The message of Fatima is most significant and important for the salvation of souls. However, the message of Fatima and Our Lady's appearance there, is also very important for the correct ordering of human society in this world. As Our Lady of Fatima pointed out, if mankind would listen to Her message, then the peaceful ordering of individuals, families, cities and countries and in fact the whole world, would be achieved. Such a claim for peace through all levels of society and throughout the whole world could only be achieved if enough individuals at every level of society cooperated in the plan. And this plan could only succeed if it were based on the designs of the Creator of mankind, Who has appointed Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, as King of kings and Lord of lords (Apocalypse 19:16). Jesus is King, not only of individuals but also of societies and the whole world. Therefore if this plan of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is Queen of Heaven and of earth, is to work, mankind must acknowledge the sovereign Kingship of Christ over all mankind. Thus one can understand that the prince of this world, as Jesus Christ referred to the devil, would not accept easily the destruction of his kingdom here on earth. Nor would the peace plan from Heaven be accepted by those men, associations and secret societies whose power and ill-gotten riches would be lost if the Peace plan from Heaven were put into effect. With this background we can better understand the following account of the opposition to the Message of Fatima that reared its ugly head even while the apparitions were going on. You can be sure that this opposition to Our Lady and Her message from Heaven has not ceased even in our own time.
The following article is a continuation of the one beginning in issue number seven, of the history of the opposition to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. The initial opposition came from the Mayor of Ourem and his allies. (Ourem is the county to which the Village of Fatima belonged.) The Mayor of Ourem was an atheist and a Freemason. He and his friends hoped to build a godless republic, and they regarded Catholicism as an adversary and a threat to their political power. To see an open manifestation of belief in God and in the Mother of God, among the people, embarrassed and infuriated the militant atheists. They were determined to suppress devotion to God and Our Lady, and they hoped to eradicate religion entirely from the lives of the people.
In the apparition of September 13, Our Lady had repeated her earlier promise to the children: "In October I will perform a miracle that will permit everyone to believe." On October 13, at least seventy thousand people were present at the site of the Apparition, and recent scientific studies of the photographs taken at the time tell us there were probably one hundred thousand people who witnessed the Miracle of the Sun. When Our Lady spoke to the three children on October 13, She asked that a chapel be built there, and She requested that the Rosary continue to be recited every day, and She promised that the war would end soon. When Lucy asked Her name, she replied, "I am the Lady of the Rosary." The children on this day also saw St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, Our Lady of Sorrows, and they saw Our Lord giving His blessing to the people. Lucy alone saw Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
It had been raining nearly twenty-four hours by the time it was noon on October 13, the day Our Lady had promised a miracle. Many thousands of people had journeyed to the Cova da Iria to be present at the Miracle. Many of them had traveled all night by foot and by donkey cart through heavy rain, from distant villages. Their clothes were wet and muddy from walking in the countryside and along roads which had been turned to mud by the rain. The people were from many different walks of life, rich and poor, educated and simple, and from many different professions including doctors and priests. There were people who believed in the apparitions at Fatima, and there were others who doubted. There were fervent Catholics and there were atheists who had come to mock. There were journalists who were there to record the event, some from atheistic journals who, while recording the event had no intention of convincing anyone of its reality and its supernatural origin. There were Christians who had been many years away from the Church and the Sacraments.
During the apparition, while Our Lady was speaking to the three children, the rain suddenly stopped, and the sun became visible, looking like a pale silver disc. Many witnesses testified that its light was so dim they could gaze at it without hurting their eyes. Then they saw the sun suddenly begin to spin and it began to radiate light of different colors of the rainbow in all directions. The people noticed that the faces and clothing of the others around them, and the scenery, were reflecting the changing colors that were coming from the sun. After watching it for about ten minutes, they saw the sun stop spinning and begin suddenly to fall towards the earth in a zig-zag motion. The people were terrified. They thought the sun was going to kill them all. It seemed to be the end of the world. And so they fell on their knees, and many asked God for pardon for their sins. Many conversions occurred. People who had been living bad lives had their lives transformed by the grace that they received by going to Fatima that day and seeing the Miracle of the Sun. People who had ridiculed religion for many years returned to the Faith. At a certain moment the sun stopped its earthward motion and resumed its normal place in the sky. When the people got up from their knees, they noticed that their clothes, which had been soaked by the heavy rain of the last twenty-four hours, and muddied from traveling over the countryside by foot and kneeling in the mud at the Cova da Iria, had become dry and clean in an instant.
But even more amazing and more significant was the instantaneous cure of many incurably ill persons who had come to the Cova da Iria that day, fulfilling the promise Our Lady had made that sick persons would be cured at the occasion of the great Miracle at Fatima. The cures still take place at Fatima to this day, and the medical bureau there, like at Lourdes, investigates thoroughly any cure that is claimed at Fatima.
The Miracle of the Sun was seen not only by the crowd at the Cova da Iria, but by many individuals as far as forty kilometers away.
In a pastoral letter on the Apparitions in 1930, D. Jose Alves Correia da Silva, the Bishop of Leiria, said:
"The solar phenomenon of October 13, described in newspapers of the time, was the most marvelous and caused the deepest impression on those who had the good fortune to witness it.
