Catholic Throwback Thursday: Popes and Our Lady of Fátima

“May Portugal never forget the heavenly message of Fátima, which, before anybody else she was blessed to hear. To keep Fátima in your heart and to translate Fátima into deeds, is the best guarantee for ever more graces.”

–Pope Pius XII (1950)

Lúcia dos Santos (left) with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta

It’s Catholic Throwback Thursday:

The Church honors the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Blessed Mother, during the month of May. For this week’s flashback, we are focusing on the Marian shrine in Fátima, Portugal.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima (Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Fátima), visited by over four million persons each year, is the location of 1917 apparitions of the Blessed Mother to three young shepherd children, Lúcia dos Santos (age 10), and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto (ages 7 and 9).

Devotion to Our Lady of Fatima is very strong. Several popes have visited the shrine over the past decades.

Pope Paul VI:

In 1967, Pope Paul VI prayed at Fátima on May 13, the fiftieth anniversary of the first apparition. He was joined in prayer by Sister Lúcia, the eldest visionary who later became a Carmelite nun. At the end of the Second Vatican Council (1965), Pope Paul had renewed the consecration of the world first made by Pope Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pope John Paul II:

Saint John Paul II, who had a strong devotion to Our Lady of Fátima, visited there three times, meeting and praying with Sister Lúcia on each occasion.

John Paul credited Our Lady with saving his life during the 1981 assassination attempt by a Turkish gunman which occurred on May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima. The Holy Father visited the shrine the following year to express his gratitude for her intercession. He also officially consecrated all humanity to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin, as Pope Pius XII had done before him in 1942.

 As a sign of his gratitude to the Blessed Mother, the Holy Father gave one of bullets to the bishop who had it enshrined in the crown of the Fátima statue.

Would-be assassin’s bullet is seen in the center pointing down.

In the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II returned to beatify Jacinta (left) and Francisco Marto, Sister Lucia’s young cousins, who had both died in 1919 of the flu epidemic. They became the youngest non-martyred children to be beatified. Sister Lúcia (center) died five years later at age 97 on February 13, 2005.

Pope Benedict XVI:

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage to Fátima in May of 2010 for the tenth anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco. On the first day of his visit, he prayed at the Chapel of Apparitions and left a Golden Rose to Our Lady of Fátima “as a homage of gratitude from the Pope for the marvels that the Almighty has worked through you in the hearts of so many who come as pilgrims to this your maternal home.”

The Holy Father also recalled in prayer the “invisible hand” that saved his friend and predecessor: “It is a profound consolation to know that you are crowned not only with the silver and gold of our joys and hopes, but also with the ‘bullet’ of our anxieties and sufferings.”

Pope Francis:

This past October 12, 2013, Pope Francis prayed in St. Peter’s Square before the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima, brought there from Portugal. The weekend’s Marian events for the Year of Faith concluded with Pope Francis consecrating the world to the Blessed Mother.

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Fatima Prayer (to be said after each decade of the rosary):

Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven,

especially those who have most need of Thy mercy.

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