The Vatican has finally disclosed the details of the third and final mystery of Fatima. In 1917, three young children in Portugal announced they were receiving visions of the Virgin Mary. It was claimed that as the mother of Jesus appeared to these children, she gave them three secrets of future events. During the more than 80 years that have elapsed since the alleged appearances, details of the first two secrets have been revealed. These were said to have foretold information surrounding the two World Wars and the fall of Soviet communism.

Many expected the third and final revelation to be momentous, perhaps even unveiling end-time events or the specifics of Jesus Christ’s return. The Associated Press reported that “Fatima fanatics have held hunger strikes — one even hijacked a plane — to try to coerce the Vatican to disclose the secret.” In the conclusion, however, the last prophecy said nothing as to the end of the world or the Second Coming. The secret only professed to disclose an event which already happened nearly two decades ago.

According to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the text of the Fatima secret “contains a prophetic vision similar to those found in sacred Scripture, which do not describe with photographic clarity the details of future events, but rather synthesize and condense against a unified background of events spread out over time in succession and a duration which are not specified. As a result, the text must be interpreted in a symbolic key.”

After establishing such clouded perimeters for understanding the prophecy, it was declared that the secret foretold the May 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II by a Turkish gunman at the Vatican. Sodano said the interpretation had been “confirmed” by Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, now 93, who is the last of the Fatima visionaries living. The revelation was said to state, “the ‘bishop clothed in white’ ... makes his way with great effort toward the cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (bishops, priests, men and women religious, and many lay persons), he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire.”

Despite the Nostradamus-like style of the prophecy, writer Frank Morriss, in the Catholic publication Wanderer, charged that “these revelations of Fatima so guaranteed by prophecy specifically fulfilled should surely be something for a needed reflection by the large portion of Christianity that withdrew from the Catholic tradition. Does not Protestantism need to wonder whether it has denied a source of religious understanding by its virtual abandonment of Mary?”

Sodano added: “After the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981, it appeared evident to His Holiness that it was ‘a motherly hand which guided the bullet’s path,’ enabling the ‘dying Pope’ to halt ‘at the threshold of death.’” Since the time of the assassination attempt, John Paul II had repeatedly given credit to “Our Lady of Fatima” for saving his life. The pontiff’s would-be, now penitent, assassin has also indicated a devotion to Mary. Upon his soon release from his Italian prison, his immediate plans include travel to Fatima to express thanks to the Virgin Mary for her intervention of his assassination plot against the pope.

The date May 13 is significant to the Fatima revelations. In addition to being the date of the assassination attempt against the pope, it was the day in 1917 which the three children received their first of six professed visions of the Virgin Mary. It now also marks the day in which the remaining secret was revealed.

The disclosure of this last vision was in conjunction with the pontiff’s visit to Fatima. His recent trip to Portugal was to beatify Francisco Marto and his younger sister Jacinta, the two deceased Fatima visionaries. In Catholicism, beatification is the last formal act prior to being “canonized” or declared to be a “Saint.” It can only be conferred after a person’s death. According to the Associated Press report, “The Vatican said the two are the first children who did not die as martyrs to be so honored.” The children both died as a result of the “Spanish influenza” epidemic within a few years of their purported Marian visions. Francisco died in 1919 at age 10, Jacinta the following year at age 9.

The current pope has expressed an ongoing devotion to Mary. Sodano said in his prepared speech that the pontiff “wishes his pilgrimage [to Fatima] to be a renewed gesture of gratitude to our Lady for her protection during these years of his papacy.” He concluded his remarks with, “Let us thank Our Lady of Fatima for her protection. To her maternal intercession let us entrust the Church of the Third Millennium.”

It was in October 1930 when the Catholic church sanctioned and supported the apparitions of Fatima, saying they were worthy of belief and endorsed devotion to “Our Lady of Fatima.”



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