.” Then he rose and gave Lucia the Host and Jacinta and Francisco the Precious Blood from the chalice. As he did so, he said, “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.”
The following year, during Our Lady’s July 13 apparition, she mentioned the First Five Saturdays devotion, the two major pillars of which are the Communion of reparation and the Rosary.
If that was the situation in 1916–1917, how much more is such a devotion needed today? Through the seers, Our Lady was teaching us, her children, that our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament must increase. And we have to receive the Eucharist worthily. Confession is also one of the requirements of the First Saturdays devotion. This was woven into the beautiful pattern at the October 13 apparition when Our Lady told the children, “People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!”
The first step in amending our lives is to receive the sacrament of Confession and get rid of our sins. And what do we normally do after Confession but go to Mass and receive Holy Communion. Yet so often we forget these major lessons of Fatima and slip up on putting them into practice.
Saints, Fatima, and the Blessed Sacrament
Let’s hear from another source on this connection of Our Lady of Fatima to the Most Blessed Sacrament. Father Bernard Camire of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament draws the connection between Our Lady and the Eucharist in his booklet The Eucharist and St. Peter Julian Eymard. His community’s founder was St. Peter Julian Eymard, who “taught that, at the level of the sacramental life of the Church, Mary helps us to perceive the central place of the Eucharist in our personal life and in the life of the Church.”
Providentially, it was St. Peter Julian Eymard who was first to give Mary the title “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament,” in May 1868. This saint, who had a strong devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to Our Lady, founded the Congregation of the Most Blessed Sacrament on May 13, 1856, and they celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament on May 13.
Pope John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “Mary is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.”
He observed, “If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist. . . . Mary is present . . . at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist.” Just stop and think of that for a moment. Every time we’re at Mass, our Blessed Mother is right there with us.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2008 Message for the World Day of the Sick said, “There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son, generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we perceive, in a mysterious way, in the sacrament of the Eucharist.” There it is again. Read that line over, and put it together with Our Lady of Fatima and what she was telling us in 1917.
There is another link we so often forget, yet that is essential in all of these connections. “Except for Our Lady, we would not have the Holy Eucharist. It was only because she became the Virgin Mother of the Son of God that we have the Holy Eucharist,” explained Father John Hardon. “The Eucharist is the living Jesus Christ. . . . It is because Mary gave her Son his body and blood that we now have the Eucharist.”
The Hidden Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
The three Fatima seers came to realize the connection and became models of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. During his final illness, Francisco said what hurt him most was that he couldn’t go to the church “and stay awhile with the Hidden Jesus.” It was his favorite name for Jesus in the Eucharist, hidden in the tabernacle. Francisco, who received and lived the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, had become very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, spending hours on end before the tabernacle to console the Hidden Jesus.
He teaches us something of significant importance connected with Fatima through his love for the Blessed Sacrament and the time he spent before the Hidden Jesus. As Father Frederick Miller observes, “Obviously, the practice of Eucharistic reparation is another component of the Fatima catechesis and an important lesson for our time.”
In 1919, at age eleven, Francisco died at home peacefully, despite suffering terribly from the influenza epidemic of 1918. His greatest wish, to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, was granted the day before he died. Although he had received from the chalice that the angel offered him in 1916 before Our Lady appeared the following year, this was his First Holy Communion. With his devotion to the Hidden Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and having died on the day after he received his First Holy Communion, Francisco might be thought of as a saint of the Eucharist.
As for Lucia, about four years before the apparitions of the angel, she had already received her First Holy Communion. Her parish priest had given permission because the six-year-old Lucia already had a profound ability to express the doctrine of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.
Jacinta, like her brother, also used the affectionate name “Hidden Jesus” at times. When she was very ill, Lucia brought her a picture of the Blessed Sacrament. “It is the Hidden Jesus,” Jacinta exclaimed. “I love Him so much. If only I could receive Him in church. Don’t they receive Holy Communion in heaven? If they do, then I will go to Holy Communion every day. If only the angel would go to the hospital to bring me Holy Communion again, how happy I would be.”
Lucia also recorded these words of St. Jacinta: “I am so grieved to be unable to receive Communion in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” We should all take a lesson from Jacinta and frequently offer up our Communions in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Think of the connection between Our Lady and the Eucharist in this way, too. If someone treated your mother kindly and wanted to make up for some hurt she had suffered, wouldn’t you be overjoyed? And wouldn’t Jesus’ reaction be magnified beyond that more times than we can realize?
This article is adapted from a chapter in The Fruits of Fatima: A Century of Signs and Wonders. It is available as an ebook or paperback from Sophia Institute Press.