we looked at a quick summary of the Fatima Apparitions that took place between May 13 and October 13, 1917. Today I want to look at, specifically the content of the three secrets and the confusion regarding the consecration of Russia.
Last week we learned that in Fatima, Mary appeared to three children, Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia. Francisco and Jacinta died shortly after the apparitions took place. Lucia however, went on to become a religious sister and continued to have private visions.
In 1929 she reported that Mary appeared to her and asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.
In 1941, in her third memoir, Sr. Lucia described the three secrets that had been revealed to them in July 1917. The first secret was the vision of hell. The second secret was recommending a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a way to save souls and bring peace to the world. It also predicted an end to WWI, but predicted a worse war if people didn’t stop offending God. This message also included the promise that Mary would return to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and the re-establishment of the First Saturday Devotions.
The third secret, which I remember still being secret when I was growing up, was revealed to the Holy Father, Paul VI, at the time, in 1960. Lucia explains that she kept it secret until then because she believed that it would be more clearly understood after that date. That same year, the Vatican made an official statement that the third secret would remain a secret.
However, the Third Secret was made public in 2000. It reads in part:
And we saw … a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there, the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.
Before it was made public (with an appropriate commentary), the Secretary of State for the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, announced at the time of the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta, that Pope John Paul believed his surviving the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981 (on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima) was linked to the third secret of Fatima.
He said that,
“According to the interpretation of the “little shepherds”, which was also confirmed recently by Sister Lucia, “the Bishop clothed in white” who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. As he makes his way with great difficulty towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (Bishops, priests, men and women Religious and many lay people), he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a hail of gunfire.
After the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981, it appeared evident that it was “a mother's hand that guided the bullet's path”, enabling “the Pope in his throes” to halt “at the threshold of death” (Pope John Paul II, Meditation from the Policlinico Gemelli to the Italian Bishops, Insegnamenti, XVII, 1 , 1061). On the occasion of a visit to Rome by the then Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, the Pope decided to give him the bullet which had remained in the jeep after the assassination attempt, so that it might be kept in the shrine. By the Bishop's decision, the bullet was later set in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.”
It has been made clear then, that the Third Secret of Fatima refers in part, specifically to the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II and generally to our Lady’s call to conversion and penance. For a fascinating and beautiful explanation and commentary on all of this, you should go to the Vatican website and read The Message of Fatima
document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
As far as the Consecration to Russia is concerned, you need not go further than a letter written by Sr. Lucia to Sr. Mary of Bethlehem who had written to ask if the Consecration according to Our Lady’s request had been made.
that, yes. John Paul II wrote to all the bishops of the world asking them to unite with him and on March 25, 2984, publicly made the Consecration and that this is what our lady requested.
The confusion stems from the fact that although we are not sure whether the request was given to the Holy Father before 1940, Sr. Lucia personally wrote to Pope Piux XII saying that Our Lord himself had requested the pope to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with a special mention for Russia and order that “all the Bishops of the world do the same in union with Your Holiness.”
In 1942 Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary but did not do so in union with the bishops of the world. In 1952 he consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart, but again did not do so in union with the bishops of the world.
In 1964 Paul VI renewed the Consecration in the presence of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council but did not do so with their participation.
In 1982, Pope John Paul II invited all the bishops of the world to join him in the Consecration but many did not receive the invitation. Sr. Lucia later said that this did not fulfill the request as it had not been done in union with all the bishops of the world.
In 1984, Pope John Paul II “united with all the pastors of the Church in a particular bond whereby we constitute a body and a college," consecrates "the whole world, especially the peoples for which by reason of their situation you have particular love and solicitude." When Sr. Lucia was asked if it was made as Our Lady requested, she said, “yes.”
Those who still claim that the request has not been fulfilled are picking on the fact that the final Consecration which was done in union with all the bishops of the world was not specifically for Russia, but for the whole world (despite the fact that “the whole world” includes Russia). The clarification comes with the fact that Pope John Paul II was renewing the Consecrations which had already been made: of the whole world in 1942 and of Russia in 1952. When he renewed it in 1984, he did so in union with the bishops of the world. To read more about these Consecrations, visit Papal Conserations to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lucia died on February 13, 2005 at the age of 97.
Image: A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried through the crowd May 12 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. (CNS photo/Rafael Marchante, Reuters)
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: firstname.lastname@example.org