2017 THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FATIMA APPARITIONS (May through October 1917)
In 1930, under the pontificate of Pope Pius XI, the Holy Office (at the time called the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office and today known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) declared the apparitions of Our Blessed Lady to three shepherd children in Fatima, as worthy of belief.
From that time, six Popes have supported the Fatima message; in fact, during a meeting with one of the seers, Sister Lucia, in 1977, while still Cardinal of Venice, Pope John Paul I was so moved by her recounting of the events, that he vowed to perform the Consecration of Russia as Sister Lucia has said.
In 1964, Pope Paul VI sent a Golden Rose to the Shrine, as did Pope Benedict XVI after praying in the Chapel of the Apparition on May 13, 2010. Before a crowd of over 500,000 pilgrims, Benedict spoke of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as promised in the Fatima prophecy.
Pope Saint John Paul II was particularly devoted to Our Lady of Fatima and credits Her for saving his life after he survived an assassin’s bullet in Saint Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. In fact, His Holiness sent the bullet removed from his body, to the Sanctuary of Fatima, where it was placed in the crown upon the head of Our Lady’s statue, which stands upon the exact spot where Our Blessed Lady appeared in the Chapel of the Apparition.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE APPARITIONS
On the 13th of each month from May to October 1917 (except for the month of August, when the Our Lady came on the 19th because children were taken for questioning by the civil authorities to Ourem) Our Blessed Lady appeared to three shepherd children: Lucia de Jesus dos Santos (age 10) and her two cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto (aged 9 and 7 respectively at the time of the apparitions).
Prior to the coming of the Mother of God, the children were prepared and were taught to pray fervently, by an Angel. The Angel came three times, identifying himself as the Angel of Peace, Guardian Angel of Portugal, and instructed the children to pray and that “The hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy for you! Offer unceasingly to the Most High prayers and sacrifices!”
The third and final visit of the Angel took place in Autumn of 1916; he brought with him a Chalice with the Host above it from which fell a few drops of the Precious Blood, leaving it suspended in mid-air he lay prostrate on the ground taught the children this prayer which he repeated three times: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly and I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Son, Jesus Christ, present in all of the Tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the sacrileges, outrages and indifferences by which He Himself is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.”
Each apparition of Our Blessed Lady carried with it a message of prayer and sacrifice, especially the Rosary. Our Lady promised many graces and miracles if Her requests were fulfilled. The full message given each time Our Lady appeared can be found by consulting www.internationalpilgrimvirginstatue.org or www.fatima.org .
We focus on the Third Apparition, July 13, 1917. Our Lady showed the three children a vision of Hell, saying: “You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wants to establish throughout the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people will do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace….but if they do not stop offending God…He will punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.” “To forestall this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.”
As She promised, Our Blessed Lady returned in 1925 on December 10. The Child Jesus appeared with Our Lady to Sister Lucia, (Francisco and Jacinta were called to Heaven in 1919 & 1920 respectively) in the Convent where she was stationed in Pontevedra, Spain. The Child Jesus, showing Sister Lucia a Heart encircled by thorns, said “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 Our Lady spoke: “My daughter, look at My Heart surrounded with thorns 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 confess, 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 me.”
Our Lord revealed to Sister Lucia, as she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, the reason for Five First Saturdays; it is because there are five offenses and blasphemies committed against Mary’s Immaculate Heart, they are:
- Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
- Blasphemies against Her Perpetual Virginity
- Blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize Her as the Mother of men.
- The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children, indifference or scorn, or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother.
- The offenses of those who outrage Her directly in Her Holy images.
PADRE PIO AND OUR LADY OF FATIMA
Padre Pio had great love of Our Blessed Lady; his devotion to Her was unwavering and tender. He called Her “La Mia Mammina” a tender and loving, yet respectful diminutive in the Italian language, translating to “My Little Mother”. His devotion to Mary under the title of Fatima is legendary.
As recounted in the book PADRE PIO by fellow Capuchin Friar and dear friend, the late Father John A. Schug, Padre Pio became gravely ill on the evening of the 24th of April, 1959. By special concession of the Pope, the Pilgrim Virgin statue was brought by helicopter to San Giovanni Rotondo on August 5. For three months Padre Pio had been confined to bed. Against the wishes of his doctor he had insisted on getting up… he was carried by two strong Friars from his room to the Church where the statue was venerated…”Dissolved in tears from pain and fever” a writer described, “he knelt before his Queen in prayer and reverently kissed the base of the famous image of Our Lady” and returned to his bed. At 2:15 PM the helicopter took off carrying the statue to other cities of Italy, but it circled the piazza and convent where Padre Pio could see Our Lady through the window. “Madonna Mia”, he moaned, “The day you arrived in Italy I became sick. Now you are leaving and you leave me like this”…The pilot, as he pulled away felt a sudden impulse to swing back toward the Convento. Padre Pio himself tells us what happened: “At that moment I felt a shudder in my bones and I was cured immediately.” He got out of bed and went about his work as if healthy all his life. Later he wrote the account of his cure in a letter to his superiors in Rome.
THE PRAYER GROUPS OF PADRE PIO
Responding to the heartfelt pleas of Pope Pius XII who called for the faithful to gather and pray often as a community, being that His Holiness saw the multitude of dangers as the world changing drastically: moving away from the teachings of the Church and turning to an immoral and secular philosophy, Padre Pio, urged his Spiritual Children to form groups of prayer and to pray especially for the intentions of the Holy Father.
From 1947 Prayer Groups began forming throughout Italy and Europe and moving as well in the United States.
By 1950, the first official list of what was called the Padre Pio Prayer Groups was made and the Prayer Groups were placed under the direction of the official “Work of Padre Pio” the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in San Giovanni Rotondo, which Padre Pio gifted to the Holy Father before his death in 1968.
In fact in July of that same year, His Holiness, Pope Paul VI appointed an Apostolic Overseer for the Padre Pio Prayer Groups, granting to these an Apostolic designation, recognized by the Holy See. Padre Pio shed humble tears of great joy.
Even today the Padre Pio Prayer Groups continue to flourish in just about every country in the world. The International Coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups is the Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, currently the Most Reverend Michele Castoro, and locally here in the United States of America, the National Coordinator is Father Francis Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
Inspired by Padre Pio’s devotion to Our lady of Fatima and her love of Padre Pio, the Centre’s late founder, Vera M. Calandra, began a Padre Pio Prayer Group in her local Parish of Holy Saviour Church in Norristown, Pennsylvania and set the monthly date for the Prayer Group to meet on the First Saturday of each month.
The Padre Pio Prayer Group was granted approval by the late John Cardinal Krol, then Archbishop of Philadelphia in 1970 and continues to meet even today.
When the Centre transferred to our present location in Barto, Pennsylvania, Mrs. Calandra again asked for permission to form a Padre Pio Prayer Group and was granted permission wholeheartedly by the late Bishop of Allentown, Thomas J. Welsh. The Prayer Group followed the same format as established in 1970, Rosary recitation, followed by Mass and Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament and veneration of the Relic of Saint Pio. After which there is social time, where the Prayer Group members are informed of the latest events in the work of Padre Pio.
This beautiful relationship between Padre Pio and Our Lady of Fatima inspires in our hearts great joy at the approaching anniversary of the apparitions. We are looking forward to doing our part to share this devotion with all of the devotees and pilgrims who visit this Centre throughout the year.
Please be sure to visit this website and our facebook page for the events which we will sponsor throughout the year in honor of this once in our lifetime event!