If you are Catholic (and even if you’re not), you know that this is the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, perhaps the most significant apparitions of Our Lady in modern times. Why are they significant? Because what was seen and told to Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.
Reading Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s book Our Lady of Fatima 100 years of stories, prayers, and devotions, gave me insights into the story of those children that I had never heard before. I remember the movie as a child. I wasn’t Catholic then, but the story still fascinated me. Do you remember it?
I had been asked by the publisher if I would like to read the book in exchange for a review and accepted. What I read was a thoughtful and detailed account of the lives of Lucia and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco. Those children endured much for Our Lady. It’s hard to imagine that as an adult, I would be as faithful and and as able to endure as much as they did.
Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco were only nine, eight and six years old at the time when the Angel of Peace appeared to them (before Our Lady) and told them, “Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.” The angel taught them the following prayer:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.
The angel visited the children three times in the Cova da Iria where the children tended sheep for their families. The recounting of the angel’s visit is beautifully described by the author. We learn that the Angel of Peace came to prepare the children with prayer before Our Lady appeared to them.
When Our Lady does appear to the children for the first time on May 13, 1917, the first thing she tells them is, “Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm.” And so their journey began.
O’Boyle’s book recounts the children’s story from the first moment with the Angel of Peace to their deaths. Jacinta and Francisco died very young during a flu epidemic. Our Lady told the two siblings that they would go to heaven early and they were happy and accepting of it. The two gladly offered up their suffering for the souls of others! Lucia went on to become a nun and an unwavering voice for Our Lady of Fatima until her own death in February, 2005.
At the end of each chapter, the author has a reflection, a paragraph entitled, “In My Own Life,” (which asks questions of the reader’s own life in relation to the chapter), and a prayer.
The message of these 100 year old apparitions are needed today more than ever. Our Lady taught the children prayers and how to sacrifice in order to save souls which is something we so dearly need today. The lessons of Fatima must continue to be taught.
Whether you think you know everything about Fatima or nothing at all, this is the book to start your education on an apparition that is recognized throughout the world.
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