During the General Audience, Pope Francis urges the faithful to pray to Our Lady, reminding us that 13 May is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
“Today we celebrate the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Fatima,” said Pope Francis in his greetings to Polish-speaking listeners at the weekly General Audience.“We turn our thoughts to the apparitions and its message transmitted throughout the world,” he added.
Pope Francis recalled the attack on the life of Pope St. John Paul II. He pointed out that his predecessor experienced “the maternal intervention of the Holy Virgin” in sparing his life.
The Pope also said that Monday, 18 May, marks the 100th anniversary of JPII’s birth. The Pope said he will celebrate his morning Mass on the altar over the Saint’s tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica. “Let us thank God for giving us this saintly Bishop of Rome,” he said, “and ask him to help us: that he might help this Church of Rome to convert and strive ahead.”
Pope Francis then went on to pray for peace in the world, the end of the coronavirus pandemic, and the spirit of penance and conversion for the world through the intercession of Our Lady.
The Pope invited the Italian-speaking faithful to have constant recourse to Our Lady’s help, so that everyone might persevere in the love of God and neighbour. He prayed especially for the young, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds.
Invitation to pray the Rosary
In his greetings to the Portuguese-speaking faithful, Pope Francis urged Catholics to try to live out this month of May with a more intense and faithful daily prayer. He reminds us that the prayer of the Rosary is one of the desires repeatedly expressed by the Madonna at Fatima. “Under her protection, the pains and afflictions of life will be more bearable,” he said.
Love of neighbour
Addressing the German-speaking faithful, Pope Francis reminded us that the many examples of the love of God for us are a “strong invitation to love all the people we meet,” especially in this time of social-distancing due to Covid-19. He prayed that the Holy Spirit might fill us with charity and joy.
Our Lady of Fatima
Between May and October 1917, Our Lady appeared several times to three Portuguese children – Francisco and Jacinta Marto, and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, in a cove near Fatima, in Portugal. In those apparitions, Our Lady asked the children to pray the Rosary for the world and for the conversion of sinners.
On May 13, the Church celebrates the anniversary of the appearance of Mary to three shepherd children in the town of Fatima, in Portugal, in 1917. Between May 13 and October 13 of that year, Mary appeared six times to brother and sister Francisco, 8, and Jacinta, 6, and their cousin Lucia, 9.
On May 13, 1917, the three children were in the field when they saw a “woman all in white, more brilliant than the sun.” She told the children, “Please don’t be afraid of me, I’m not going to harm you.” When Lucia asked her where she came from, she told them, “I come from Heaven.” Our Lady wore a white mantle, edged with gold, and carried a rosary. She asked the children to pray and devote themselves to the Holy Trinity, and “to say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”
Over the course of her appearances, Mary revealed that the children would suffer, especially from the unbelief of their families, and that the two young children, Francisco and Jacinta, would be taken to Heaven, but Lucia would live longer, to spread the message of devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
When she appeared for the last time, Mary told Lucia, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” That day, 70,000 people turned out to witness the apparition, because Mary had promised that she would show the people the apparitions were true. The crowd saw the sun make three circles, moving around the sky in a zigzag movement, that left no doubt about the truth. By 1930, the Bishop had approved of the apparitions and the message, and the Church has declared them authentic.
Our Lady told the children about her concerns that the world would face war, starvation, and persecution of the Church in the 20th century if people did not make reparations for sin. She told the children, and the Church, to pray and offer sacrifices to God so that peace may be spread across the world.
Our Lady of Fatima also revealed three prophetic “secrets.” The first two were revealed earlier, referring to the vision of hell and the souls languishing, the request for an ardent devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the prediction of the Second World War, and finally the prediction of the damage Russia would do by embracing Communism and rejecting Christianity.
The third secret was revealed in 2000 — “The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.” This has been interpreted to include the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, which happened on May 13, the 64th anniversary of the apparitions.
According to VaticanNews, Pope St. John Paul II visited Fatima three times – in 1982, 1991 and 2000. During his 2000 visit, he beatified Jacinta and Francisco. The liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated on 13 May annually.