The Secret of Fatima is a collection of revelations of the Virgin Mary to three Portuguese children: Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto – the three shepherds, on the 13th of July, 1917, in Cova da Iria.
From May to October 1917, the three children claim to have witnessed the appearance of “a Lady more brilliant than the sun.”
In Ratzinger’s point of view, expressed in a document dated 26th of June, 2000, the so-called “Secrets of Fatima” should be interpreted according to a “prophetic vision, similar to the Holy Scripture.”
THE FIRST SECRET
The first one was related to a vision of hell transmitted to the children and the loss of souls during the First World War. It would also have been communicated to the children by Our Lady during the third apparition, on the 13th of July, 1917.
Here is the transcript of Lúcia’s words, from 1941:
“Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant, and thanks to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising (in the first Apparition!), to take us to Heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.”
THE SECOND SECRET
The second secret – announced on the same day as the first one – said that if men did not amend themselves, they would suffer a hard punishment, in the form of an even more cruel war. It determined the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and anticipated the conversion of Russia.
Here follows the transcription, also from 1941:
“The war (First World War) is going to end, but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
THE THIRD SECRET
The speculation surrounding the so-called “third secret of Fatima” was immense. For four decades the most varied theories about its content arose. Theories reinforced by the fact that at least two Popes – John XXIII and Paul VI – had learned the text, allegedly communicated by Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children in third apparition on the 13th of July, 1917. It was said that the “third secret” worried these two Pontiffs so much that none of them wanted to share it with the hundreds of millions of believers from the Catholic world.
Among the most persistent rumours that began to circulate mainly in the 70s, the possible allusion to a nuclear war in the message was included. The violent death of a Pope or the rise of an imposter to the highest position in the Catholic Church were other recurrent theses of supposed connoisseurs of the secret, that remained well kept for 43 years in the secret archive of the Holy Office at the Vatican.
Unlike the rumours fed over the years by many delirious imaginings, there were no references to nuclear war, much less to a usurper supposed to sit at the Vatican.
But allegorically, the “third secret” mentioned a profound suffering and even the death of a Pope.
Here is the transcript of its contents:
“At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the Earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”