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May 6, 2024

Who is Our Lady of Fatima?


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Our Lady of Fatima is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s title given in connection with her apparitions to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, during World War I. Each year we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, which is the first day she appeared to Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto in 1917. Our Lady appeared to the three children once a month over the next six months in 1917, and she continued to appear to Lucia many times after that.

While the story of these apparitions has garnered attention for its secrets, prophecies and miracles, at its heart, the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a simple one: pray.

In her apparitions, Mary asked the children to pray the rosary every day to bring peace to the world, which was at war; she instructed them in devotions, including asking them to add the Fatima prayer (O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy) to the end of each decade of the rosary; and she asked them to make sacrifices and offer their suffering for the salvation of sinners and for the world.

Our Lady of Fatima Timeline

  • 1916: Before Mary appeared to the three shepherd children, they reported that an angel appeared to them three times in 1916.
  • May 13 – October 13, 1917: Mary appeared to the children once each month, instructing them to pray, giving them visions and telling them about the future.
  • October 13, 1917: “The Miracle of the Sun” occurred, in which thousands witnessed the sun “dance” and/or cast off multicolored lights.
  • 1919: Francisco died in the Influenza Epidemic at the age of 10.
  • 1920: Jacinta died in the Influenza Epidemic at the age of 9.
  • 1925: Mary appeared to Lucia, requesting the First Saturdays Devotion (on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, participants go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the rosary, and meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the rosary as an act of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the sins committed against her.)
  • 1929: Mary appeared to Lucia, requesting that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • 1930: The Bishop of Leiria-Fátima approved the visions as “worthy of belief” and the faithful began praying the Fatima Prayer after every decade of the rosary.
  • 1942: Pope Pius XII consecrated the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • 1949: Lucia joined the Discalced Carmelites, taking the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart
  • 1984: Pope John Paul II again consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • 2005: Lucia died at the age of 97.
  • May 13, 2017: Francisco and Jacinta Marto were canonized by Pope Francis – the youngest saints to be canonized without being martyrs.

The 3 Secrets of Fatima

Many people may have heard of the secrets of Fatima. There are three of these so-called secrets which were parts of the message Mary revealed to the shepherd children that were not immediately made public. This is especially true with the third secret of Fatima, which Lucia only revealed when directly ordered to do so by her bishop and was not made public until 1960. The three secrets of Fatima are:

  1. A vision of Hell.
  2. A prediction of the end of World War I and a prediction of the beginning of a worse war (understood as World War II), as well as a call to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a way to bring peace.
  3. A vision of the Pope, along with other bishops, priests, religious and lay people, being killed by soldiers. The Church has taken this not as specific prophesy which has or will come true but, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, a vision speaking “of dangers and how we might be saved from them.” He said, “it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction.”

A Call to Prayer

Our Lady of Fatima urgently desired for all the faithful to pray daily for the salvation of poor sinners and for the whole world, especially with the devotion of the rosary. If you are looking for ways to answer Our Lady of Fatima’s call, OCP offers a wonderful resource for praying the rosary created by the composer Bob Hurd.

A Contemplative Rosary: Leader's GuideA Contemplative Rosary: Leader’s Guide

A Contemplative Rosary can be enriching for an individual as well as a community. You can listen in your car and pray along with the rosary at any time – without taking your hands of the steering wheel. It’s a wonderful way to transform a commute into a time of prayer. A Contemplative Rosary also has a leader’s guide, and a CD-Rom with beautiful religious art to go along with your prayer time. These communal options can be used in a variety of ministerial settings.

We hope that resources like this may instruct the faithful in the riches of the rosary and increase our devotion. Below you will also find a beautiful playlist of Marian songs collected for the centennial of Our Lady of Fatima in 2017. Keep these songs and prayers in mind on May 13 and throughout the Month of Mary. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.