Tag Archives: Our Lady

Our Lady safeguards our success through these times

In these bewildering days when even the most devout are confounded by circumstances and sense that society – even the Church – is careening out of control, it is comforting to know what Our Lady said centuries ago specifically about these times.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

In the early 17th century, a Conceptionist nun in Quito, Ecuador – now known as Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres – received seven apparitions from the Blessed Mother which describe precisely our present turmoil. The apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success were approved by the bishop of Quito then and many bishops since, yet most modern Catholics have not heard of them until now.

Beginning with her message to Mother Marianna in 1610, Our Lady said: “… from the end of the 19th century [until] after the middle of the 20th century … the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs, for Satan will reign almost completely by means of Masonic sects. They will focus on children … to sustain this general corruption.”

Our Lady warned that all seven sacraments would be attacked, and difficult to obtain. “Seldom will [children] receive … Baptism and Confirmation. As for Penance, [children] will confess only while attending Catholic schools, which the devil will do his utmost to destroy by means of persons in authority.” She said Holy Communion would be profaned, and sacrileges would abound. Extreme Unction [Sacrament of the Sick] would be little esteemed among Catholics, and many would die “without receiving this sustenance for the final journey.” She said “Masonry would enact iniquitous laws [to] do away with the Sacrament of Matrimony, “making it easy for everyone to live in sin, and encouraging procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church.”

“The effects of secular education … will [accelerate] the death of priestly and religious vocations,” she said. “The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed, and despised, for in this sacrament, the Church of God and even God Himself is scorned and despised since He is represented in His priests.”

Then she describes priestly persecution. “The Devil will … persecute [priests] in every possible way; he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from … their vocation and will corrupt many of them. These depraved priests, who will scandalize the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic Church fall upon all priests. This apparent triumph of Satan will bring enormous suffering to the good Pastors of the Church.” She said the priests left to uphold the Church will be “like firm columns, will remain unswerving, and will confront everything with a spirit of humility …”.

Finally, when evil will seem to have prevailed, she said “this will mark the arrival of my hour, when I in a marvelous way, will dethrone the proud and cursed Satan, trampling him under my feet and fettering him in the infernal abyss. Thus, the Church … will be finally free of his cruel tyranny.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Priest presents largest relics collection – with piece from Cross, Mary’s veil


Father Carlos Martins, a Companions of the Cross priest, will be bringing the world’s largest collection of saints’ relics – outside those at the Vatican – to the 2020 Legatus Summit.

Father Martins has been running the Treasures of the Church ministry for more than 23 years, and presents 200 to 250 expositions each year around the world. Numerous conversions and healings have been reported from people who have encountered the relics of some of the Church’s greatest saints.

In an interview with Legatus magazine, Father Martins described his ministry and the spiritual value of relics. More information is available on his website, www. TreasuresOfTheChurch.com.

What will you be presenting at the 2020 Legatus Summit?

I bring a Vatican exhibit of approximately 150 relics, including those of St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina Kowalska. The supreme highlight is one of the largest certified relics of the True Cross in the world, and a piece of the Veil of Our Lady. The Vatican grants for all in attendance a special plenary indulgence which it has attached to Treasures of the Church. I will be explaining that indulgence and how to obtain it as part of the event.

What is Treasures of the Church?

Treasures of the Church is a ministry of evangelization. Its purpose is to give people an experience of the living God through an encounter with relics of his saints in the form of an exposition. I begin each exposition with a presentation and teaching on relics which provide the catechetical and spiritual basis for, what I call, the Walk with the Saints that follows the presentation. The point of the teaching is to present the basic Gospel message of Jesus Christ: that God is here right now, and wants to be encountered; He touches us through the lives and the sacred remains of His saints.

What have been the responses to your ministry?

God never disappoints … He always “shows up.” There are healings at every exposition. Thousands have been reported to me over the decades. I have seen cancer, heart disease, tumors, osteoporosis, physical deformities, etc., disappear immediately and completely. Though a great number of miracles have been physical, the most spectacular are the healing of faith where a new and deeper relationship with God and His saints are formed in the faithful. It is a most wonderful thing to see a parish, school, or prison renewed after an exposition. That is the reason why I have this ministry.

How did you acquire your collection of saints’ relics?

I work with the Holy See, thus acquiring relics for the ministry is part of my job. The Vatican is “relic central.” The collection changes regularly. Relics are swapped in and swapped out, depending upon such things as where in the world the ministry will be. If certain saints are particularly beloved in a certain part of the world, I will try to include their relics on that particular tour.

What spiritual value do relics have for Catholics?

