The July Apparition of
Our Lady of Fatima
(Collated from the Memoirs of Sr. Lucia)
In my opinion, it would be pleasing to God and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that, in the book Jacinta, one chapter would be devoted to the subject of Hell, and another to the Immaculate Heart of Mary… This will entail my speaking about the secret… What is the secret?
It seems to me that I can reveal it, since I already have permission from Heaven to do so… Well, the secret is made up of three distinct parts, two of which I am now going to reveal.
The first part is the vision of Hell… The second part refers to the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary…
The Apparition of July 13, 1917
A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw a flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.
"What do you want of me?" I asked.
"I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you."
"I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us."
"Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe."
I then made some requests, but I cannot recall now just what they were. What I do remember is that Our Lady said it was necessary for such people to pray the Rosary in order to obtain these graces during the year. And she continued:
"Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee, in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the conversion of sinners."
The First Secret
As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged into 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 with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me.) The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:
"You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of 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."
The Second Secret
"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, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved; etc. Do not tell this to anybody. Francisco, yes, you may tell him.
"When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy."
Impressions on Jacinta
… Some of the things revealed in the secret made a very strong impression on Jacinta… The vision of Hell filled her with horror to such a degree, that every penance and mortification was as nothing in her eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there…
Some people, even the most devout, refuse to speak to children about Hell, in case it would frighten them. Yet God did not hesitate to show Hell to three children, one of whom was only six years old, knowing well that they would be horrified to the point of, I would almost dare to say, withering away with fear.
Jacinta often sat thoughtfully on the ground or on a rock, and exclaimed, "Oh, Hell! Hell! How sorry I am for the souls who go to Hell! And the people there, burning alive, like wood in the fire!" Then, shuddering, she knelt down with her hands joined, and recited the prayer that Our Lady had taught us… Jacinta remained on her knees like this for long periods of time, saying the same prayer over and over again. From time to time, like someone awaking from sleep, she called out to her brother or myself:
"Francisco! Francisco! Are you praying with me? We must pray very much, to save souls from Hell! So many go there! So many!" At other times, she asked, "Why doesn't Our Lady show Hell to sinners? If they saw it, they would not sin, so as to avoid going there! You must tell Our Lady to show Hell to all the people… You'll see how they will be converted."
Afterwards, unsatisfied, she asked me, "Why didn't you tell Our Lady to show Hell to those people?"
"I forgot," I answered.
"I didn't remember either!" she said, looking very sad.
Sometimes, she also asked, "What are the sins people commit, for which they go to Hell?"
"I don't know! Perhaps the sin of not going to Mass on Sunday, of stealing, of saying ugly words, of cursing and swearing."
"So, for just one word, then, people can go to Hell?"
"Well, it's a sin!"
"It wouldn't be hard for them to keep quiet, and to go to Mass! I'm so sorry for sinners! If only I could show them Hell!"
… When people asked her questions, she answered in a friendly manner, but briefly. If they said anything which she thought improper, she promptly replied:
"Don't say that; it offends the Lord our God."
If they related something unbecoming about their families, she answered:
"Don't let your children commit sin, or they could go to Hell."
If there were grown-ups involved, she said:
"Tell them not to do that, for it is a sin. They offend the Lord our God, and later they could be damned."
The Immaculate Heart of Mary
… Our Lady told me on June 13th, 1917, that she would never forsake me, and that her Immaculate Heart would be my refuge and the way that would lead me to God. As she spoke these words, she opened her hands, and from them streamed a light that penetrated to our inmost hearts. I think that, on that day, the main purpose of this light was to infuse within us a special knowledge and love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary…
From that day onwards, our hearts were filled with a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. From time to time, Jacinta said to me, "The Lady said that her Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. Don't you love that? Her Heart is so good! How I love it!"
As I explained earlier, Our Lady told us, in the July secret, that God wished to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart; and that to prevent a future war, she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, and for the Communion of Reparation on First Saturdays. From then on, whenever we spoke of this among ourselves, Jacinta said, "I am so grieved to be unable to receive Communion in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary!"
Jacinta's Vision of the Holy Father
One day we spent our siesta down by my parents' well. Jacinta sat on the stone slabs on top of the well. Francisco and I climbed up a steep bank in search of wild honey among brambles in a nearby thicket. After a while, Jacinta called out to me:
"Didn't you see the Holy Father?"
