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Monday, February 14, 2005

Sister Fatima

The last eyewitness of Fatima died yesterday. Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos was 97 and she was the only one of the three children connected to the apparitions of Virgin Mary who lived beyond childhood. Her cousins Jacinta and Francesco Marto died of consumption soon after the Fatima apparitions of 1917.

Growing up in Malta I was always fascinated by the Maltese devotion towards the Madonna of Fatima. My Gozitan grandparents even named three of their offspring after the Fatima children! So, what was the significance of the Mother of Christ appearing in that small village in Portugal? And what, if any, was the connection with previous apparitions at Lourdes in France some 60 years earlier?

The 3 children of Fatima in 1917Many believed that the children were told of things to come during their visions. Those things included world wars, the rise and fall of Soviet communism, and the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in the early years of his papacy. Incidentally, the appartitions always took place on the 13th of the month, the Pope was shot on the 13th of May, and Lucia died on the 13th of February. How's that for unlucky 13?

In case you think this is all just old catholic folklore, there's even a connection with Islam in the Fatima apparitions. In his book Fatima: The Great Sign (originally published in 1979) Francis Johnston explains:

"The Muslims, who have a certain devotion to Our Lady and recognize her Virgin Birth and Immaculate Conception, were intrigued by the fact that Mary had appeared at Fatima, which was the name of Mohammed's favorite daughter and regarded by the prophet as the highest woman in Heaven after our Lady. In Zanzibar, the Muslim sultan placed a wreath of flowers at the [Fatima] statue's feet, while the Muslim chief of the Ismaeli tribe in Mozambique placed a golden necklace about the statue's neck saying: 'Thank you, Our Lady of Fatima for the work of love you are accomplishing in Africa'" (p. 126).

The Pope is now too frail to combat militant Islam the way he battled communism in the Soviet bloc. However, I cannot but wonder if the next Pope will have a charge from the Fatima visions to engage with the ills of Islamic extremists in a way similar to the Vatican's quiet war on communism in the 1980s.

Blogger Pierre J. Mejlak said...

A very thought-provoking entry. I look forward to have a look at Johnston's book. 

1:21 PM, February 14, 2005

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