One hundred years ago in Fatima, Portugal, the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children. The final apparition, known as the miracle of the sun, occurred on Oct. 13, 1917. As the anniversary neared, Cleveland Bishop Nelson Perez celebrated a Mass on Oct. 7 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist to mark the closing of the centennial year of the Fatima apparitions.
Watch a replay of the Mass and view an image gallery by clicking HERE.
Bishop Perez said it was unusual that Our Lady would appear to three young children. “The world saw this through their eyes,” the bishop said, referring to the series of apparitions. Two of the children, Francisco Marto and his sister, Jacinta, were canonized in 2000. They were 9 and 7 at the time of the apparitions and died within two years. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, who was 10 when she saw the apparitions, became a nun and died in 2005 at age 97.
“Pope St. John Paul II had a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima,” Bishop Perez said, explaining that the late pope survived an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981, the 64th anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima.
One of the bullets that was removed from him was placed in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, he said, noting it is still there.
“I guess I would develop a devotion, too, if I was almost killed. Make sure you protect me, officer,” the bishop quipped as he pointed to a Cleveland police officer in the congregation at the Mass.
Pope St. John Paul II said that Mary’s love is manifested in the special places where she meets us, the bishop said.
God, through his mercy, allowed the Blessed Mother to manifest her love for the world. She was a special woman, he said.
“Like all true apparitions of the Blessed Mother, she always points to something else. She’s the means to the end, the door to the way of Christ. She was the first missionary disciple,” he said.
Mary played a part in the miracle at Cana, when Jesus turned the water into wine. “She pointed to Christ and told the servants, ‘Do what he tells you.’”
The Lord spoke through his mother, calling humanity to penance, seeking a conversion of the heart, Bishop Perez said. “She also called us to pray, especially to pray the rosary. We should reflect on the mysteries of our faith and how they impact on our salvation,” he added.
“She also asked that the world have a devotion to her immaculate heart. She watched all that was happening, held these things in her heart and reflected on them,” he said.