Tag Archives: fatima

WHAT TO SEE: What the children saw

Harvey Keitel, Stephanie Gil, Goran Visnjic, Sônia Braga, Joaquim de Almeida
100 min • Not Rated

The familiar story of the 1917 appearances of the Virgin Mary to three young shepherd children in Portugal receives a beautiful big-screen treatment in the new 2020 drama Fatima, scheduled for release to theaters everywhere on April 24.

It’s an immensely satisfying film in that it conveys the incredible events and the reported messages from Mary with simplicity and sincerity. The children are portrayed with delightful realism, their families and townspeople believably exhibit various degrees of bewilderment and credulity, and the Virgin radiantly regards her young subjects with obvious deep love and even a little amusement. To the film’s credit, the apparitions and miracles are not given a Hollywood special-effects treatment, which surprisingly makes these scenes that much more moving.

Although Our Lady of Fatima is an approved devotion and has borne great fruit in the lives of many of the faithful, as private revelation there is no obligation for Catholics to believe in the Fatima apparitions or their related messages. In interspersed scenes set in a convent many decades later, Fatima gives voice to the skeptics in the person of an unbelieving journalist who visits Sister Lucia in her cloister to interview her for a book he is writing. The saintly nun answers his objections with grace and cordiality, even if unsatisfyingly in some instances.

Even if one finds the story of Fatima and its “miracle of the sun” too incredible to accept, the historical record is clear: something wonderful happened here, witnessed not only by three shepherd children but also by tens of thousands of onlookers, and something wonderful continues to happen in the hearts and lives of those who respond positively to the Virgin of Fatima’s call — to turn away from sin, to devote oneself to her Immaculate Heart, and to pray the rosary for peace in the world and the salvation of souls.

Make the effort to take your family to see this movie when it comes to your local theater this Easter season.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.


St. Francisco Marto (1908-1919)

Feast Day: February 20
Canonization: May 13, 2017

Francisco de Jesus Marto was one of three Portuguese shepherd children of Fatima who witnessed several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in 1917.

At the time, Francisco was eight; his sister, Jacinta, was seven; and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, was 10. According to Lucia’s later memoirs, Francisco was placid, musically talented, and relished being alone in prayer.

Our Lady asked them to pray the rosary daily and make sacrifices for sinners’ conversion; she also showed them the reality of hell. On October 13, 1917, some 70,000 people gathered at the apparition site and saw “the Miracle of the Sun” – when it ‘danced’ in dazzling color toward earth.

Francisco and Jacinta died from the 1918 European influenza epidemic. Francisco declined hospital treatment and died at home with a glow on his face on April 4, 1919. He was almost 11. Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia are buried at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima. Pope Francis canonized the Marto siblings on May 13, 2017, the first centennial of the first Fatima apparition.

Hell – real-time risk for the obstinate

One day one of the girls of Fatima asked Our Lady: “Could a condemned soul repent? Could God take him from hell and put him in paradise?” Our Lady responded: “Oh yes, He could, but they do not wish it!”

When one persists in evil, nothing can be done. I once asked a demon, “But you, if you could go back, would you do the same thing? Don’t you see that, before, you were happy in Paradise and now you are damned to Hell?” “You don’t understand me,” he answered. “I have the strength and courage to rebel against God! Therefore, I am superior to Him!”

When a being believes that disobeying and sinning against God makes him superior to God, nothing can be done.

It is impossible for a damned soul, a soul already in Hell, to be saved. It is impossible.

All the conceivable attempts to convert him have already been offered to him by God. Saint Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God wishes everyone’s conversion, and then one sees so many perverse people to whom everything is given, and everything goes well: they have health, financial success, and friends. Everything goes smoothly. In addition, God gives them opportunities to convert while they are on earth: afterward there are no more chances. What has been done has been done!

We have no idea whether a condemned soul becomes a demon in every way or remains “chained.” We have so many descriptions of Hell given by saints who have had the grace to see it. They give different descriptions but always speak of atrocious sufferings.

For example, regarding solitude, I once asked a demon: “If two people hated each other until death and found themselves together in Hell, would they continue to hate each other?”

He responded, “Don’t you understand that each soul in Hell thinks only of himself? He does not look at others. He is focused solely on his own suffering. He makes light of the suffering of all others.”


