The Secret of Fatima
Editor’s Note: The following are excerpts from Fr. Bertrand Labouche’s book Fatima, The Message for Our Times. The full translation, including footnotes and appendices, is available from Angelus Press.
The Secret of Our Lady of Fatima
The Most Blessed Virgin Mary delivered messages to the shepherd children of Fatima, including three secrets that have been revealed. Have these secrets been published? Do they mean something that would interest the entire Church?
“Fatima”: the name rings out like a clarion in the battle, springs forth like a living source, shines like a light in the night, a light both gentle and strong.
Never has Our Lady spoken to her children on earth with such gravity and insistence, using unprecedented means to get them to heed her requests: the revelation of her sorrowful and immaculate heart (June 13, 1917); the promise of a miraculous aurora borealis (July 13, 1917); her request, repeated at each one of her six apparitions, for the daily recitation of the rosary; the miracle of the sun (October 13, 1917); and then an overwhelming secret, with three parts, communicated to the three shepherd children on July 13, 1917. Sister Lucy published the two first parts in her third Memoir, written on August 31, 1941. The third part, written on January 3, 1944, was officially published by the Vatican on June 26, 2000.
The Three Parts of the Secret
The parts are: the vision of hell, the devotion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the consecration of Russia to this same heart, and the martyrdom of many Catholics of all conditions, from the pope to the simple baptized faithful.
So this secret has an individual, a social and an ecclesial impact: the salvation of souls, the conversion of a nation for the good of other nations, and a bloody persecution of the Catholic Church.
“You have seen Hell”
For the first time in the history of all her apparitions on earth, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary revealed hell. She did so after saying to Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say many times, especially when you make a sacrifice, ‘O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’”
“As she said this,” tells Sister Lucia, “she opened her hands again, as she had done the last two months. The reflection of the light seemed to penetrate the earth and we saw a great sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and the souls (of the damned) in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It was at the sight of this spectacle that I must have let out the cry that they say they heard.) The demons could be distinguished (from the souls of the damned) by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.
This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.
Terrified and as if to ask for help, we raised our eyes towards Our Lady, who told us so kindly and so sadly: ‘You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart[.]’”
Some wonder that the best of mothers would show so terrifying a spectacle to children. But Our Lady’s teaching methods did not backfire. These children’s souls were not traumatized; they were filled with supernatural lucidity, with fervor in prayer, and with apostolic charity for the conversion of poor sinners. It was not so much the horror of the spectacle that overwhelmed them as the sorrow of Our Lady and the fate of the damned. A sickness that causes repulsive wounds inspires a good doctor not with insurmountable disgust but with the desire to do everything possible to heal it. These children would go on to do everything in their power, to the point of practicing heroic virtue, to save souls in danger of being lost from this frightful peril.
Listen to the moving laments of little Jacinta after the vision of hell: “Hell! Hell! How sorry I am for the souls who go to hell! Those living persons burning like wood in a fire!” And half-trembling, she would fall to her knees, join her hands, and recite the prayer Our Lady had taught them: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.” Then she would repeat the same prayer on her knees, sobbing. And to Lucia: “You must ask Our Lady to show hell to all those people and you will see how they will convert! Why didn’t you tell Our Lady to show hell to all those people? How sorry I am for sinners! If only I could show them hell! I am going to Heaven, but I want all those people to go, too.”
Alas, not only are our times far from sharing in little Jacinta’s anguish, but hell is even “in” as they say. One might almost wonder whether Baudelaire’s comment “the devil’s greatest ruse is to make people believe that he does not exist” can still apply today. Young people, in search of strong emotions, are more and more fascinated by the devil, the admitted inspiration behind rock music. Satanic sects are multiplying at breakneck speed: their followers are less and less hidden, and they openly proclaim their attachment to the evil one. Worn wittingly or unwittingly, his emblems appear everywhere.
Thousands of souls will arise at the Last Judgment to say: “You knew, why did you never say anything, why did you even reassure us?” “You who knew our state, why did you not worry about our conversion?” “Why did you not at least pray and do penance for us?”
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
This devotion is to be fulfilled in two ways, as Our Lady herself explained on July 13, 1917: “I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays.”
It was on June 13, 1929, in Tuy, in the convent where Sister Lucia was living, that Our Lady came to ask her for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. We will let Sister Lucia describe this new and splendid vision: “I had requested and obtained permission from my superiors and my confessor to make a holy hour from 11:00 pm to midnight, from Thursday to Friday of each week. Finding myself alone one night…the only light was that of the [sanctuary] lamp. Suddenly, the whole chapel lit up with a supernatural light and on the altar appeared a cross of light which reached the ceiling. In a clearer light, on the upper part of the cross, could be seen the face of a man with His body to the waist, on His chest a dove, equally luminous; and nailed to the cross, the body of another man. A little below the waist [of Christ on the cross], suspended in the air, could be seen a chalice and a large host, onto which some drops of blood were falling, which flowed from the face of the Crucified One and from the wound in His breast. Running down over the host, these drops fell into the chalice.
“Under the right arm of the cross was Our Lady; she appeared as Our Lady of Fatima, with Her Immaculate Heart in Her left hand, without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames.