The veneration of relics is a communion with the heroes of our Christian faith, asking for their powerful intercession. As St. Paul tells us, they are members of the Body of Christ. One day, the very remains that we are looking at within a particular reliquary will be resurrected and re-united with the soul of its saint. Nevertheless, that soul, who is even now beholding God face to face, is just as present to their mortal remains here and now. In some sense, one can say that the closest you can get to a saint is through their relics. And people are very touched by that reality.

Any other thoughts?

Attendees are encouraged to bring their articles of devotion (such as rosaries, holy cards, etc.) and pictures of ill friends/family members which may be touched to the reliquaries as a means of intercessory prayer.

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.

Venerable Father Nelson Baker’s road to victory… paved with the power of Our Lady

Every morning after Mass, Monsignor Paul Burkard stops by Venerable Father Nelson Baker’s tomb at Our Lady of Victory Shrine and Basilica in Lackawanna, New York.

Miracles worldwide – one still needed for beatification

Monsignor Burkard, who retired this past summer as pastor and rector of the basilica, said he still receives countless letters and phone calls from people across the world who tell him of miracles and favors granted through Father Baker’s intercession. A man from Hawaii called in late August to report a miraculous healing.

“That’s not uncommon,” Monsignor Burkard said.

For most of his 60-year priesthood – which encompassed the last two decades of the 19th century up until the Great Depression – Father Baker was considered a living saint in Western New York. Drawing on a solid business acumen and apostolic zeal, Father Baker fed the poor, sheltered the homeless, cared for orphans and unwed mothers, and built a beautiful shrine to his patroness, Our Lady of Victory.

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI declared Father Baker to be Venerable. The Vatican is now reviewing a reported miracle said to have been granted through Venerable Baker’s intercession. If the miracle is approved, it will pave the way for his beatification.

When the Vatican approved the positio – a formal brief arguing for a candidate’s canonization – in Father Baker’s cause, Monsignor Burkard said Church officials commented on his charity toward the poor and needy, especially vulnerable children.

“His legacy, and I think the reason he’s being considered for sainthood, is his extraordinary care for the poor, and particularly poor children,” Monsignor Burkard said.

Venerable Baker’s life story is fascinating not only for his apostolic deeds and longevity — he was feeding the poor during the Great Depression when he was well into his 90s — but also because he was already an established businessman and a Civil War veteran before he entered the seminary at age 27.

“He was probably 15 years older than most seminarians at that time,” Monsignor Burkard said.

Born Lutheran, Catholic at 10, soldier at 19

Born on Feb. 16, 1842, Venerable Baker grew up the second of four sons to a Lutheran father and Catholic mother in Buffalo, New York. He was baptized in his father’s church, but he felt drawn to his devout Catholic mother’s faith, and was re-baptized in the Catholic Church when he was 10 years old.

After graduating high school, Venerable Baker joined his father and older brother in working in the family’s general store in downtown Buffalo. He was settling into that life when the Civil War broke out in 1861. Two years later, after Gen. Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army invaded southern Pennsylvania, Venerable Baker enlisted with the 74th New York Regiment. His unit boarded a train for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“They did some work there at the end of the Battle of Gettysburg,” said Monsignor Burkard, who added that Venerable Baker’s unit was almost immediately sent to New York City to quell the draft riots that had broken out there.

“Historians tell us he probably saw more action in New York City than he did at Gettysburg,” Monsignor Burkard said.

Returning home to Buffalo, Venerable Baker settled back into his old routine in his father’s store. He took advantage of a subsequent opportunity to go into business with a friend. Together, they founded a successful grain and feed business.

Helping Catholic orphans, prompted toward priesthood

Venerable Baker donated his money and free time to supporting a local Catholic orphanage. According to his biography, he thought of becoming a priest, but figured he was too old and lacked the proper schooling to prepare him for seminary. That changed after a providential encounter with the priest-administrator of St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Limestone Hill, New York. The priest promised to recommend him for admission to the seminary.

In September 1869, Venerable Baker entered Our Lady of the Angels Seminary in Buffalo. While still a seminarian, he joined an American pilgrimage group to Europe. The group stopped at a church in Paris, where Venerable Baker knelt down before a statute of Our Lady of Victory.

 Valor from Our Lady of Victory

“He spiritually took her on as the patroness for the rest of his life,” Monsignor Burkard said. “From that point on, he regarded her as the impetus for everything he did in terms of his future ministry.”

Venerable Baker was ordained a priest on March 19, 1876 – the feast of St. Joseph – at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo. He was sent to help the apostolic institutions at Limestone Hill, which were in deep debt. Overwhelmed with the seemingly hopeless situation at first, he asked for a transfer. He returned a year later, and never left.

He used his personal savings to pay down the debts. He formed the Association of Our Lady of Victory, which became the first mail solicitation fundraising initiative in the United States. The association enabled him to pay off the debt and to begin much-needed building projects on the site. He even ordered the drilling of a natural gas well on the property that continues to produce natural gas to this day.