Hell is reserved for those who refuse the mercy of God up to the last instant, because God offers the possibility of conversion up to the last instant.

Excerpt taken from Father Amorth: My Battle Against Satan, by Fr. Gabriele Amorth (with Elizabeth Fezzi), Sophia Institute Press, 2018. From Part I entitled “The Last Conversations,” pp. 70-72. www.sophiainstitute.com.

Late priest of the Congregation of San Paolo, FR. GABRIELE AMORTH (1925-2016) was recognized as the world’s greatest exorcist. His mission of expelling Satan through incessant dedication earned the gratitude of thousands, and esteem of the highest Church authorities. He wrote many works, and hosted a popular radio program on Radio Maria.

Fatima checks Catholic-leader authenticity

A few years ago, I helped several people put a business deal together. One of them was a rather prominent Catholic businessman. During the process, he acted in ways that raised a few eyebrows. His behavior spawned questions about both his ethics and his values. A long time personal friend of his was also involved in the deal. During a side conversation, I asked the friend if the businessman was, indeed, the good Catholic he was reputed to be. The response was, “Yes, he’s a really good Catholic. But when it comes to business, he just thinks business is business.”

Dick Lyles

As CEO of Origin Entertainment, I’ve been working for the better part of the past decade to bring our movie Fatima to the global audience. We’re telling the story from the point of view of the three shepherds to vividly show what they experienced in the context of the times. I knew it was an amazing tale before we started the project, but had no clue about how amazing the story actually is. Of particular interest to me has been the transformative impact of the events on the shepherds as they happened.

Like many people, I viewed the story as being somewhat linear. An angel told the shepherds to get ready for something big. Our Lady appeared. The word got out. The kids were hassled by a lot of unwanted attention as Our Lady appeared five more times, until 70,000 people witnessed The Miracle of the Sun. Oh, if it were all that simple.

In particular, the events of August 1917 sparked my interest because of the profound changes those events had on the character and attitudes of the shepherds. August was the only month when the apparitions didn’t occur on the 13th. August was the month the local administrator arrested them, put them in jail, and threatened them to death by boiling them in oil if they didn’t disavow their story. They were eventually released and the August apparition took place on the 19th. But from that time forward, the shepherds had a completely different demeanor. They became almost indifferent to the crowds and the activities surrounding them and focused almost entirely on praying, doing penance, and getting the message out. Their commitment to Our Lady’s message was unequivocal.

Ironically, Father Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R., who is one of the world’s leading authorities on Fatima, and I discussed all this over lunch on August 12 of this year, which was the hundredth anniversary of the children’s arrest. Father Apostoli believes that through those events the children became living martyrs, having satisfied the criteria for martyrdom. Without starting a major debate about martyrdom, if martyrdom largely consists of “the voluntary enduring or tolerating of death on account of one’s faith,” then during this period of incarceration, the children certainly crossed this threshold, even if those who threatened them did not ultimately carry out the threats. It can be argued that by agreeing to die for what they believed, they achieved martyrdom.

Whether or not the shepherds crossed the threshold of martyrdom, history makes it clear that through these specific events, they crossed a threshold of maturity in their faith that only a few have achieved. They internalized the words of Our Lady in a deeply profound manner. They became almost indifferent to the taunting, crowd noise and conversation around them and became singularly focused on living the mission for which they had been called.

All this begs an important question in my mind regarding Catholics in business. Aren’t we also called to internalize Catholic teaching and behave accordingly in everything we do? Few are ever called to martyrdom through their business activities. But all business people are called to be authentic Catholics in all we do, no matter who we’re dealing with or what the circumstance.

Heaven didn’t call upon Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta to be its messengers so they would cave in to worldly pressures, no matter how severe. Nor has God called Legates and their spouses to the business world so they could suspend their Catholicity in the name of business. We may never have to test our faith by facing the same call to martyrdom as did the shepherds, but we all are tested every day by more mundane challenges to put our faith aside in the pursuit of business objectives. We must view each of those challenges as a way to strengthen rather than weaken our faith in the spirit of Fatima.

DICK LYLES is CEO of Origin Entertainment, a Hollywood film company wrapping up production  of FATIMA, slated for 2018 release. He’s a prolific, award-winning author of nine books; host of “The Catholic Business Hour” radio show,; and was past membership chairman and president of the San Diego Chapter.

