Monday 15 September 2014

The New Fatima Revelation in Closer Detail (Part One)

Sr. Lucia with Dom Jose Alves Correia da Silva, the Bishop of Leiria, in 1946

The recently published text detailing the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Sr. Lucia at her convent in Tuy, Spain, on 3rd January 1944, accords with an earlier account of the transmission of the secret given by renowned Fatima scholar Frere Michel de la Saint Trinite (the pen name of Dom François Marie Velut O. Carth, the Prior General of the Carthusians):

The dramatic account of the writing down and the transmission of this vital Message begins in 1943. The hour of providence had then struck. Sister Lucy was living at that time in the convent of the Dorothean Sisters of Tuy, in Spain. In June, 1943, she suddenly fell gravely ill. Her condition was so alarming that Bishop da Silva, the Bishop of Leiria, became worried. He feared that she would die before having revealed the Third Secret of Our Lady and he sensed that it would be the loss of an exceptional grace for the Church. Canon Galamba, the friend and advisor of the Bishop, then suggested to him an extremely judicious idea, that he at least ask Sister Lucy to write down forthwith, the text of the Third Secret and then that she place it in an envelope sealed with wax, to be opened later.
On September 15, 1943, Bishop da Silva went, therefore, to Tuy and he asked Sister Lucy to write down the Secret “if she really wanted to.” But the seer, undoubtedly under the impulse of the Holy Spirit was not content with this vague order. She requested of her Bishop a written order, formal and perfectly clear – that is very important. The final Message of the Virgin of Fatima is, as previously were Her other requests, linked to marvelous promises. It is an exceptional grace offered by God to our 20th Century in order to meet its most urgent needs. But again it is necessary that the pastors of the Church have sufficient faith and docility to the designs of Heaven in order to be instruments of this outpouring of grace that God wants to bestow upon the world through the sweet mediation of His Immaculate Mother. In 1943, God desired that it be the Bishop of Leiria, who demanded of this messenger the writing down of the Third Secret.
In mid-October, 1943, Bishop da Silva made up his mind. He wrote to Sister Lucy, giving her the express order that she had besought of him. However, new difficulties would arise. Sister Lucy experienced at that time, for almost three months, a mysterious and terrible anguish. She has related that each time she sat down at her work table and took her pen in order to write down the Secret, she found herself obstructed from doing it. One must, no doubt, see there the last outburst of satan against the messenger of the Immaculate One. Guessing what a terrible weapon this great prophecy could set up against his dominion over souls and his plan to penetrate the very heart of the Church, such a trial endured by the seer thus indicated the magnitude of the grandiose event which was about to be carried out, should the Secret be put down on paper. On Christmas Eve, Sister Lucy confided to her director that she had still been unable to obey the order that she had been given.
Finally, on the 2nd of January, 1944, (this is very little known) the Blessed Virgin Mary Herself appeared again to Lucy. She confirmed to her that such was truly the Will of God and gave her the light and the strength to accomplish the writing that had been commanded.
The extreme care that Sister Lucy then took to transmit it with complete safety to its recipient, Bishop da Silva, is a new proof of the exceptional importance which she attributes to this document. She did not wish to entrust it to anyone but a Bishop. It was Bishop Ferreira, Archbishop of Gurza, who received from the hands of Sister Lucy, the envelope sealed with wax containing the precious document. He delivered it the same evening to Bishop da Silva.

(This account was given by Frere Michel in an address at the Vatican Symposium on Fatima on 24th November, 1985. We now know that the apparition took place on 3rd January, and not the 2nd. See the full account here)
This version of events is further confirmed by the official Message of Fatima document released by the Church, which states that Sr. Lucia had written down the content of the Third Secret after the express order of the Bishop of Leiria and the Virgin Mary herself - confirming that the Blessed Mother did indeed appear to Sr. Lucia on 3rd January, 1944, in order to encourage her to commit the secret to writing: 

The third part of the "secret" was written by "order of His Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and the Most Holy Mother..." on 3 January 1944.
(The Message of Fatima)

Combined with the fact that this newly released text concerning the apparition of the Blessed Virgin to Sr. Lucia was published by the Carmel of Coimbra itself, there can be no doubt as to the authenticity of this vision. And there can similarly be no doubt that the content of this vision is directly related to the Third Secret itself. As such, it should be worth inspecting this newly published private revelation given to Sr. Lucia in some closer detail:

Towards 16:00 hours on January 3rd, 1944, in the convent’s chapel, before the Tabernacle, Lucia asked Jesus to let her know His will: ‘I then feel that a friendly hand, affectionate and maternal, touches my shoulder.’

