alternate language
May 10, 2017

Our Lady of Fatima's 3 Secrets: What You Should Know About the Fatima Centennial

Our Lady of Fatima CentennialWho is Our Lady of Fatima?

Our Lady of Fatima is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in connection with her apparitions to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady of Fatima told the shepherd children to pray the rosary daily for the end of the war (World War I). Mary continued to appear once a month for 6 months to the three children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. In October of 1930, the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima approved the visions as “worthy of belief.”


Timeline and Summary of the Message of Fatima:

Angelic apparitions of Fatima

  • The first angelic visit – Spring 1916: The Angel teaches the shepherd children how to pray.
  • The second angelic visit – Summer 1916: The Angel reveals himself as the Angel of Portugal and motivates the children to continue praying and to offer as a sacrifice their suffering to the Lord.
  • The third angelic visit – Autumn 1916: The Angel brings communion to the shepherd children and asks them to make reparation for the crimes of “ungrateful men.”


News coverage of the miracle of the sun, Our Lady of FatimaMarian apparitions

  • The first Marian apparition of Fatima – May 13th 1917: Mary asks the children to return on the 13th each month for 6 months. Mary tells the children they will suffer much, but will reach Heaven. She then asks the children to say the rosary every day to bring peace to the world.
  • The second Marian apparition of Fatima – June 13th 1917: Mary asks the children to add the Fatima prayer to the end of each decade of the Rosary. They ask for her to take them to Heaven and she replies “Soon I will take Jacinta and Francisco, but Lucia is to stay a while longer.”
  • The third Marian apparition of Fatima – July 13th 1917: Mary shows the children a vision of Hell and reveals that God wishes for there to be a great devotion the Mary’s Immaculate Heart to save souls from Hell. She then predicted the Second World War and the persecution of the faithful in Russia warning that without prayer and consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart “she [Russia] will spread her errors throughout the entire world, fomenting wars and persecution of the Church.”
  • The fourth Marian apparition of Fatima – August 19th 1917: The local administrator imprisons the children to prevent them from making their appointment with Mary. 6 days later she appears to them in a pasture and asks them, “Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners. For many souls go to Hell because there is no one to pray for them.”
  • The fifth Marian apparition of Fatima – September 13th 1917: A crowd witnesses white rose petals falling from the sky and then disappearing as Lucia asked Our Lady of Fatima to cure the sick. She replies that only some will be cured while the Lord “has no confidence” in others who were not healed.
  • The sixth Marian apparition of Fatima – October 13th 1917: 70,000 – 100,000 people witness “The Miracle of the Sun” from up to 10 miles away. Secular news reporters present for the miracle reported unexplainable phenomenon. Mary reveals herself as the Lady of the Rosary and says, “People must amend their lives, ask forgiveness for their sins and not offend Our Lord any more for He is already too much offended.”


The visionary children of Fatima Lucia, Francisco & JacintaWhat happened to the shepherd children?

  • Francisco dies of the flu at age 11 – 1919
  • Jacinta dies of complications of the flu at age 10 – 1920
  • Lucia leaves Fatima for boarding school – 1921
  • Lucia becomes Sr. Mary of the Sorrowful Mother – October 3rd 1934
  • Lucia joins the Discalced Carmelites taking the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart – May 31st 1949


Our Lady of Fatima appears to Lucia

Mother Mary continued to appear to Sr. Lucia many times, but three particular instances stand out.
  • Request for the 1st Saturday devotion – December 10th 1925
  • Request to spread the First Saturday Devotion – February 15th 1926
  • Request for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – June 1929

The 3 Secrets

Many people may have heard of the secrets of Fatima. There are three of these so-called secrets which were parts of the message Mary revealed to the shepherd children that were not immediately made public. This is especially true with the third secret of Fatima, which Lucia only revealed when directly ordered to do so by her bishop in an act of holy obedience. The three secrets of Fatima are:

  1. A vision of the souls in Hell.
  2. Prediction of the end of WWI and a prediction of the beginning of WWII as well as a request to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  3. A vision of the Pope, along with other bishops, priests, religious and lay people, being killed by soldiers.

Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, cautioned the faithful against reading the third secret in a way that predicts a future event. Many theories arose around the publishing of the third secret, and Cardinal Ratzinger responded to these theories by saying.

“The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore we must totally discount fatalistic explanations of the “secret”, such as, for example, the claim that the would-be assassin of 13 May 1981 was merely an instrument of the divine plan guided by Providence and could not therefore have acted freely, or other similar ideas in circulation. Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them.”