"I don't know how it was, but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him."
At another time, we went to the cave called Lapa do Cabeço. As soon as we got there, we prostrated on the ground, saying the prayers the Angel had taught us. After some time, Jacinta stood up and called to me:
"Can't you see all those highways and roads and fields full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?"
Some days later, she asked me, "Can I say that I saw the Holy Father and all those people?"
"No. Don't you see that that's part of the secret? If you do, they'll find out right away."
"All right! Then I'll say nothing at all."
Visions of War
One day, I went to Jacinta's house to spend a little while with her. I found her sitting on her bed, deep in thought.
"Jacinta, what are you thinking about?"
"About the war that is coming. So many people are going to die, and almost all of them are going to Hell! Many homes will be destroyed, and many priests will be killed. Look, I am going to Heaven, and as for you, when you see the light which the Lady told us would come one night before the war, you run up there too."
"Don't you see that nobody can just run off to Heaven!"
"That's true, you cannot! But don't be afraid…"
… God manifested that sign, which astronomers chose to call an aurora borealis. I don't know for certain, but I think if they investigated the matter, they would discover that, in the form in which it appeared, it could not possibly have been an aurora borealis. Be that as it may, God made use of this to make me understand that His justice was about to strike the guilty nations…
… It may be… that some people think that I should have made known all of this some time ago, because they consider that it would have been twice as valuable years beforehand. This would have been the case, if God had willed to present me to the world as a prophetess. But I believe that God had no such intention, when He made known these things to me. If that had been the case, I think that, in 1917, when He ordered me to keep silence, and this order was confirmed by those who represented Him, He would, on the contrary, have ordered me to speak. I consider then… that God willed only to make use of me to remind the world that it is necessary to avoid sin, and to make reparation to an offended God, by means of prayer and sacrifice.
… A little while before going to the hospital, Jacinta said to me, "It will not be long now before I go to Heaven. You will remain here to make known that God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When you are to say this, don't go and hide. Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask for them;and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at His side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God has entrusted it to her. If I could only put into the hearts of all, the fire that is burning within my own heart, and that makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so very much!"
Champions of Catholic Orthodoxy
St. Eugenius, Bishop of Carthage,
The Roman provinces in Africa were for a long time some of the richest and most noble portions of the empire. The Carthaginian barbarism and perfidy had given place to the most flourishing reign of the sciences, arts, and religion. Peace seemed on every side secure, but the Roman empire was in its decline; its rulers, to preserve Italy, which they regarded as its heart or head, abandoned its extremities to the Goths and Vandals. At a time when Africa thought of no danger, in the reign of the Emperor Valentinian III in 428, Genseric, king of the Vandals and Alans, having just made a settlement in part of Spain, passed into this country, and in a short time became master of those fertile provinces. The Vandals, who were infected with the Arian heresy, laid the whole country waste by fire and sword, plundered all places, even churches and monasteries; burned alive two bishops, and tortured others to extort from them the treasures of their churches; razed the public buildings at Carthage, and banished Quodvultdeus, bishop of that city, with many others.
In 454, at the request of Valentinian, Genseric allowed the Catholics of Carthage to choose a bishop, but he died soon after. The persecution then grew hotter, many suffered torments for the Faith, and several received the crown of martyrdom. The Arians committed unheard-of sacrileges, such as making garments for themselves out of the altar cloths; at Tinuzuda they spilled and scattered the Holy Eucharist on the pavement. Genseric died after a reign of 37 years and was succeeded by his son Huneric, a more barbarous persecutor than his father had ever been.
The episcopal see of Carthage had remained vacant 24 years when, in 481, Huneric permitted the Catholics on certain conditions to choose someone to fill it. The people, impatient to enjoy the consolation of a pastor, immediately chose Eugenius, a citizen of Carthage, eminent for his learning, zeal, piety, and prudence; and such was his deportment in this dignity that he was venerable to the very heretics, and so dear to the Catholics that everyone of them would have thought it a happiness to lay down his life for him. His charities to the distressed were excessive, especially considering his own poverty. When others advised him to reserve something for his own needs, his answer was: "If the good pastor must lay down his life for his flock, can it be excusable for me to be solicitous for the necessities of my body?" He fasted every day, and often allowed himself only a slender evening refection of bread and water.