It is ‘the Mother of Heaven’ who says to her: ‘be at peace and write what they command you to, but not that which you were given to understand about its meaning,’ intending to allude to the meaning of the vision that the Virgin herself had revealed to her.

Right after – says Sr. Lucia – ‘I felt my spirit flooded by a light-filled mystery which is God and in Him I saw and heard: the point of the flame-like lance which detaches, touches the axis of the earth and it [the earth] shakes: mountains, cities, towns and villages with their inhabitants are buried. The sea, rivers and clouds leave their bounds, they overflow, flood and drag with them into a whirlpool, houses and people in a number unable to be counted; it is the purification of the world from the sin it is immersed in. Hatred, ambition, cause destructive wars. Afterward I felt in the increased beating of my heart and in my spirit a quiet voice which said: ‘in time, one faith, one baptism, one Church, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. Heaven in eternity!’ This word, ‘Heaven,’ filled my heart with peace and happiness, so much so that, almost without realizing it, I continued to repeat for some time: Heaven, Heaven!’

The first thing of note in this text is that we know that the Third Secret was written down on the exact same day as this apparition, since Sr. Lucia dated the bottom of her letter reprinted in The Message of Fatima as follows: "Tuy-3-1-1944". So the imagery of this vision is quite evidently related to the Third Secret itself.

Another far more important detail that this text provides us with is that while Sr. Lucia was instructed by the Virgin Mary to write down what Bishop da Silva had ordered her to (the content of the third part of the Secret seen by the three shepherd children on 13th July, 1917), she was also told not to write down the vital meaning of the vision that the Blessed Virgin had revealed to her. This clearly suggests that while the text published in the year 2000 is indeed the complete Third Secret witnessed by the shepherd children in 1917, and that there is no hypothetical "Fourth Secret", Sr. Lucia did not include the meaning of the vision in this particular text. 

This would imply that Sr. Lucia had written down the interpretation of the vision given by the Blessed Mother in a different text at some later point, confirming the two-text hypothesis of Fatima scholar Solideo Paolini - that the "attachment" to the Third Secret it is not actually part of the Secret itself, but rather an interpretation of the visions contained in the Secret, which if made by Sr. Lucia herself, could theoretically be flawed (since there are considerable difficulties in distinguishing between material that is truly of Divine inspiration from the personal convictions of the seer, as was discussed in Cardinal Ratzinger's theological commentary in The Message of Fatima). It also explains exactly why there were two envelopes bearing content related to the Third Secret - Our Lady herself had instructed to Sr. Lucia to write down the content of the vision seen in 1917, and to keep this separate from the meaning of the Secret that had been revealed to her by the Blessed Virgin. Given that the interpretation of the Secret should of course be considered as a separate entity from the Secret itself, this would explain why the Vatican authorities and Sr. Lucia herself were correct in insisting that the Secret of Fatima has been published in full. When Sr. Lucia was asked by Archbishop Bertone: "Is this the Third Secret, and is this the only text of it?" She replied "Yes, this is the Third Secret, and I never wrote any other'." (Bertone, T, The Last Secret of Fatima, p64) 

It would seem then that the Third Secret of Fatima has indeed been published in its entirety - it is the interpretation of the visions contained in the three parts of the Secret that is most likely still being withheld, and it is this text which is the content of the envelope kept in a cabinet inside the Papal Apartments, as described by Mgr. Capovilla (which is distinct from the text of the Third Secret that is known to have been kept in the secret archives of the Holy Office). 

In his recent blog post concerning this new text related to the Third Secret, Antonio Socci informs us that Solideo Paolini wrote to the Carmel of Coimbra in June of this year, asking them if Sr. Lucia ever wrote down the interpretation of the Secret - which this text explicitly informs us that the Virgin Mary revealed to her. Socci tells us that to date, Paolini still has not received a response from the Carmel, which is more or less what was expected, since to admit such would be tantamount to confirming the existence of the proposed "attachment" to the Third Secret, which is the central thesis of the "Fatimist" movement. It would be almost unthinkable that Sr. Lucia would not have been instructed by Our Lady to commit the interpretation of the Secret to writing at some point later, since it is self-evident that this would provide the key to understanding the visions as a whole.