“Under the left arm of the cross were large letters, like crystalline water which flowed over the altar, forming these words: ‘Grace and Mercy.’ I understood that the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity was shown to me, and I received lights about this mystery which I am not permitted to reveal.
Then Our Lady said to me: ‘The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father to make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.
“‘So numerous are the souls which the justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I come to ask for reparation. Sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.’”
The conditions of this Consecration of Russia are clear: the pope must solemnly consecrate Russia in particular, and not the whole world in general, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union, at least moral union, with all the bishops of the world.
Alas, the request of our Lady has not yet been fulfilled, as the table shows.
Lucia arrived in Pontevedra in Spain at the end of October 1925 to prepare to enter the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Dorothy. Our Lady accomplished her promise from July 13, 1917, appearing to the postulant Sister Lucia in her cell on December 10, 1925, accompanied by the Child Jesus.
Here is the account of this vision: “The Most Holy Virgin put Her hand on my shoulder and showed me, at the same time, a heart surrounded by thorns which She held in the other hand. At that same moment, the Child said to me: ‘Have compassion on the heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.’
“Then the Most Holy Virgin said: ‘Look, my daughter, at my heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least, try to console me and announce in my name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months shall receive the sacrament of Confession, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary, with the intention of making reparation to my Immaculate Heart.’”
On February 15, 1926, the Child Jesus again appeared to Lucia to encourage her to spread this “First Saturday devotion.” Lucia explained to Jesus how difficult it would be for some souls to go to confession on Saturdays and asked him if the confession could be within eight days. Jesus answered:
The devotion includes five first Saturdays because, as Our Lord revealed to Sister Lucia on May 29, 1930, there are five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
Our Lord’s answer to Sister Lucia is a very sad reality: the great Marian dogmas are the object of ceaseless blasphemies; the Marian devotion by which children are so easily touched is pitilessly hidden from them or ridiculed before them; images and statues of Our Lady are the favorite targets of iconoclasts. It would be easy to give a list of facts, but that list would be far too long.
For those who only see in this only an “extra devotion” whose recompense (eternal salvation) seems far out of proportion with the practice, we quote these magnificent words from Rev. Fr. Alonso: “This great promise is simply another manifestation of the Most Blessed Trinity’s complacent love for the Virgin Mary. For those who understand this, it is easy to see how such humble practices can be associated with such marvelous promises. And they fulfill them faithfully with a simple heart full of trust in the Virgin Mary.”
The Church Persecuted
This mysterious passage, about which so much has been written, begins with: “In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved,” etc. Then the Virgin of Fatima added: “Do not tell this to anyone. Yes, you may tell Francisco.”
The text of the third missing part of the secret of Fatima was written by Sister Lucia on January 3, 1944. And according to the visionary, it was not to be published until 1960. Here is the text, which was shared by the Vatican on June 26, 2000: it is a striking vision that is not accompanied by any words from Our Lady:
“J.M.J. I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance! Penance! Penance!’ And we saw in an immense light that is God (something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it) 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. Beneath the two arms of the cross there were two angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”
This vision does not fail to remind us of St. Pius X’s vision in 1909, during a General Chapter of the Franciscans: “What I saw was horrible! Will it be me? Will it be my successor? I do not know. But I do know that I saw the pope flee the Vatican stepping over the corpses of his priests! Do not tell anyone so long as I am alive!”
Several studies have sought to prove that this text was a fake. We will not go into this debate, which would take us off topic. But we can say just that since this text was published while Sister Lucia was still alive, she would certainly have protested, at least through her family members, if it had been invented!
But there is a point that seems to me to deserve our particular attention: when our Lady showed the three shepherd children her Immaculate Heart, and then in the following month hell, she pronounced words each time that accompanied or commented upon the visions. So it is surprising that she did not offer any explanations for this vision, that was impressive to say the least, and somewhat mysterious, and with which the July 13 apparition ended.
The vision is introduced by the words “In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved, etc.” What does this “etc.” mean? If Portugal will always preserve the dogma of the faith, “we can clearly conclude,” comments Fr. Joaquim Alonso, “that in other parts of the Church this dogma is going to become obscure or even be lost.” This little phrase seems to call for more, for a development. Yes, the vision describes the death of martyrs, assassinated out of hatred for the faith, but it is not directly connected to the phrase “in Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved.” In other words, just because a country is going to preserve the dogma of the faith, that does not necessarily mean that many people will die martyrs.
What is more, the words: “you may tell Francisco”; do they not refer to words? After all, Francisco saw the visions, but he did not hear what the Blessed Virgin said.
It would seem reasonable to believe that while the vision is authentic, the words that accompanied it were perhaps not revealed by the Vatican; which would go along with the theory of two texts by Sister Lucia, the text of the vision being only one of the two.
In any case this much is certain:
Reading the secret of Our Lady of Fatima confirms the urgent need for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the salvation of souls and nations and the triumph of the Holy Roman Church! It also calls upon us urgently to do penance. And lastly, it encourages us to say, even to the death if need be: Bonum certamen certavi, fidem servavi, “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the Faith!”