Sanctuary for unwed mothers, babies

Horrified over news reports of workers discovering bones and bodies of infants and small children in the Erie Canal, Venerable Baker established Our Lady of Victory Infant Home to provide a sanctuary for unwed mothers and their babies.

“The local community had some mixed reactions to it,” Monsignor Burkard said. “Some people felt this was aiding and abetting unwed mothers. Those who cooperated with Father Baker knew this was the most charitable thing to do.”

Built Shrine, helped poor during Depression

Even as he entered his later years, Venerable Baker did not slow down in his labors. He was 79 years old when he began overseeing the construction of the Our Lady of Victory Shrine and Basilica. The magnificent church was completed in 1926. Within a year of its opening, Pope Benedict XV elevated it to a basilica.

Western New York did not escape the economic sufferings of the Great Depression. Though he was entering his 90s, Father Baker worked to ensure that the institutions under his watch helped out. Diocesan records show that Father Baker’s institutions served more than 450,000 meals during the first three years of the 1930s.

Venerable Baker died on July 29, 1936. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, and later re-interred at the basilica after his cause for canonization began in 1987. His legacy lives on today in Our Lady of Victory Homes of Charity and Baker Victory Services, which provide many of the same kinds of charitable services for vulnerable children and families that he began several decades ago.

“Whenever he saw a problem or a concern, he felt that was the Church’s mission, particularly things that had to do with social justice at the time and care for the poor,” Monsignor Burkard said. “He would find some way and people to help him to do it, to help him meet that need.” L

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Miraculous image of Our Lady to be crowned

Recently, I was blessed to go on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Saint Paul the Apostle, during which we visited Ephesus, a place where according to tradition, Mary lived her last years on this earth. But it is also the place where the Council of Ephesus took place in 431. During that Council, the bishops announced that Mary could also be called Mother of God.

The title “Mother of God” is one of the first titles given to Our Lady. We call her Mother of God not because God came from her, but because she gave birth to Jesus who is both God and man. The title Mother of God reminds us that Jesus is both divine and human.

On the same pilgrimage we visited certain mythological Greek gods’ places where we learned that Greek gods supposedly acted in a human way – often being jealous or angry, and the most striking to me… they did not take care of people. Conversely, Mary, Mother of God, who is totally human and at the same time the mother of our Savior from the beginning, is very much interested in the life of her children, us. We read in the Gospel that Christ did his first miracle at Cana, transforming water into wine after the intervention of His mother Mary. For this miracle to commence, Jesus‘ mother said to servants: “do whatever my Son will tell you.”

The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit, of which I am a part, for over 600 years has served like servants in Cana — in Czestochowa, Poland. In this ‘Polish Cana,’ the Pauline Fathers have witnessed many life-changing miracles upon Mary’s intercession. Pilgrims who come to that shrine have received graces through her intercession, and thus have chosen her as their Mother and Queen. As a sign of that, the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was crowned in Poland in 1717.

Pauline Fathers serve also in the ‘American Czestochowa’ (National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Doylestown, PA) where her icon was brought in the early 1950s. This newer church was built mostly by PolishAmericans, and consecrated in 1966 in America, signifying a millennium of Christianity in Poland.

Pope Saint John Paul II acknowledged this in his talk at the Shrine in Poland in 1979. He also blessed and signed the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which is kept in the lower chapel of The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown. Pilgrims of many nationalities come to the American shrine for everyday Mass, Confession, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but most of all to ask for Mary’s unfailing intercession. Among those who have made pilgrimage here were then-Cardinal Wojtyla (now Pope Saint John Paul II); U.S. presidents Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan; president of Poland Andrzej Duda, and many more.

As a thanksgiving to Our Lady for her presence and motherly care here in America, we will crown her icon at the American Czestochowa on August 25. The main celebrant of that ceremony will be Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput. We invite all to visit our magnificent Shrine and especially to celebrate the moment of crowning of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

In connection with the coronation of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in August, the shrine in Doylestown was recently granted a plenary indulgence by His Holiness Pope Francis, for all the faithful who visit the Shrine this year, from May through October. We encourage all to take advantage of this extraordinary grace, spiritual experience, and benefit from the coronation of the Miraculous Image of our Mother and Queen.

TADEUSZ LIZINCZYK OSPPE, provincial at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Doylestown, PA).

Pro-family message of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Last month, Legatus members and their families traveled to Mexico City for our annual Guadalupe pilgrimage. I have been to Mexico City on this pilgrimage three times now, and each pilgrimage leaves something with me. The Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the home of the tilma of Juan Diego, is a very unique pilgrimage site. It is the most visited Marian pilgrimage locale in the world and as is sometimes pointed out, the only place we can still see the physical evidence of an apparition of our Blessed Mother.