In my book Unveiling the Apocalypse: Prophecy in Catholic Tradition, I argue that the real reason this "attachment" to the Third Secret was not made public alongside the text that was published in the year 2000, was because it contained precise details that related to specific dates in the future - dates which the Vatican would quite understandably be reluctant to confirm in advance. If for example, the interpretation of the Third Secret provided precise details along the lines of: "At the end of this century such and such will happen...", the Vatican would be embracing an almost impossible situation - effectively tying itself to the suggestion that a particular event would occur by an exact date, decades before said event was due to take place. Cardinal Loris Capovilla, who was secretary to St. John XXIII, confirmed that the Holy Father had refused to publish the Third Secret (or its interpretation) by the stipulated date of 1960 because he thought it might not be "entirely supernatural" (i.e. some of its content might be Sr. Lucia's own interpretation), and more importantly that it did not want to risk an "immediate interpretation" (i.e. an interpretation given in 1960) because the text contained "minute precisions" (which most likely pointed to a later date).

"Pope John imposed the silence for two reasons: (1) it did not seem to him to consist entirely of things supernatural,‘ (2) he did not dare to risk an immediate interpretation, in the midst of the complex Fatima phenomenon,‘prescinding from minute precisions'
(Mgr. Loris Capovilla, cited in Cited in Socci, A. The Fourth Secret of Fatima, p154)

"Minute precisions" can only mean that this text contains highly specific details such as dates, or the names and locations of particular events or individuals that relates to a certain point in time. We know that Sr. Lucia was not adverse to date-setting, since she was told that Secret should be published by 1960 - as then it would be "better understood". So it is not altogether unlikely that the interpretation of the Secret would mention a specific date in the future as well. The Vatican itself stated that the Third Secret would not be published in 1960 because it did not want the responsibility of guaranteeing the veracity of the words that the Virgin Mary addressed to the shepherd children - which also suggests the inclusion of such specifics:

"Although the Church recognizes the Fatima apparitions She does not desire to take the responsibility of guaranteeing the veracity of the words that the three shepherd children said that the Virgin Mary had addressed to them."
(Vatican communiqué of 8th Feb, 1960. Cited in De la Sainte Trinite, M. The Whole Truth About Fatima Vol. III pp578-586)

This means that the Secret must have contained some specific details about future events, rather than being vague or open to interpretation; and that the Vatican simply could not afford to stake its credibility on guaranteeing in advance that the contents of this prophecy would take place at the prescribed date. The most telling clue that the "attachment" contains an exact date however, is the reason Pope St. John XXIII gave as to why he would not publish the Third Secret by 1960 - because it did not concern the years of his pontificate:

Pope John XXIII announced that he was not releasing the secret at the date specified by Sr. Lucia because it “does not concern the years of my pontificate” 
(cited in De la Sainte Trinite, M. The Whole Truth About Fatima Vol. III p557)

How could St. John XXIII have possibly known that the content of the Secret or its interpretation did not refer the years his pontificate, unless it contained reference to a date in the future well outside his expected life-span. As I suggest in my book, and in the earlier post The Third Secret and the Turn of the Millennium, it seems that the date mentioned in the "attachment" is the end of the 20th century, and that the events described in it are directly related to struggle of the Woman Adorned with the Sun against the Devil - which is marked by the appearance of the "signs in heaven", and all of which did indeed take place at the turn of the millennium. This would explain Pope St. John Paul II's apparent fixation with the Great Jubilee Year 2000, which he repeatedly harked to from the very beginning of his career as pope, describing it as "a hermeneutical key of my Pontificate" (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 23). 

As I have already noted in the earlier post John Paul II: The Triumph of Mary and the Great Jubileein his book The End of Time: Faith and Fear in the Shadow of the Millennium, prominent Catholic journalist Damian Thompson stated that the late Pope's underscoring of the symbolic significance of the turn of the millennium "frequently gives the impression that he knows more than he is letting on" (p172). Writing in 1996 - four years before the publication of the Third Secret, Thompson goes on to suggest that the Pope's level of regard for the turn of the millennium may be attributed to his knowledge of the Third Secret of Fatima (pp173-174).

We can find many examples of St. John Paul's apparent obsession with the prophetic importance of the Great Jubilee Year 2000, one of the most striking of which was made during a prayer service the Pope held at the Spanish Steps on 8th Dec, 1983 - the exact same day the Holy Father issued his now famous "apocalyptic" address announcing his intention to carry out the Act of Entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in an apostolic letter, again mentioning a specific "precision" related to the turn of the millennium:. 

