Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, Portugal. This earth-shattering event has left a lasting impression on the world. The apparitions in Fatima culminating in this miracle have also been one of the most intriguingly mysterious and highly debated occurrences in the modern world. Of course, just the simple fact of Our Lady appearing to mankind must always be approached with unrelenting awe and amazement, but Fatima also included several promises and prophecies, which consistently leave us with the desire to investigate and probe when and where these might occur. Not only that, but you add in the fact that a miracle occurred in which somewhere around an estimated 70,000 people viewed, you have a veritable marvel unlike anything in human history. This event which we celebrate today, is a bidding by the Queen of Heaven to claim Christ as King once again in the hearts and minds of the world. For, if the sun itself is a plaything in Her blessed hands, then “to whom else shall we go?”
In one of Ven. Fulton Sheen’s speeches he speaks of this date of October 13th, 1917 as one of profound up-ending of world powers and a historic change that occurs in the history of mankind. He goes on to show that on this day 100 years ago, three cities experienced three separate but interconnected events that will shape the next century. Those cities were Moscow, Rome, and of course, Fatima.
On October 13th, 1917, Maria Alexandrovich was teaching religion to a group of 200 children in Moscow, in the Church of the Iberian Virgin. Suddenly, numerous men on horses entered the front door and came riding through the middle isle. Jumping off their horses they began to destroy the communion rail, the altar, and smashed statues as the children and Maria watched in horror. Unpredictably, those men then turned their rage on the children, beat them, and murdered several. Maria, in utter loss and fear, ran out of the church screaming. She knew of an imminent communist revolution but was completely unprepared for this sort of violence. In trying to find out why this happened she ran to a local magistrate and with tears in her eyes said, “I was teaching the catechism to my children and men came in and killed some of them!” The magistrate replied, “I know it. I sent them.” This event was a front-runner to the beginning of the communist overthrow of the Russian government, that we now know under the leadership of Stalin has been the culprit in the mass murder of an estimated 15-20 million souls within a very short time span.
On October 13th, 1917, a man by the name of Eugenio Pacelli was ordained a Bishop in the great city of Rome. There were celebrations everywhere. And little did the people know that this young bishop would later go on to become one of the greatest opponents to the regime in Russia that were responsible for such atrocities. So vast was his opposition that a death plot was later placed on him and a young soldier was sent to his room and through a rouse was able to enter his room and hid behind a curtain with a gun. When Bishop Pacelli entered the room the assailant nervously aimed the gun and ended up throwing it at the Bishop where it struck his pectoral cross. The Bishop picked up the gun and handed it back to his would-be killer and said, “kill me if you wish, I am only interested in the souls of my people.” Running out of the room, the assailant had to explain to his overseer why Pacelli was still alive and why the soon to be Pope Pius XII was afraid of absolutely nothing. Pope Pius XII would go on to consecrate the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942 and in 1952, he specifically consecrated the people of Russia to that same Immaculate Heart. This Pope would then go on to declare the Assumption of Mary an official dogma of the Church in 1950 and proclaimed Her Queenship throughout his pontificate. (A little-known fact is that Ven. Fulton Sheen was actually gifted the very pectoral cross that Pius XII wore that night.)
Which then brings us to October 13th, 1917 in the small little village of Fatima, Portgual. Known for its simple people and their farms. In this simple village three little children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, were gathered expecting a revelation of Our Lady. They had been receiving visions from Her and that something special was intended to happen on this very day. In true subversive form as Christ the warrior consistently has done, He sends His mother to three simple farm children. One of the most shocking things the children told the local people was that this Woman who had been appearing to them over the course of several months predicted that the war the world was under would end in a little over a year. And then Our Lady told the children to tell the world that there would be a great era of peace if only the world would return to God and Russia would be converted. But, if the world does not return to God, there will be a second world war even worse than the first. Yet even among this harrowing prediction, Our Lady promised that in the end, God will triumph. But there had to be a sign that this prediction and these revelations were true. So, on this day in 1917, an estimate of 70,000 people gathered in the place where the children stated She would appear. Interestingly, a large number of these attendees were atheists, anarchists, and anti-clerics. The proof of these revelations then occurred. The sun began to spin, it turned silver, shot sparks and descended among the people. In great fear the people screamed out to God to save them. It was raining that day and even though they had soaked clothes, after the sun descended their clothes and the earth was dry as bone. Even the testimonies given by the atheists and anti-clerics stated as much although they hoped people wouldn’t resort to religion to give reason for the occurrence.
These three events which all occurred one-hundred years ago today, still mark a great subversive revolution. While the world was ripping itself apart through famine, war, and ideological chaos, Our Lady works a great miracle through the word of three simple children. While the beginnings of the atheistic communist social upheaval are underway in the East, a young man receives a great gift of the Holy Spirit in the West. While a simple catechist is shocked, dismayed, and covered in the blood of her students, 70,000 people are shocked, dismayed, and through a miracle, are dried of rainwater. While warfare blinded and crippled people across the world, sight was given and healings were innumerable on that day in the little village of Fatima. Our Lady was fighting a war on that day in 1917, and we can now see Her subversive activities to fight the brokenness and sin of this world.
Interestingly, a fourth occurrence that same year, a young Englishman named J.R.R. Tolkien is recovering from a bout of trench fever after fighting at the battle of the Somme and on October 13th, 1917 is deemed unfit to return to the front for at least six months and is given a desk job, which very well may have saved his life. That same Englishman, who had a deep devotion to Our Lady, would later go on to write one of the greatest epics since Homer, in which an insignificant little creature is given the great task of saving the world.
To this day Fatima is a place of great devotion and pilgrimage. A place of prayer and repentance. A place of celebration. For it was here that the Lady of the Rosary commanded Her army of subversives throughout the world. It was here that the great message of peace was resounded and that peace can never come from politics or war, but rather simplicity and great devotion to God. May today be a reminder to all of us that we are all kings and queens in exile. That our true home is not of this world and that Our Lady comes to us through the most vulnerable. What we must strive to attain is a reconciliation of our relationship with God, which Christ achieved on the Cross so long ago, and as long as we repent of our wrongdoings and seek intimacy with Him, we may not be able to create a material kingdom on this planet, but we can change our hearts which is where the real battles must be fought.
May Our Lady of Fatima continue to call all of us closer to Her Son and may we proudly proclaim Her Queen of Heaven and Earth!