The children had foretold the day and the hour at which it would occur. The news spread rapidly throughout Portugal, and in spite of bad weather and the abundant rainfall thousands and thousands of people congregated at the spot. At the hour of the last Apparition they witnessed all the manifestations of the sun which paid homage to the Queen of Heaven and earth, more brilliant than the heavenly body itself at its zenith of light.
This phenomenon, which was not registered in any astronomical observatory, and could not, therefore, have been of natural origin, was witnessed by people of every category and class, by believers as well as unbelievers, journalists of the principal daily papers and even by individuals kilometers away, a fact which destroys any theory of collective hallucination."
FATIMA APPARTIONS MOCKED BY FREEMASONS...
OCTOBER 1917 OPPOSITION BY THE MILITANT ATHEISTS-- After the Miracle of the Sun, the faithful felt there was reason to believe that the enemies of religion in Portugal would postpone their attacks against the Church. But the enemies of religion retaliated with greater fury and disrespect. Father De Marchi, an authority on Fatima, wrote the following account:
"In the general area around Fatima, the focal point of undisciplined prejudice could be found at the Masonic Lodge at Santarem, a town not far away. Here the bigots, at the cost of some pain and planning, made plans for a mock religious procession which would satirize and by some means not exactly clear to themselves expose the alleged wonders of Fatima as a fraudulent imposition on the gullibility of the people."During the night of October 23rd, some men from Santarem joined with some others from Vila Nova de Ourem and then continued on to the Cova da Iria. A newspaper of that time, Diario de Noticias records the event as follows:
"With an axe they cut the tree under which the three shepherd children stood during the famous phenomenon of the 13th of this month. They took away the tree, together with a table on which a modest altar had been arranged, and on which a religious image (of Our Lady) had been placed. They also took a wooden arch, two tin lanterns, and two crosses, one made of wood and the other of bamboo-cane wrapped in tissue paper."Lucy refers to this event:
"Meanwhile the Government did not leave things where they stood. In the place of the Apparitions people had put an arch and lanterns which were kept alight. One night some men came in a motor car to tear down the arch and to cut the tree where the Apparitions had taken place. In the morning the news spread rapidly and I ran to see if it was true. Imagine my joy when I saw that those wretched men had made a mistake and instead of taking the real tree (which was by then nothing but a small trunk) they had cut one of the saplings nearby. I asked Our Lady to forgive them, and I prayed for their conversion."The men took the objects which they had taken from the Cova da Iria, and placed them on exhibition in a house not far from the Seminary at Santarem, and charged an entrance fee to people who wanted to come and be entertained at this joke of the militant atheists against the devotion of the people. But they were disappointed to find that not everyone agreed it was amusing. Even many of the Church's active critics found it disgusting. Later, in the evening of that day, a blasphemous "procession" was held by the militant atheists. A newspaper of the time gives the account:
"The parade was headed by two men thumping on drums, while just behind it came the famous tree on which The Lady is said to have appeared. Next came the wooden arch, with its lanterns alight, then the altar-table and other objects which the faithful had placed upon it at the Cova da Iria. To the sound of blasphemous litanies the procession passed through the principal streets of the city, returning to the S?da Bandeira Square, at which point it broke up."Many of the demonstrators reorganized on the street not far away and were about to start parading again when a woman, from a window above them, dropped a pail of water on their heads. A local policeman was also drenched and a considerable commotion followed. A number of policemen came along and dispersed the gathering. The newspaper account continues:
"The affair was a disgrace. How is it possible that the authorities tolerate such a thing while at the same time refusing permission for the processions of the Church to which nearly the whole population belongs and whose ceremonies in no way offend the religious convictions of others?"The general reaction among the people, both Catholic and non-Catholic, was one of revulsion. Literate and intelligent Catholics did not allow themselves to be intimidated by either anti-Catholic government policy nor the bigotry and force of their Masonic antagonists. Protests came from all parts of the country of Portugal. A group of educated Catholics of Santarem published a letter in defense of the Catholic Faith and the honor we owe to God, to the Mother of God and to the Cross of Christ. The letter reads as follows:
"As believers, and sons of a nation which has been made great by the faith of its warriors and the heroism of its saints; as citizens of a city which has been in the forefront of civilization and culture, we strongly and earnestly protest against the scandalous processions tolerated by the public authorities, which, on the night of the 24th of this month passed through the streets of Santarem. In this procession, which was worthy only of savages, the objects stolen from a place where people gather with the most pacific of intentions, were shamelessly exhibited. It took place in the presence of the whole population which, however was disgusted at this degrading action on the part of a few people who can only be called pustules of our society. The Cross of Our Redeemer ... and the image of the Virgin who has presided over our destinies in all periods of our history, were held up to sacrilege and profanation. The Litany of Our Lady, whose name is the strength and comfort of our soldiers on the field of battle, was drunkenly intoned by the organizers of this satanic orgy. There has not been in living memory such a repugnant attack on the faith of our people, directed against the traditions and dignity of a nation which prides itself on its respect for the beliefs of others. It is impossible for us not to raise our voices against such flagrant provocation, and to repudiate this horrible parody with the greatest energy. Impossible not to make public our bitterness of heart in face of such an attack on the faith of our fathers and our own; an attack also on the honor of this city on the part of a few miserable youths. If we did not publish our disclaimer, we should be considered at home and abroad as the most cowardly and unworthy of Portuguese. We, therefore, proclaim blessed, the Cross of Christ which in other days rode the seas with our caravels when they went forth to conquer new worlds for the Faith and for civilization. We also proclaim blessed, the great Protectress of Portugal who, through the troubles and trials of our history has watched with maternal solicitude over our destiny. May God forgive these impious men, destitute of all decent feeling, who blaspheme her adorable name, and may He withhold the punishment which would justly fall on a nation which consented to such crimes."In response to the letter, the Portuguese Federation of Free Thinkers retorted with a manifesto addressed "to all liberal-minded Portuguese" against "the ridiculous comedy of Fatima", which they ascribed to an ecclesiastical plot to unite Church and state and restore diplomatic relations with the Vatican. The writer went so far as to declare that miracles ought to be punished like transgressions against city ordinances, since they were violations of the laws of nature. The manifesto was printed as a pamphlet and circulated throughout Portugal by the Freemasons.
