Since my post on Fátima back in February I realized just how little I really knew about the apparitions. I suddenly remembered that an acquaintance of mine, who had known Sr. Lucia for a number of years, had recommend quite some time ago that I read the “Critical Documentation of Fátima” if I wished to know more.
I managed to find an abridged version (only 600+ pages), which still has a good quantity of eyewitness reports, the findings of the canonical commission that investigated the apparitions, etc. Reading it has made me appreciate Fátima; it has helped to put it in a new light.
I think father prior would appreciate the liturgical providence associated with Fátima: the first apparition took place in May, and the final in October, both Marian months par excellence; the final apparition took place on a Saturday, the weekday associated with Mary. To further emphasize the liturgical providence, May 13th was initially the dedication of the basilica of Our Lady of the Martyrs in Lisbon, a rather important feast day in Lisbon (at the time Fátima was incorporated in the patriarchate of Lisbon). Those curious about the story of the basilica, and why it is so important, can easily find out by a quick internet search.
This was not the first time Our Lady had appeared near Fátima, as there is a story of her appearing to a shepherd girl in the 17th century during a famine (incidentally, Sr. Lucia’s mother recalled having told her daughter this story and was initially afraid that it might had affected her). Not too far from Fátima is the monastery of the Batalha, formerly a Dominican monastery dedicated to Our Lady of Victories.
I found in the documentation a prayer later approved by the bishop of Leiria. Our Lady is the Queen of Portugal – our first king dedicated in perpetuity all the realm and peoples in it to the blessed Virgin Mother, and after Portugal regained its independence from Spain in the 17th century the monarchs never wore a crown again, having donated it to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, proclaiming her as true queen of Portugal. This prayer is addressed to her as our Queen. It was written during the time of the 1st Republic, which tried to stamp out Catholicism, and so it is an appeal to her as Queen and Mother to rekindle the faith in her people. I post it here for those interested. It is a prayer well worth praying, especially on the eve of the centenary, when suddenly priests and bishops decide to come forward saying that the apparitions never took place (see here and here).
Virgem Imaculada, que pelo vosso santo Rosário extinguistes outrora
no seio da Igreja a nefasta heresia dos Albigenses, por ele libertastes a
cristandade do perigo muçulmano e robustecestes a piedade dos fiéis;
extingui também no povo português pela prática mais intensa da vossa
devoção os germens de morte que fazem definhar a sua Fé, libertai-o de
todos os perigos internos e externos que ameaçam a pureza de seus
costumes, fortalecei-o mais e mais, fazendo rejuvenescer nele o genuíno
espírito de piedade que no passado o fez um povo cristianíssimo,
fidelíssimo e evangelizador.
E já que por uma inefável prova de celestial predileção vos dignastes
visitar este povo que se ufana de ser vassalo vosso, mostrando-lhe dos
montes da Fátima quão caro é ao vosso Coração, não deixeis nunca,
Mãe amorosíssima, de o acalentar com esse mesmo amor de predileção.
Descansai sobre ele olhares de misericórdia, fazei-lhe sentir mais e mais
vossa suavíssima proteção e os doces atrativos do vosso Coração que
é coração de mãe.
Abençoai, ó Virgem Imaculada, a terra que vos dignastes visitar, atraí
a vós todos os portugueses, patenteai-lhes os tesoiros do vosso amor,
revelai-lhes os arcanos de vosso Coração materno, fazei de cada coração
português um órgão que vibre de amor por vós e de Portugal inteiro um
Santuário de amor que corresponda com seu filial afeto ao vosso carinho
maternal e assim mereça agora e sempre ser chamado – a Terra de
Santa Maria. – Assim seja.