Precisely at the end of the second millennium
there accumulate on the horizon of all mankind
enormously threatening clouds, and darkness falls
upon human souls. 

The primary intention of this prayer was a request for the Virgin Mary to overcome evil - alluding to the moment when the Woman Adorned with the Sun would crush the head of the Ancient Serpent:

O Mary! Be the Mother of our liberation from every evil: 
From the evil that overburdens man's conscience,
and from that evil which always more threateningly obstructs
the horizon of our century
(The full English text of this prayer can be found here. The original document can be found in Italian on the Vatican website here.)

So it seems apparent then that not only did St. John Paul link the importance of the Great Jubilee Year with the prophecies of Our Lady of Fatima, but also with the struggle of the Woman Adorned with Sun against the Devil foretold in the Apocalypse - which tells us that Satan would be thrown down to earth (Rev 12:9) and transfer his great power and authority to the Beast that rises from the sea (Rev 13:2). An event which would be marked on earth by a series of phenomena that correspond to the "signs in heaven" (an earthquake, solar and lunar eclipses, a meteor shower, a planetary conjunction which recalls the Star of Bethlehem as the "sign of the Son of Man", as well as the appearance of some sort of disastrous spectacle which involves "blood, fire, and columns of smoke" cf. Rev 6:13-14, Matt 24:29-30, Joel 2:28-31).

Sr. Lucia herself gave some insight into the meaning of the Secret of Fatima during an interview with Fr Augustin Fuentes in 1957, which specifically identifies it with the combat between the Dragon and the Woman Adorned with the Sun in Rev 12, when Satan drags down a third of the stars from heaven. Note that the below words are strikingly similar to Pope Benedict XVI's contention (outlined during his pilgrimage to Fatima in 2010) that the content of the Third Secret can be related to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church - which is also highly suggestive of Satan dragging a third of the stars from heaven:

Father, the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that most offends God and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus, the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way, the devil will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them.
That which afflicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus is the fall of religious and priestly souls. The devil knows that religious and priests who fall away from their beautiful vocation drag numerous souls to hell... The devil wishes to take possession of consecrated souls. He tries to corrupt them in order to lull to sleep the souls of lay people and thereby lead them to final impenitence...

“Father, the Blessed Virgin did not tell me that we are in the last times of the world, but I understood this for three reasons:

“The first is because she told me that the Devil is engaging in a battle with the Virgin, a decisive battle. It is a final battle where one party will be victorious and the other will suffer defeat. So, from now on, we are either with God or we are with the Devil; there is no middle ground.

“The second reason is because she told me, as well as my cousins, that God is giving two last remedies to the world: the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And, being the last remedies, that is to say, they are the final ones, means that there will be no others.

“And the third, because in the plans of the Divine Providence, when God is going to chastise the world He always first exhausts all other remedies. When He sees that the world pays no attention whatsoever, then, as we say in our imperfect way of talking, with a certain fear He presents us the last means of salvation, His Blessed Mother.

If we despise and reject this last means, Heaven will no longer pardon us, because we will have committed a sin that the Gospel calls a sin against the Holy Spirit. 

It is worth comparing these words with Pope Benedict's comments on the Third Secret below:

Father Lombari:

You were asked if the message could be extended, beyond the attack on John Paul II, to other sufferings on the part of the Popes. Is it possible, to your mind, to include in that vision the sufferings of the Church today for the sins involving the sexual abuse of minors?

...Holy Father:

As for the new things which we can find in this message today, there is also the fact that attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from without, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from the sin existing within the Church. This too is something that we have always known, but today we are seeing it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and that the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice.
(Interview of the Holy Father Benedict XVI with the journalists during the flight to Portugal)

If we view the words of Sr. Lucia during her interview with Fr. Fuentes alongside the text of Rev 12, we are left in no doubt that she believed that in 1957, the world was on the cusp of the fulfillment of the prophecy of the struggle of the Woman Adorned with the Sun against the Dragon of the Apocalypse: 

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.
(Rev 12:1-4)

As Sr. Lucia stated, only one side would be victorious in this War in Heaven - which is a direct reference to the point when Satan would be defeated by the Archangel Michael, and cast down from heaven to the earth, whereupon he begins one last assault against the Church by transferring his great power and authority to the Antichrist. 