His virtue gained him the respect and esteem even of the Arians; but at length, moved by envy and blind zeal, the king sent him an order never to sit in the episcopal throne, preach to the people, or admit into his chapel any Vandals, among whom several had been converted. The saint boldly answered the messenger that the laws of God commanded him not to shut the door of his church to any that desired to serve Him in it. Huneric, enraged at this answer, persecuted the Catholics in many ways, especially the Vandals who had embraced the true Faith. He commanded guards to be placed at the doors of the Catholic churches, who when they saw any man or woman going in clothed in the habit of the Vandals, struck them on the head with short jagged staves, which being twisted into their hair and drawn back with great violence, tore off hair and skin together. Some lost their eyes by this means, and others died with the extreme pain; but many lived a long time after. Women, with their heads flayed in this manner, were publicly led through the streets, with a crier going before them to show them to the people. The streets of Carthage were filled with spectacles of cruelty; continually there could be seen some without hands, others without eyes, nose or ears, others whose heads appeared sunk in between their shoulders from having been hung up by the hands on the tops of houses. Many nuns were so cruelly tortured that several died on the rack. Nearly 5,000 men, women and children were banished into a desert filled with scorpions and poisonous snakes; but these servants of God suffered much more from the want of the necessities of life.
Bishop Eugenius was spared in the first storm. But in May of 483, the king summoned the Catholics to hold a disputation with his Arian bishops in Carthage the following February. Eugenius protested that the terms were not just, seeing their enemies were to be their judges; and that other sees should be invited and consulted, "especially the See of Rome, which is the head of all the churches." But his protests were to no avail.
Soon after, a blind man named Felix declared that in a vision he had been told to ask Bishop Eugenius to cure him. Our Saint replied he was only a poor sinner, but finally he agreed to bless the man after the solemn ceremonies of Epiphany. Felix immediately regained his sight, and the whole city was witness to this miracle.
When the conference opened on February 5th, the Arians found themselves unable to defend their position against the staunch arguments of the Catholics. They therefore abruptly broke off the conference, prompting Huneric to issue another edict of persecution against the Catholics. Executioners were dispatched to all parts of the kingdom; the Catholic clergy were banished out of the towns and forbidden to perform any functions even in the country. At Typasus, certain Catholics who had assisted at Mass in a private house had their tongues plucked out and their right hands cut off; yet they spoke as well as ever, as St. Victor Vitensis, an eye-witness, assures us. Over 460 bishops were brought to Carthage; of this number 88 died under great hardships, a few escaped, and the rest were banished. A woman named Dionysia, after having suffered scourging, encouraged her own son to suffer martyrdom, rather than abandon the true Faith. St. Eugenius, after having long encouraged others in the conflict, was himself at length, and on a sudden, carried into exile without being allowed to take leave of his friends. He did, however, write to his flock: "I with tears beg, exhort, and conjure you, by the dreadful day of judgment, and the wonderful light of the coming of Christ, that you hold fast the Catholic Faith. Preserve the grace of holy Baptism and the unction of the Chrism. Let no man born again of water return to the water." This he mentions, because the Arians in Africa used to rebaptize those that came over to their sect.
St. Eugenius was exiled into the desert of Tripolis, and committed to the guard of Antony, an inhumane Arian bishop, who treated him with utmost cruelty. The saint added to his sufferings voluntary austerities, wore a rough hair-shirt, slept on the ground, and passed a great part of the night in prayer and tears.
Huneric died, eaten by worms, in December of 484. He was succeeded by Gontamund, a nephew. This prince, in 488, recalled St. Eugenius to Carthage and, at his request, opened the churches of Catholics and permitted exiled priests to return. Gontamund died in 496, however, and the persecutions were resumed by his brother, Thrasimund. Our saint was condemned to be beheaded, but though he protested his willingness to die for the Faith, the judge commuted his sentence to exile in Languedoc, which was then subject to the Arian Visigoths.
St. Eugenius died in his exile in the monastery of St. Amaranth, which he built and governed at Viance, on the 13th of July, 505. His life and the martyrdoms of so many of his companions and spiritual children should be a great encouragement to those striving to persevere as true Catholics in our own times, when the wickedness of the Arians is falsely glorified in modern books and films.
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