On the occasion of the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, we asked Donal Anthony Foley, Secretary of the World Apostolate of Fatima England and Wales, and co-author of The Message & Prayer of Fatima (CTS)
Q: What is the core message at the heart of the Fatima apparitions, and how does it speak to us today?
I think the core message is contained in what Our Lady said on 13 June 1917, when she spoke of how God wished to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart throughout the world. That is the essence of the message, seeing the Blessed Virgin as our spiritual Mother. And she promised salvation to whoever embraced this devotion.
Q: Which devotions draw us the closest to Our Lady?
I think the best devotions are the ones she specifically asked for at Fatima, that is the daily rosary to bring about peace in the world, and also the Five First Saturdays devotion. She revealed this in July 1917, but came back in 1926 to explain it more fully to Sr Lucia. You can see details about both of these on the WAF England & Wales website. In addition, she appeared with the Brown Scapular during the final apparition, on 13 October 1917, so this is very important, too. In fact, Sr Lucia said that the Brown Scapular and the Rosary are inseparable.
Q: What was the significance of the different acts of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary from the Popes?
The Act by which Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942 is credited with shortening World War II, while the Collegial consecration made by Pope St John Paul II in 1984 was followed by the collapse of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. So these consecrations have proved to be very powerful.
Q: Many popes in different ways seem to have a special connection with Fatima. Why do you think Our Lady of Fatima attracts in such a way?
The Fatima Message given by Our Lady deals with very big events such as the spread of the “errors of Russia,” and the promise of a period of peace for the world, and in addition, the “Bishop in White” – a reference to the Pope – is mentioned in the third part of the Fatima secret, which was revealed in the year 2000. All the Popes from Pius XII onward have been supportive of Fatima and particularly Pope St John Paul II – who spoke of the Church feeling that the Fatima message imposes a commitment on her.
Q: On the day of the 100th Anniversary of the first apparition, the children seers have been canonised. What does this special moment tell us about sainthood, child purity, and love?
As the youngest non-Martyr child saints in the history of the Church, the canonisation of Jacinta and Francisco, and especially during the Fatima centenary year, is a very important event for the Church. It will focus the attention of believers on the importance of purity, prayer and the family, for building up our civilisation again on Christian principles. It is a call for each of us to strive for personal holiness in imitation of the new saints.
Q: For the whole of 2017 there will be centenary celebrations. We have already seen the Visit of the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima at Westminster Cathedral (on the 18th of February), and at Southwark Cathedral (on the 13-14 May, for the 100th Anniversary date of Our Lady’s first apparition at Fatima). And the statue will be visiting other churches around England and Wales…
This weekend, 20-21 May, the Statue and Relics will be at Shrewsbury Cathedral, and the final weekend in May will see them in Wales, firstly at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Taper in Cardigan, on 27 May, and then at Menevia Cathedral in Swansea from 27-28 May.
Visitations to Nottingham Cathedral (2-4 June) and the London Ordinariate (10-11 June) will be followed by a Visitation to Plymouth cathedral from 24-25 June.
At these Visitations the faithful will be able to venerate the relics of Saints Jacinta and Francisco and participate in devotions to Our Lady.
For information about Visitations from July to October, please visit our website: National Pilgrim Virgin Statue Visitation Programme
Q: How would you advise others to benefit the most from this centenary?
I think the best advice I can give is for people to learn the Message of Fatima – read books and booklets about it, and particularly Fatima in Lucia’s own Words I, and then pray as Our Lady requested at Fatima, and especially the daily Rosary. Ideally, it would also be good to go on Pilgrimage to the shrine in Portugal.
Listen to our podcast Fatima Centenary: the story and the message. Our guests:
– Timothy Tindal-Robertson, CTS author of The Message and Prayers of Fatima and National President of the WAF England and Wales
– Nuno Prazeres, Director of the International Secretariat of the World Apostolate of Fatima
– Jorge Leitão, Portuguese Jeweller who made the Centenary Crown for our National Pilgrim Virgin Statue
– Mike Daley, Treasurer of the WAF England and Wales