Members of St. George Catholic Church will be coming to the downtown court square on Saturday to pray a rosary for world peace.
The time of prayer will be in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Fatima to the three Portuguese children. On May 13, 1917, the children – Jacinta Marto, 7; her brother, Francisco Marto, 9; and their cousin, Lucia Santos, 10 – reported encountering the Virgin Mary.
The children were “on their way home from tending a flock of sheep,” said Deacon Steve Beers of St. George. “Mary told the children that she would reappear to them on the 13th day of each the next five months.
“Over the next five months, the three children experienced the disbelief and harassment that often accompanies sensational claims such as they made,” Beers related.
Despite the disbelief of others, newspapers printed articles about the children, and thousands of people showed up on each of the following 13ths – June, July, August and September. “Mary told the children that she would perform a miracle such as all who saw would believe on her final appearance,” on Oct. 13, 1917, Beers said.
The Oct. 13 event is known as the Miracle of the Sun, “Upwards of 100,000 people gathered on a rain-soaked field in Fatima, Portugal to witness the event,” Beers said.
The children were late in coming because they had been detained by the authorities who wanted nothing to do with the claimed revelations and wanted the children to recant what they had said.
“The children were finally released, and returned to the field wherein Mary said she would appear. As they settled in and began praying the rosary, they said that Mary appeared to them and told them to look at the sun. While none of the people in attendance other than the children claimed to see the Virgin Mother, all in attendance saw the thundering clouds rapidly dissipate and the sun commence spinning and dancing, changing colors and, seemingly, crashing toward the now frightened crowd of onlookers,” Beers explained.
In 10 minutes it was all over, but the remaining vestige was that there was no mud or traces of water from the downpours that had preceded the arrival of the children and the solar miracle.
“As with most occurrences of claimed visions or miracles, there are proponents on both sides, those who believe not needing any further proof of the miracle, and the skeptics for whom no proof is possible and many explanations rendered,” Beers said.
“There is no requirement for belief, even within the Catholic Church, which says only that the visions are worthy of belief,” Beers said.
The message recited by the children is one of God’s love for the world, amid a continuing need for prayer to combat the evil of Satan as he tries to convert God’s creation to his own evil purposes. “In her appearances to Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, prayer, particularly the rosary, is the vehicle touted by Our Lady as the most effective ‘Weapon of Mass Construction’ to stay safe from the devil,” Beers said.
The children said Mary told them to pray for World War I to end and that, if they didn’t, even greater catastrophic war would occur. “She also predicted the rise of the Russian Bear, but its eventual capitulation through the prayerful power of God’s people,” Beers said.
Pope St. John Paul II had a powerful dedication to Our Lady of Fatima, and, even before an assassination attempt against him, predicted that Mary of Fatima would save him from a violent death.
“So, now at the 100th anniversary of the sixth and final appearance of Our Lady to the children of Fatima, we gather to remember her warnings and her promises,” Beers said. “To do this, those interested in either joining in prayer or being in observation of the belief of others will gather throughout the world this weekend to remember the promises made to the children and to us.”
The gathering on the court square will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. Members of St. George will be available to answer questions about the 1917 events and their effect during the last 100 years.