By: Jason Songe
“The sun’s disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamour was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible.”—Dr. Joseph Almeida Garrett, Professor of Natural Sciences at Coimbra University
“To my surprise, I see clearly and distinctly a globe of light advancing from east to west, gliding slowly and majestically through the air…My friend, full of enthusiasm, went from group to group… asking people what they had seen. The persons asked came from the most varied social classes and all unanimously affirmed the reality of the phenomena which we ourselves had observed.”—Rev. John Quaresma, a Portuguese Catholic Priest
Word spread quickly.
In July of 1917 The Mother of God told the visionaries she would return in three months to perform a miracle so that “all may believe.” She said it would be at the same spot, Cova da Iria, in Fatima, Portugal, where she had been appearing to the three of them since May. At noon.
This Friday October 13 marks the 100th anniversary of The Miracle of The Sun. Tens of thousands, some say 30,000 and others 100,000, gathered in the field against the wishes of the atheist, Freemason Portuguese government. Their soldiers had gathered to scatter pilgrims, but the crowds broke through and saw the Sun turn into a spinning black disc that careened toward the Earth. Some even said that their rain-soaked clothes and the wet ground they stood on immediately dried during the miracle.
It helped to convert thousands, including Notre Dame Seminary Professor Mark Barker.
“It’s empirical proof of the supernatural. One person could have a hallucination but 10,000 people seeing the same thing at the same time is inconceivable,” Dr. Barker said during a recent interview. “Fatima is God condescending to the human intellect’s need for proof.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa, defined a miracle as “something done outside the order of the entire created universe.”
Dr. Barker said the fact that God permitted such a miracle to occur is important because in the normal divine economy public miracles only took place during biblical times: in the Old Testament with the plagues, for example, or in the New Testament with the many miracles of Jesus.
“Fatima is unique in Church history because it’s a very public miracle witnessed on a large scale predicted three months in advance,” Dr. Barker said.
In 2000 The Congregation for The Doctrine of the Faith(CDF) released a document entitled The Message of Fatima. In it they say that “Fatima is undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions.”
Fatima was a miracle, but it was also a message.
Between May 1917 and October 1917, Mother Mary appeared six times to three shepherd children from Fatima: Servant of God Lucia Santos and her cousins, St. Jacinta Marto and St. Francisco Marto. She brought them a message of penance for peace, prayer of the Rosary, devotions to her Immaculate Heart and the brown scapular, and the reparation of First Saturdays.
“Mother Mary was reminding us to use the gifts of the Church,” Dr. Barker said.
In the document The CDF said “the message of Fatima, with its urgent call to conversion and penance, draws us to the heart of the Gospel.”
Dr. Barker agrees, saying that Fatima’s message is the message of the Gospel.
Barker identifies three categories of Mary’s teaching at Fatima: moral, speculative, and spiritual. The first was moral, where she placed importance on purity. According to Dr. Barker, this emphasis was prophetic as regards to the sexual revolution of the ‘60’s.
“This revolution had roots in the modern philosophy of Hume. The predominance of sexual immorality was something she warned us against,” Dr. Barker said.
Scottish philosopher David Hume also spoke on miracles, rejecting them.
“He rejected them as unreasonable. My reply to him is that there are miracles that have many public witnesses and that it doesn’t make sense to deny them out of hand,” Barker said.
Barker listed the Shroud of Turin and the Our Lady of Guadalupe tilma as scientifically verifiable miracles.
On July 13, 1917, The Virgin Mary showed the children a vision of Hell, which was her speculative teaching, Dr. Barker said. Lucia Santos details the vision in Message of Fatima.
“Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, and amid human shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear,” Santos said.
Death and purgatory were also explored in Fatima, according to Dr. Barker.
“The visionaries were foretold of their deaths, and when one of the visionaries asked where her friend was in the afterlife, Mary said she was in purgatory,” Dr. Barker said.
The spiritual teaching was the gift of the “O Jesus” prayer by angels to the three children. The prayer is now said at the end of each Rosary decade.
“The angels were teaching them how to pray,” Barker said.
SPREAD OF ERRORS
“If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will ave much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and the world will enjoy a period of peace.” –The Blessed Virgin’s message to Fatima visionaries in July 1917.
At the time of Mother Mary’s above message, the country of Russia had been Christian for centuries. Orthodox Christianity was the state religion, and a 1897 census identifies 87 million people, or 69% of the population, as Russian Orthodox.
Sure, Lenin and his Bolsheviks had already begun their revolution and deposed Emperor Nicholas II that March, but he wouldn’t get full power over the Provisional Government until November of that year. There was still time…but not much.
“She appeared the first year of the Communist Revolution, knowing atheism was going to be spread wide by it,” Dr. Barker said. “She was reminding us of the moral norms contained within the Gospel directly before the moral relativism of communism was to be disseminated.”
In a speech at Fatima in 2000, Roman Catholic Cardinal Angelo Sodano said that “the vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheistic systems against the Church and Christians, and it describes the immense suffering endured by the witnesses of the faith in the last century of the second millennium.”
This suffering is well-documented.
The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion, according to Revelations from the Russian Archives: Anti-Religious Campaigns, a document of the U.S. government available at the Library of Congress(loc.gov).
The main target of the USSR was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the most believers. Nearly all of its clergy were shot or sent to labor camps, according to the document. By 1939 500 of over 50,000 churches remained open, and by 1926 the Roman Catholic Church had no bishops left in the USSR.
Dr. Barker urged us to keep an open mind and read about Fatima.
“Fatima took place on such a scale that should be taken seriously by any open minded person. People will say that miracles are never known in advance but…Fatima falsifies that,” Dr. Barker said.
About the Author: Jason Songe
Jason is a seminarian in Pre-Theology 1.
All opinions published by the authors on this blog are solely those of the authors. Although the goal is that they should, they do not necessarily express the views and opinions of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Notre Dame Seminary, the Church, or their respective dioceses and bishops.
Notre Dame Seminary and the Archdiocese of New Orleans are not responsible for the comments of commenters, although every effort will be made to remove offensive comments.
If you should find an error or offensive content, please email the NDS Blog editorial team.