Our Lady of Fatima
In our church
We devote the month of May to the Virgin Mary. We celebrate Mary as the mother of God and the mother of His Church, and it is an opportunity to think about the way in which she listened to and accepted God’s call.
Normally we do this by singing hymns about Mary, with special prayers and by a procession around the church.
We can’t do that this year, so it is a really good time to learn about a time when Mary felt very close to a community in Portugal: Our Lady of Fatima.
Fatima is a village in central Portugal. In May 1917, three young children were watching over sheep in the hills around Fatima when they had a vision. They saw a woman dressed in white who told them she was the Lady of the Rosary (that is, the Blessed Virgin Mary) and she urged them to pray for peace. In all, the children had six visions of the Virgin, and they heard three prophecies.
The children were Lucia das Santos (9 years old) and her cousins Francisco Marto (8 years old) and Jacinta Marto (6 years old). All three were made saints by Pope Francis in 2017, on the 100th anniversary of their visions.
Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta are remembered every year on 13 May, the date of their first vision.
You can see a clip from a 1952 Warner Brothers film about the children here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9lnLusZ6h0
God acts in the world and can speak to us in all sorts of ways. It might be through visions and blinding light, but perhaps more often He is a quiet voice that comes to us when we stop to listen in prayer. You’ve probably never had a vision such as the three children described, but perhaps someone has said something to you unexpected that seems very important.
I remember when I was about 15 years old, a friend at school said something to me that was completely out of the blue and unlike anything he had ever said before, or did so afterwards. It has stayed with me ever since, and I have often wondered if God was acting through my friend at that time.
The story of the three children reminds us that God often choses to work through the humble, the poor and the faithful rather than those who have great power and influence in the world. Indeed, God did not choose a powerful princess or wealthy person for the most important job imaginable – being mother to His only Son. Instead, He chose Mary – the humble young girl whose grace, faith and trust in God led her to hear and accept God’s call.
Hail Mary, full of grace!
Things to do at home
Reading and thinking
Our lives are full of noise, distraction and business – even when we can’t go out to see friends or play as much as before.
Make time to be like the three children in Fatima. Be still, quiet, patient and listen – what do you hear?
Making and doing
One of the church’s traditions during May is to crown a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Spring is bursting all around us. Collect blossom, daisies, buttercups and twigs to make a spring crown for Mary.
Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were moved to pray for peace. What is your prayer for peace?
God of love,
turn our hearts to your ways;
and give us peace.
(Church of England, Prayers for the World)