- Dec 9, 2019
Speaking in Fatima, Portugal, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared 100 years ago and offered secrets and revelations to three shepherd children, two of whom were declared saints on Saturday, Pope Francis warned a half-million people not to lead a life that profanes God, because doing so puts one on the path to Hell.
The “third secret of Fatima” refers to a message during the apparitions predicting suffering and persecution of the Pope and the Church. Unlike the first two secrets – a vision of hell and a prediction of World War II – the third secret was not initially revealed by Sister Lucia, one of the three children Mary visited in 1917.
On his first day in Fatima, Pope Francis said that God’s mercy always has to be put before judgement, and that insisting on the punishing of sins without first speaking about them being forgiven by his mercy, is doing a “great injustice” to God’s grace. Francis’s words came as he addressed a crowd participating in a prayer service on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima to three young, illiterate shepherds.
While the Fatima shrine in Portugal is primarily about the Blessed Virgin Mary and her appearances to three shepherd children, it also has a history with papal assassination attempts, including two attacks on St. John Paul II in 1981 and 1982.
In the great slaughterhouse of the twentieth century, the sheer scale of lethal evil, organized above all in the communist regimes, appeared to have loosed Satan himself in the world. In this context, the apparitions of Fatima were addressed directly to the wickedness of the twentieth century, as well as to the wickedness of sin that lurks in all of history.
The message for those who see Fatima as a message that God loves the simple ones, is it’s a reminder of the basic traits of Christian life: Faith, hope, and charity; including prayer and penance and the need for conversion. On the other hand, there’s the darker and harder-edged Fatima, which played a part in Catholic attitudes during the Cold War.