In addition to Sr. Lucia linking the Secret of Fatima to the eschatological struggle of the Woman Adorned with the Sun against the Devil, there is Cardinal Bertone's conviction that the "signs in heaven" described in the Bible was directly related to the events of 9/11. As we have noted previously, Cardinal Bertone made the following statement to the Italian journal La Republica upon returning from officiating at Sr. Lucia's funeral Mass in 2005:

"prophecy must always be interpreted: It is enough to think of the Apocalypse, of the signs in heaven. Have these perhaps not already been seen with the airplanes that toppled the Twin Towers?"

It is highly unlikely that Cardinal Bertone would have come to this conclusion by himself. The fact that he made this suggestion in the wake of Sr. Lucia's funeral Mass suggests that the real inspiration for his connection between the signs in heaven and the events of 9/11 was rooted in something communicated to him by the seer of Fatima herself. In this regard, it is of specific interest that on 26th October, 2001, the respected Catholic news publication Inside the Vatican claimed that Sr. Lucia had sent a letter to Pope St. John Paul II almost immediately after the attacks on the Twin Towers had taken place. There was a rumour that this text contained a warning that the pope's life was in danger.  When questioned about this correspondence, the then Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva: “did not deny that Sister Lucia had sent a letter to the Pope, but said [drawing a very precise distinction] ‘there are no letters from the seer that express fear for the life of the Pope.’” (See chapter 5 of Christopher Ferrera's book The Secret Still Hidden, which can be found online here). 

The reception of this letter by Pope St. John Paul II was quickly followed by the dispatch of Archbishop Bertone (then Secretary for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) to visit Sr. Lucia in the Carmel of Coimbra on 17th November, 2001, who conducted a two-hour interview with the seer in the presence of Rev. Luis Kondor, SVD, Vice-Postulator of the cause of Bl. Francisco and Bl. Jacinta, and the Prioress of the Carmelite Convent of Coimbra. The interesting thing to note here is that Archbishop Bertone had already conducted an interview with Sr. Lucia on 27th April, 2000, just before the publication of the Third Secret, and should have at this stage already acquired everything he needed to know about this text before it was made available to the public. So this follow-up interview was in all likelihood related to a current development, and was made in direct response to the letter Sr. Lucia sent to Pope St. John Paul II in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center. And whatever Sr. Lucia told Archbishop Bertone during this subsequent interview appears to have been the primary influence on his remarks following the seer's funeral Mass. 

The only possible way that the events of 9/11 could be interpreted as being related to the "signs in heaven" prophesied in the Bible is if we are to equate them with the "blood, fire and columns of smoke" foretold in the Book of Joel, which we are told accompany the astronomical phenomena that herald the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Second Pentecost:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. 
(Joel 2:28-32)

As we have already noted several times previously, each of the other "signs in heaven" described in the Bible did indeed occur around the turn of the millennium - which included a highly symbolic solar eclipse on 11th August, 1999, which traversed an area in Turkey close to the location of the seven churches of Asia Minor (including Pergamum - the "throne of Satan"), which was soon followed by a major earthquake in the same area just days later at the city of Izmit, on August 17th, 1999. The path of this same eclipse also passed directly through the city of Mosul in Iraq - the site of ancient Nineveh, alluding to the mysterious "sign of Jonah" mentioned by Christ immediately after his discourse on the binding of Satan in Luke 11. Three months later, the 33 year cycle of the Leonid meteor storm took place - which is the most prolific of all meteor showers. Then the first lunar eclipse, or "blood moon" of the new millennium took place between 20th-21st January 2000 - the anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Zion to Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne (which links the grace poured out from the hands of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal to the future conversion of the Jews/the sealing of the 144,000). Then on 5th May, 2000, an extremely rare planetary conjunction involving each of the seven planets known to the ancients, which echoes the seven stars held in the right hand of Jesus - described in Rev 1:18 as being "the keys to Death and Hades". (See the earlier post The Seven Wandering Stars and the Heads of the Dragon)

In the next post, we will look again at how the Angel of the Seven Thunders in the Book of Revelation is related to the angel of the Third Secret, and how this prophecy can be used to identify New York City as the "great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth" described in Rev 17:18 - the city seen by Sr. Lucia being destroyed by a tsunami just before she wrote down the Third Secret. It is this future event which is prefigured in by the "harbinger" of 9/11, which is so closely connected to the "signs in heaven" and the lingering mystery surrounding the Third Secret of Fatima.