Fatima Message @ 100: More Relevant Than Ever

Rife with enough secrets, visions and warnings to fill a riveting suspense novel, the story of Our Lady of Fatima has captivated Catholics and others for a century.

Wake-up call

As the Church celebrates this month the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, the messages she gave to three heroic peasant children seem as relevant as ever in a modern age marked by societal upheaval and uncertainty about the future.

“It’s definitely a message for our time and it’s a challenging message in many ways,” said Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, author of two new books, Our Lady of Fatima: 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions (Servant) and Our Lady’s Message to Three Shepherd Children and the World (Sophia Institute Press). “The Blessed Mother spoke about warnings and what would happen if we didn’t change our ways.”

“If the Fatima anniversary were 40 years off, people would not pay a great deal of attention to it, thinking they have plenty of time,” added Father Andrew Apostoli, whose book, Fatima for Today (Ignatius Press), thoroughly examines the apparitions. “However, now that the anniversary is here and, looking at the world situation as it is, people are taking it as a wake-up call.”

For example, Father Apostoli said, Mary spoke of war in 1917 during World War I, but the fear of another war is just as real today. She also cited Communism as a threat to western Christian civilization, saying it would begin in Russia and spread its errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. “This is especially true with regard to the family and what God intended for each individual, for families and for the world,” Father Apostoli said. “Today, a form of communism is seen in the teaching of gender ideology which ultimately undermines the Judeo-Christian concept of men and women as creatures of God with inherent dignity.”

Despite the serious nature of the Fatima messages, they were entrusted to three unlikely visionaries – two young siblings and their cousin who were tending sheep on a hillside on May 13, 1917, when they saw a flash of lightning and a “lady dressed in white.” The children had been prepared for the vision the previous spring by an “Angel of Peace,” who appeared to them three times, telling them to pray and offer sacrifices in reparation for sins against God and for the conversion of sinners. The angel also taught them two prayers, one known as the “Pardon Prayer” and the other focused on the Eucharist.

Serious revelation and admonition

Later, the lady who appeared to the children echoed and expanded upon the angel’s messages. Saying she was from heaven, she promised to return to the apparition site on the 13th of each month at the same time for the six successive months. In the subsequent apparitions, she asked the children to pray the rosary daily for world peace and to bear their sufferings in reparation for offenses against God and for the conversion of sinners. She also shared with them three “secrets,” the last of which was revealed in 2000 when two of the children, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, were beatified. Although other aspects of the Fatima apparitions, such as the “miracle of the sun” that occurred on Oct. 13, 1917, and Mary’s request that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, often get more attention, her admonition to pray the rosary and to pray for sinners forms an important part of the Fatima message, Cooper O’Boyle said. “We live in a culture that teaches us to think about ourselves and does not encourage us to think about sinners. Mary’s message teaches us to make sacrifices for sinners, to offer penance and pray the daily Rosary. She said so many go to hell because they have no one to pray for them.”

David Carollo, executive director of the World Apostolate of Fatima USA, founded as the Blue Army, said at the heart of the Fatima message is a call to live in accordance with the Gospels.

The children, he said, were shown a vision of hell and asked if they were willing to offer their lives so that others would avoid such a fate. “That’s what we’re taught. We have to save our own souls, but we also have an obligation to work for the salvation of others.”

Carollo agrees with Pope St. John Paul II that the Fatima message is even more important today than in 1917. He said it is significant that both of John Paul’s successors share his deep devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis, in fact, has consecrated his pontificate to her and will visit Fatima May 12-13 for the centenary, when he is expected to preside over the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta, who died at the ages of 10 and 9, respectively. A second and final miracle required for their canonization was approved March 23.

Meanwhile, the cause of their cousin, Servant of God Sister Lucia, who died in 2005, is currently underway.

Assurance of consecration, Rosary’s power

During her life, Sister Lucia urged people to concentrate on Mary’s message instead of focusing on the more phenomenal aspects of the apparitions. Still, many persist in questioning whether all the secrets have been revealed and whether the consecration to Russia was properly fulfilled.

Father Apostoli said Sister Lucia, who was told by Mary that she would live longer than her cousins in order that she might spread the message of Fatima, stated before her death that no more secrets remained and that everything had been revealed. Sister Lucia also said that heaven accepted the consecration of Russia by Pope St. John Paul II in 1984.

