A Brief History
On May 13, 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish member of the Grey Wolves (ultranationalist Turkish neo-fascist organization), attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II by shooting the pontiff 4 times with a 9mm Browning semi-automatic pistol. The Pope survived and eventually forgave the attempted assassin. So far this incident was nearly tragic, but not all that exceptional, at least until John Paul II revealed the long held information about “Third Secret of Fátima” in June of 2000, telling the world that the assassination attempt had been the third prophesy foretold by three Portuguese children in 1917 when they claim the Virgin Mary had visited them 6 times. The third secret was turned over to the reigning Pope and held closely by each Pope and no one else in the 8+ decades after the visions, the source of much speculation and conspiracy theories ever since.
Lucia went on to become a nun, while her cousins died in the great influenza epidemic of 1919 and 1920. Lucia died in 2005. All three children were canonized as saints in the Catholic Church by Pope Francis in 2017.
The First Secret was a vision of Hell, as detailed in the passage below:
“Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. 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, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.”
The Second Secret predicted World War II and that it would begin during the reign of Pope Pius XI (he was Pope from 1922 to 1939) if Russia (then an atheistic communist Soviet Union) did not convert back to Christianity. Of course, this was written down in 1941 when the Second World War had already been in progress for a couple years. The text of the Second Secret is below:
“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In 1917, as the world reeled under the oppression of World War I, three Portuguese children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, reported the Marian visions and having been entrusted with three secrets by the vision of Mary, 2 of the secrets revealed at the behest of the local Bishop in 1941. In 1943, as Lucia was gravely ill and the world was again at war, the bishop again ordered Lucia to reveal the third secret so that she would not take the secret to her grave if she died from the illness, and although she wrote it down, it was sealed in an envelope and turned over to the Vatican in 1957, not to be revealed until 1960. The Vatican did not reveal the contents of the third secret until 2000 when Pope John Paul II told the world that the third secret concerned the trials of Christians in the 20th Century and that the attempt on the life of John Paul II was the centerpiece of the third secret. Below is a text of the Vatican press release:
“I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”
As is the case commonly concerning much ballyhooed “reveals” of long held secrets (such as the last secret portions of the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of President Kennedy), many people did not believe the information released was the entire text and/or that the text had been edited. The Vatican officially contends that the above text is the text of the letter written by Lucia Jacinto in its entirety.
What do you think? Were these visions genuine or the invention of young children? Are the messages clear enough, or are they purposely vague in a manner similar to the Quatrains of Nostradamus? Please tell us what you believe about the Secrets of Fátima and especially the Third Secret and its alleged message.
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For more information, please see…
Cooper O’Boyle, Donna-Marie. Our Lady of Fátima: 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions. Servant, 2017.
Preiss, John. The Miracle and the Message: 100 Years of Fátima. Our Sunday Visitor, 2017.