The apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, to three young shepherds, were preceded and prepared by several visits from heaven as early as 1915. Here is a short history of all these apparitions, the messages from Mary and the events that followed :
From April through October, three young shepherds, Lucia dos Santos, age 10 (d. Feb. 13, 2005) and her cousins, Francisco Marta, age 9 (d. April 4, 1919) and Jacinta Marto, age 7 (d. Feb. 2, 1920), saw a figure similar to a statue of snow.
In the spring, summer and fall, an angel appeared to the children as they were watching their sheep.
On Sunday, May 13th, the three children took their flocks out to pasture on a small area known as the Cova da Iria (two miles from Fatima); they saw a “lady” near an oak tree, clothed in white, brighter that the sun, who asked them to come back there for six months, on the thirteenth day of the month at noon. They came back for the first time on June 13th. On July 13th, the Lady promised a great miracle “so everyone would believe.” She revealed three secrets to the children; two were released in 1941:
1) the vision of hell (a terrifying sea of fire full of demons and lost souls amidst indescribable horrors);
2) the end of the war (but, if people do not cease offending God, a worse one would break out under the Pontificate of Pius XI). On August 19th, the Virgin appeared to the children in Valinhos near the Cova da Iria. A few days earlier, on the 13th, the civilian authorities, fearful of the curiosity and fervor shown in the previous apparition, arrested the children who spent 24 hours in jail.
On September 13th: another apparition. On October 13th, the sixth and last apparition: The sun “danced” in front of 70,000 people. The Virgin told the children to return to God's commandments and to the Gospel. The righteous are invited to do penance for sinners, in order to preserve them from hell and obtain peace in the world and the conversion of Russia.
- December 10, 1925: Lucia had a vision of Mary with the Child Jesus
- 1928: work on the Basilica is begun; the first stone is laid
- 1929: On June 13th, Mary asks Lucia that the Pope in union will all the bishops in the world consecrate of Russia to her Immaculate Heart (of which she had spoken in July 1917)
- 1930: Recognition by the bishop of Leiria
- 1942: Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart
- 1946: Coronation of the Virgin of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima was crowned Queen of Portugal and the world, by Pope Pius XII, after the statue of the Virgin had journeyed for 32 days around Portugal.
- 1947: The Pilgrim Virgin of Our Lady of Fatima journeyed around the world
On an inspiration of Sister Lucia, following her pilgrimage to all the parishes in Portugal, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima was sent on a pilgrimage around the world after a ceremony which took place in Fatima on May 13th. The Pilgrim Virgin eventually visited five continents.
- 1950: Pope Pius XII saw the sun dance at the Vatican
Over a period of three days, between October 30th and November 1st: Pius XII saw the sun dance in the sky in the Vatican Gardens.
May 13th: Paul VI visited Fatima for the fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions.
1982 and 1991 Pope John Paul II visited the shrine of Fatima
On May 13th, John Paul II visited the shrine for the first and tenth anniversaries of the attack made on his life on May13, 1981, from which he miraculously survived.
- 1984: John Paul II renewed the consecration of the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
March 25th: John Paul II renewed the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, at St Peter's Square in Rome, in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
From May 13th to October 13th, the Church celebrated the 80th anniversary of the apparitions. Four million visitors visited Fatima that year alone.
- On May 13th 2000 : the young seers Jacinta and Francisco were beatified by John Paul II in Fatima.
- On May 13th 2000 : the contents of the "third secret" were revealed by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. The secret referred to the attempt on the life of John Paul II at Saint Peter's Square, on May 13, 1981, the conflict of atheist communism with the Church and Christians, and the immense suffering of the victims of the faith in the twentieth century.
- On May 13th 2000: The Pope met with Sister Lucia then age 93. She had returned to Fatima for the fourth time because a pope came to Fatima for the fourth time. “I once again mention the goodness the Lord has had for me, by saving me from death when I was seriously wounded on May 13, 1981,” said John Paul II. “Also I wish to express my gratitude to the Blessed Jacinta for the sacrifices and prayers that she offered for the Holy Father who she had seen suffer terribly.”
- June 26th 2000 : Publication of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on the apparitions and the “secret.”
- October 8th 2000 : Act of offering by Pope John Paul II and 1,500 bishops placing the Church and the world under the protection of the Blessed Virgin for the third millennium, on the occasion of the Great Jubilee Year of 2000 at St Peter's Square, before the statue of the Our Lady of Fatima.
Adapted from Zenit