Catholics and believers worldwide will celebrate Saturday’s 100th anniversary of the first Fatima apparition in which the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared before three shepherd children in the remote village north of Lisbon, Portugal.
Many followers of the miraculous vision will be making a pilgrimage to the holy shrine visited by millions of people each year since the first apparition took place May 13, 1917.
Some even anticipate the possibility of a dramatic event occurring on the date this year.
The Lady of Fatima delivered messages during the visions on the 13th day of each month from May to October 1917 to Lucia dos Santos and her two young cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
May 13 has marked momentous events in the following years for the Church:
- An attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II mysteriously coincided with the anniversary of the first Fatima vision on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
- The pope visited Fatima exactly a year later and credited his survival to the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima, presenting the shrine with the assassin’s bullet that narrowly missed killing him.
- On the very day of the first apparition in 1917, Pope Pius XII had been ordained a bishop and later would become pontiff in 1939.
- Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit Fatima to celebrate the 50th anniversary on May 13, 1967.
The world was in turmoil during the 1917 apparitions with the ending of World War I and the beginning of the Communist revolution in Russia. The most riveting sign occurred on Oct. 13 when some 60,000 people witnessed the sun appearing to spin and nearly crash toward the ground, according to the Rev. George William Rutler, a Catholic priest, in FaithZette.
The strange apparition was confirmed by a New York Times reporter present at the event.
A three-part secret from Our Lady was revealed to the children on July 13, 1917, during the apparitions. These included a vision of Hell and a prayer to recite, a warning that Russia would bring calamity to the world if people did not convert, and a vision of conflict between clergy and soldiers only disclosed in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Lucia was 10 during the apparitions and died a nun at the age of 97 in 2005. Francisco, 9 at the time, and Jacinta, 7, died in 1919 and 1920, respectively, following the global influenza epidemic.
The Fatima incidents are considered among the most spectacular Marian apparitions along with Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a peasant girl, St. Bernadette, in 1858, and Guadalupe, where an appearance occurred several times northwest of Mexico City to St. Juan Diego in 1531.
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