The Fatima prayer and the rosary - Our Lady of FatimaResponding to Our Lady

  • The faithful begin praying the Fatima Prayer at the end of each decade of the Rosary following the approval of Fatima by the Church – October 1930
  • Pope Pius XII consecrates “the world and Russia” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – 1942
  • Pope John Paul II consecrates “the world including Russia” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – 1984

Celebrations for the Our Lady of Fatima Centennial

The most notable celebration of the Fatima centennial will no doubt be the canonization of two of the visionaries of Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, as saints by Pope Francis during his visit to Portugal. Excluding martyrs, Francisco and Jacinta will be the youngest saints ever canonized. It will take some time before Lucia can be canonized as she was much older and lived a longer life filled with works and writings that must be reviewed before the Church can declare her a saint.

Many parishes and diocese all around the world are planning special celebrations to commemorate this 100th year anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima. Here in our own Archdiocese of Portland, in Oregon, Archbishop Alexander Sample will preside over a Fatima celebration, following a pilgrimage from five different locations throughout Portland, which will converge on St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.


A call to prayer

Our Lady of Fatima urgently desired for all of faithful to pray daily for the salvation of poor sinners, and for the whole world. That message from Our Mother Mary is a challenge – no matter where you are in your own personal prayer life – to go deeper, to pray often, and with greater fervor.

Some of us may not pray all that often except when in great need. Now, on this 100th anniversary of the first appearance of Our Lady of the Rosary, perhaps it is time to dust off that rosary that has been sitting on the shelf since it was received at Confirmation.

Others of us may have a deep devotion to the rosary already, in which case the message of Fatima calls us to approach our prayer life with a new ardor. This new ardor would look differently for each individual, but may include things like adopting new devotional practices, recommitting ourselves to attentiveness during times of prayer, or perhaps even increasing the frequency of times dedicated to the Lord and Our Lady in prayer.

For those looking to adopt new or deeper devotional practices I’d like to suggest the following treasures of the OCP catalog. I say this not simply to highlight some of our products, but because I personally own three of these prayer resources and find them to be tremendously helpful. I’ve written a little review of each one. Each of these books also includes the mysteries of the Rosary and an explanation of how to pray the Rosary.


Book of Catholic Prayer Book of Catholic Prayer

Another excellent resource for a variety of prayers. This book includes a scriptural rosary with a verse citation for each mystery. There are also several other Marian devotions such as the Litany of Loreto and a beautiful prayer from our Byzantine Rite Catholics called the Acathist Hymn. Fr. Edmond Bliven really did a fantastic service to the Church in collecting these prayer texts.


A Contemplative Rosary: Leader's GuideA Contemplative Rosary: Leader’s Guide

A Contemplative Rosary is like the Catholic Prayer Supplement in that it can be enriching for an individual as well as a community. You can pop the CDs into your car and pray along with the rosary at any time – without taking your hands of the steering wheel. I’ve found this a helpful way to “baptize your commute” traffic can drain the human heart of charity, but driving along with Mama Mary can truly transform the nature of your commute, and you attitude when you get where you are going. A Contemplative Rosary also has a leader’s guide, and a CD-Rom with beautiful religious art to go along with your prayer time. These communal options can be used in a variety of ministerial settings.


In closing

I hope that these prospects might help you to respond to the call of Our Lady of Fatima to run to her in prayer. Even if you don’t avail yourself of these resources. Please do take this opportunity on the Centennial of Fatima to do penance and pray. Not at my request, but in response to the call of Our Mother Mary.

I’ve also included a list of 10 songs below to celebrate 100 years of Fatima and to help draw us deeper into a relationship with the Mother of God. The Centennial of Our Lady of Fatima will culminate on October 13th this year. Keep these songs and prayers in mind over the next 5 months. Share them on social media, email them to friends, text them to your relatives. Help spread Our Lady’s message in any way you can for poor souls and for the whole world.

Penance, penance, penance
Pray, pray, pray!

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.

Our Lady of Fatima.
Pray for Us!

10 Songs to celebrate 100 years of Fatima


Jethro Higgins
Jethro Higgins

Jethro Higgins, father of 6,  has Directed Youth & Young Adult ministry programs and led liturgical music ensembles since 2004. Jethro received his Master of Science in Business Analysis from the Catholic University of America and is currently studying at The Augustine Institute in the Master of Arts in Theology program.