Carollo said when he is questioned about the consecration during radio and television appearances, he reiterates what Sister Lucia said and declines to argue with those who will not accept it, instead advising them to heed Mary’s call to holiness and to pray and make reparation for sin. “First and foremost, we have to do those things. I would say focus on that. It’s common ground for all of us and that’s what our job is. She didn’t say to question the Pope. She said always pray for the Holy Father and the bishops.”

As the Fatima centenary nears, there also has been heightened interest in a letter Sister Lucia wrote to Cardinal Carlo Caffara as he was establishing the Pontifical Institute for the Studies on Marriage and the Family. In the letter, Sister Lucia said the final battle between the Lord and Satan would be about marriage and the family.

Cooper O’Boyle, who will be leading a pilgrimage to Fatima with Father Apostoli in September, said Sister Lucia’s message is not surprising considering how the definition of marriage is being challenged and changed. “It’s just all around us, this attack on the family and on marriage . . . The final battle could be a century long, we don’t know. But we know we’re engaged in spiritual warfare, we need to put on our armor, have a strong foundation of prayer and follow Our Lady of Fatima’s instructions. She said the rosary is powerful enough to stop wars. We need to take the time and do what she asked us to do.”

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

The Three Secrets

The Fatima Visionaries were given three “secrets” by the lady who appeared to them. The last was revealed in 2000.

1. The children are shown a vision of hell and told to encourage devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart for the salvation of souls and peace. A worse war [than WWI] is predicted if people do not cease offending God.

2. Mary asks that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, and for reparation through receiving Communion on the first Saturdays of each month. If this is done, she promises the conversion of Russia and a period of peace for the world.

3. The children see a vision in which a bishop dressed in white is killed by soldiers firing bullets and arrows. After his attempted assassination, Pope St. John Paul II read this third secret, concluding that “a mother’s hand” had redirected the path of the bullet, saving him.

Fatima Phenomena – Timeline of related events

Spring, 1916: An “Angel of Peace” appears three times to Francisco Marto, his sister, Jacinta, and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos while the three are tending sheep on a hillside.

May 13, 1917: The children see “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun.” She tells them to return each month for the next six months on the 13th day at the same hour.

July 13, 1917: The lady promises to perform a miracle in October for all to see and believe.

Oct. 13, 1917: After the apparition, crowds witness “the miracle of the sun,” in which the sun appears to dance, swirl and descend toward Earth.

April 4, 1919: Francisco Marto dies.

Feb. 20, 1920: Jacinta Marto dies.

Oct. 24, 1925: Lucia enters the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Spain and continues to receive private revelations about the Fatima message.

May 31, 1949: Lucia makes her profession as a Discalced Carmelite, taking the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.

May 13, 1982: Pope John Paul II consecrates the world to Mary at the Fatima shrine, a year after he was shot and wounded by an assassin. He credits the Immaculate Heart of Mary with his survival.

March 25, 1984: Pope John Paul II consecrates the world, “especially the peoples for which by reason of their situation you have particular love and solicitude,” to Mary, fulfilling her request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

May 13, 1989: Jacinta and Francisco are declared “venerable.”

May 13, 2000: Jacinta and Francisco are beatified.

Feb. 13, 2005: Sister Lucia dies at the Carmelite Convent in Portugal.

How does the Church approve an apparition?

Al Kresta writes that investigations are empirical, rational, moral, and theological . . .

Al Kresta

Al Kresta

When there is credible evidence of an apparition, the Church engages in empirical, rational, moral, and theological investigation. From the beginning, the Church assumed responsibility for investigating unusual supernatural phenomena.

The local bishop usually has the task of investigating allegedly supernatural claims, and his is normally the last word as far as the Church is concerned. While the pope can overturn the judgment, he is unlikely to do so unless there are some extenuating circumstances.

The bishop looks at three basic areas: the content of the message; the means by which the message was transmitted, such as trances, ecstasies, voices, visions, and so on; and the character of the spiritual fruit displayed in the life of those influenced by the message.

He might assemble a commission to investigate. He may close the apparition site for a while and call in experts in moral and dogmatic theology, forensic pathology, optics, photography, medicine, abnormal psychology, chemistry — even meteorology, if weather conditions significantly played into the claims. Can this phenomenon be explained away as natural or perhaps even diabolical?