Santarem, 28th October, 1917
Signed "A Group of Catholics."
"As if the pernicious propaganda of reactionaries were not enough, we now see a miracle trotted out in order further to degrade the people into fanaticism and superstition,"He went on to condemn religious education:
"This, citizens, is a miserable and retrograde attempt to plunge the Portuguese people once more into the dense darkness of past times..."
"... raise the mentality of our co-citizens to the realms of Truth, Reason and Science, convincing them that nothing can alter the laws of Nature, and that the pretended miracles are nothing but miserable tricks ..."
"Let professors in the schools and colleges educate their pupils in a rational manner, liberating them from religious preconceptions as from all others, and we shall have prepared a generation for the morrow, happier because more worthy of happiness."And finally he declared his atheistic belief of Freemasonry:
"Let us, then, liberate ourselves and cleanse our minds, not only from foolish beliefs in such gross and laughable tricks as Fatima, but more especially from any credence in the supernatural and a pretended Deus Omnipotente (all-powerful God), omniscient and omni-everything, instrument of the subtle imaginations of rogues who wish to capture popular credulity for their purposes."He concluded with:
"Long live the Republic! Down with Reaction! Long live Liberty!"Father De Marchi comments on the results of the efforts of the Freemasons to discredit the Fatima apparitions:
"In their almost satanic anxiety to demolish Fatima as rapidly as possible, and to finish once and for all with so-called "Jesuitical inventions", these unfortunates contributed in no small manner to the unexpected and almost sensational increase of faith in the miracle and to the rebirth of religion in the Terra de Santa Maria."(Portugal) Senhor Jos?Val? editor of the Portuguese newspaper O Mundo was an atheist and a political anarchist who tried his best to discredit the apparitions of Fatima. He instigated a gathering of anti-clericals to assemble on the following Sunday outside the Fatima church,
"there and then to unmask the pious comedy of the children and their fantastic Lady-in-the-Sky."The parish priest, Father Ferreira, arranged for Mass to be said that Sunday in the Chapel of Our Lady of Ortigo, rather than at Fatima. For the safety of the three children - Lucy, Jacinta and Francisco, the parish priest decided they ought not to remain in Aljustrel in this critical time, and a young nobleman, Dom Pedro Caupers, who was staying at a farm estate 6 kilometers away, warmly received the children and certain members of their families. So there was no one present in Fatima when Jos?Val? the Mayor Arturo Santos, some strong-arm guards and a variety of friends of Jos?Val? arrived at the square in front of the parish Church. The people of the village were away at Mass in the Ortiga church, and the only person they were able to find was the parish regedor. Senhor Val?was humiliated by the frustration of his plan, but he rallied his band for a march on the Cova da Iria, intending to stage a mock-pilgrimage. A man from Lomba da Egua, who believed in the apparitions, prepared an audience for Senhor Val?and his men. He assembled a variety of donkeys, tied each one of them to a tree, and placed under the nose of each donkey a small quantity of a certain chemical that caused them to bray with loud and comic effect just when Senhor Val?and his men arrived. Maria Carreira, who was one of the early supporters of the apparitions at Fatima, gave the following testimony:
"We did our best to annoy them, and they knew it very well. When I arrived with two of my neighbors at 11:30 that morning we hid near the place where the Chapel of Penance was later to be built. Three men, who were our friends, had climbed an oak tree to watch the demonstrators. One of the demonstrators then began to preach against religion, and every time he said something especially offensive, we would answer, "Blessed be Jesus and Mary!" A boy, perched in another tree, began to say the same thing in response to their insults, and they became so furious at us that they sent two of their guards down after us, but we ran away through the trees and they could not find us."After awhile men and boys who had been to Mass at the Ortigo chapel came by, and shouts were exchanged between them and the speakers and the guards. Again the guards ran after the people, but they were unable to catch them. After awhile Senhor Val?and his men went off in the direction of Fatima.