Stephen Henley

One of the most unique aspects of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the ribbon at her waist. In ancient times, this attire for an Aztec woman would signify that she was pregnant. This would mean that this, then, is the only apparition where Mary appears pregnant with Jesus. During the pilgrimage, I spent time reflecting on this aspect of Mary as the mother of God, and on Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of the unborn.

I tie this image of Mary with child to that of the Holy Family. Among other characteristics, being pro-life means being pro-family. When visiting the Shrine, aside from seeing thousands of pilgrims, there are many Mexican families traveling together to make this pilgrimage. Not only parents with their kids, but several generations, great-grandparents, grandparents, extended family. There are fewer images in our world that can speak more to real pro-life belief, than that of a family praying together.

Children, regardless of circumstance, are a real, tangible gift of God’s powerful love. Mother Teresa once said, “we must remember that life begins at home and we must also remember that the future of humanity passes through the family.” The family is the first Church, and an example for the world of God’s presence and love. In the historical moment of tolerance in which we find ourselves, it was a relief and a reassurance to see so many families come together united in Christ.

Our Lady of Guadalupe sends us a powerful message, an example of love and sacrifice for family to nations and cultures that have great need of her. Let us take this time to focus on family as a symbol of God’s love in our world.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Celebrate the most magnificent flower of God’s garden

Uniquely, flowers are one of the few things that have no real utility. We grow flowers simply for the sake of beauty and delight.

Many flowers are associated with Our Lady and are connected to her life in some way. Rooted in Canticle of Canticles, she is connected to the Rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley. Cardinal Henry Newman pointed out that the rose is the most beautiful of all the flowers. In the eyes of God, Our Lady remains the most beautiful human being who has ever existed or will exist.

Every May we honor that most splendid member of our race, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Indeed how appropriate that as nature’s beauty shines brilliantly this month as trees blossom and flowers bloom, we honor the most beautiful flower in God’s garden.

We point to this reality when we crown her statues with flowers and celebrate her feast days. After Mass one day, a gentleman insisted that we make too much about Mary, which takes away from the worship we owe God. He was reminded by this priest of the maxim, “De Maria numquam satis.” That is, “Concerning Mary nothing is sufficient.” Sadly, he was not convinced because he had attended classes at a local “Christian” college. Truly, Mary’s role in salvation history and her participation in the redemption of mankind is of such magnitude we can neither fully comprehend nor explain this great mystery anymore that we can the Blessed Trinity.

A rejection of the Mother of God is a rejection of Our Lord. This incident cautions us regarding the importance of preserving children from being exposed to false doctrines, especially when they are portrayed in innocuous terms such as ecumenical, nondenominational, or Christian events. Also, Catholics need to make an effort to know what the Church teaches and why, to inoculate themselves against being led astray.

Love of the Blessed Virgin Mary can only emanate from an orthodox Catholic heart. Catholics, even barely practicing ones, bear her affection and love albeit in varying degrees of intensity. This seemingly distant figure, the Mother of God and the majestic Queen of heaven and earth, immaculately conceived, sinless and perfect, becomes so real to her devotees that she inevitably draws them closer to her Son, Jesus Christ. She stands out among the human race showing clearly that this Trinitarian God loves mankind with a fierce love. Love of Our Lady manifests itself in nearly every place where the Faith exists through all the manifold expressions of piety by the faithful. Loving the masterpiece of God impels us to love the author of the masterpiece even more.

St. Anselm tells us that wherever there is the greatest purity there is also the greatest charity. The more pure the heart and empty of itself, the greater is its fullness of love toward God. If we may extend the flower analogy further, flowers cannot live without light and water. Our Lady lived in the light of God’s grace. As a result, the life of grace blossomed and multiplied in her soul. She emptied herself, allowing the heavenly dew of God’s grace to water the garden of her soul. He dilated and expanded the capacity of the Virgin to love with a Christ-like love, a self-sacrificial love.

Happily, Our Lord will do the same for us. If we seek after our divinely given vocation and strive to live in the light of God’s grace, we can expect the greatest happiness allotted to man in this vale of tears, and afterward a happy repose in the arms of Christ joining the angels and saints as one of the many beautiful flowers in God’s garden.

Tis the month of our Mother… bring flowers of purity, meekness, patience and love; they are garlands unfading, the blossoms which open above.

How dull our lives would be without our Queen of the May!

FATHER HAROLD MCKALE, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is parochial vicar to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish (Doylestown, PA) and works with the Philadelphia Latin Mass community. He hold a B.S. in business from Millersville University, and M.Div. and M.A. from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (Philadelphia).

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.