The investigators interview the seers. Is there evidence of hallucination, grandiosity, schizophrenia, or self-delusion? Inquiries regarding the character of the visionaries are made among their friends, families, acquaintances, spiritual directors, and pastors — as well as those who have attended any public sessions where supernatural manifestations allegedly occurred. Devotion, however, is no guarantee that a revelation is authentic.

The investigators gauge the moral and spiritual impact on the seers and the proponents of the apparition. They pore over any alleged messages from Christ, Mary, or the saints to see whether these messages contradict Scripture or Sacred Tradition.

It’s important to keep special supernatural manifestations in perspective. Saint John of the Cross wryly observed, “One act done in charity is more precious in God’s sight than all the visions and communications possible — since they imply neither merit nor demerit — and many who have not received these experiences are incomparably more advanced than others who have had many.” Normally, the local bishop’s disapproval buries the claim. In the case of St. Joan of Arc, however, the bishop’s decision was reversed. The apparitions at Medjugorje (since 1981) have faced strong and repeated rejection by local bishops. Other prominent theologians and churchmen, however, have disputed the bishop’s judgment. A definitive decision in this case is probably far off.

After looking at all the facts, the bishop’s commission may conclude that these particular private revelations are “probable.” Usually that’s about as much “approval” as they will give. Nobody is required to believe these apparitions. The approval of a private revelation may simply be “negative” — that is, there is nothing against faith and morals in the revelation or the phenomena emanating from it. It is “worthy of belief” and people are free to believe it.

AL KRESTA is CEO of Ave Maria Communications and host of Kresta in the Afternoon. Reprinted with permission from his book “Why Do Catholics Genuflect?” St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2001.

Catechism 101

The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 66, 67

Bl. Francisco (1908-19) & Jacinta Marto (1910-20)

Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto are the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified . . .

Bl. Francisco & Jacinta Marto

Bl. Francisco & Jacinta Marto

Feast Day: Feb. 20
Beatified: 2000

Like her Son, the Blessed Mother has an “option for the poor.” God had given her three secrets for the world. She chose to deliver them not to kings, presidents or CEOs, but to three peasant children who tended sheep in the countryside near Fatima, Portugal. In 1917, on the thirteenth day of each month from May to October, Our Lady appeared to Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the youngest members of their family, and their cousin, Lúcia dos Santos (1907–2005).

The first secret terrified the children with a vision of hell. In the second, Mary predicted World War II and called for prayer and penance for peace — and the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. The third secret, not made public until 2000, prophesied the persecution of Christians and the failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.

Francisco and Jacinta were typical children. Jacinta loved to dance to the music of Francisco’s flute. They both enjoyed games, nature and animals. Francisco played practical jokes. Jacinta sometimes pouted when she didn’t get her way. But Mary’s apparitions transformed them. They became serious intercessors.

In 1918, both children contracted influenza and patiently offered their suffering for the conversion of sinners and for Mary’s intentions for the world. The outbreak turned into a pandemic, killing millions. Both children lingered for months, insisting on walking to church to make Eucharistic devotions and prostrating themselves to pray for hours, kneeling with their heads on the ground.

Francisco received his First Communion just before he died on April 4, 1919. Jacinta died 10 months later. Pope John Paul II beatified them on May 13, 2000. They are the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Catholic Church.

This column is produced for Legatus Magazine by Bert Ghezzi (bertghezzi.com). He writes and speaks frequently about saints. Ghezzi’s books include “Voices of the Saints,” “Mystics and Miracles,” and “Saints at Heart.”

The 13th Day: The True Story of Fatima

Shot mostly in black & white, this has been called the best Fatima movie ever made . . .

13th-dayThe 13th Day: The True Story of Fatima
Starring Jane Lesley, Michael D’Cruze, Filipa Fernandes
On DVD, Not Rated, 85 min.

Based on the memoirs of the oldest Fatima seer, Lucia dos Santos, the film dramatizes the true story of three young shepherds who experienced six Marian apparitions in 1917, which culminated in the Miracle of the Sun on Oct. 13.

Abducted from their homes, thrown into prison and interrogated under the threat of death in an attempt to silence them, the children remain true to their story about the crucial messages from Mary of prayer, repentance and conversion.

Order: Amazon