Apparitions & Secret of Fatima

Fatima, a small town in Portugal, became a significant pilgrimage site after the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917 to three shepherd children. Mary's messages were simple, namely, pray the Rosary daily and make reparation for sinners. The "secret of Fatima" revealed three parts, including a vision of hell, devotion to Mary's Immaculate Heart, and the persecution of Christians. Pope John Paul II consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984, fulfilling Mary's wish. The events described in the third part of the secret may have seemed to belong to the past, but Mary's call to conversion and penance is still relevant today.

Apparitions & Secret of Fatima


  • Apparitions: 1917
  • 13,212 inhabitants (2021)
  • 6 million visitors per year
  • 3 places of worship


Date: May 13–October 13, 1917

Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were born in Aljustrel. In 1916, an Angel of Peace appeared to them three times.

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you.

— A prayer taught by the Angel of Peace

These apparitions prepared them for something big: Mary's apparitions between May 13 and October 13, 1917, most of which happened in a field called Cova da Iria. The fourth apparition took place near Aljustrel at Valinhos, between the 8th and 9th stations of the Way of the Cross. During the last appearance on October 13, over thirty-thousand people saw the Miracle of the Sun, an event recorded by journalists, lawyers, and scientists.

crowd looking at the Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917
The crowd looking at the Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917


Basically, Mary had two main messages in her apparitions in Fatima: pray and repair.

First, Mary asked us to pray, especially by reciting the Rosary. In Fatima, she even called herself "Our Lady of the Rosary." She asked us to pray the Rosary every day in order to bring peace to the world and end the war.

Second, Mary urged us to make reparations for the damage caused by our sins and the sins of others. She wanted us to pray and make sacrifices for sinners, as many souls end up in hell because there are not enough people praying for them.


Tarcisio Bertone thinks that the Fatima apparitions are “the most prophetic of modern apparitions.”[1] You may have heard about the "secret of Fatima" that Our Lady revealed to the three shepherds. It has three parts.

  1. The first part is about a frightening vision of hell, with demons and souls on fire. However, Mary promised to take Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia to heaven.
  2. The second part talks about devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, the prediction of World War II, and the damage that Russia would do by turning away from Christianity and becoming communist. Mary asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on First Saturdays.
  3. The third part—made public in 2000—talks about Christians being persecuted in the 20th century. The children saw the Pope walking toward the Cross, passing through corpses, getting shot, and falling to the ground. This happened to bishops, priests, religious, and lay people too.
Blood on his hands John Paul II assisted by aides moments after he was shot in Saint Peter
Blood on his hands, Pope John Paul II is assisted by aides moments after he was shot in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981

After the assassination attempt on May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II requested the envelope containing the third part of the secret. After he read Sister Lucia’s description of the third secret, “Pope John Paul II immediately thought of consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” He did this on March 25, 1984, at Saint Peter’s Square, in union with all bishops. Sister Lucia later confirmed that the 1984 consecration fulfilled Our Lady’s wish. She also agreed with John Paul II’s later statement that “it was a mother's hand”—Mary’s hand—“that guided the bullet's path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death.” When the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima visited Rome in 1984, the Pope gave him the bullet that was left in the jeep after Mehmet Ali Ağca tried to assassinate him. In 1989, the Bishop decided to put the bullet in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

To sum it up, the secret of Fatima gives a vision of how atheistic systems persecute the Church and Christians. It also describes the sufferings of the witnesses of the faith in the twentieth century. It’s all about “an interminable Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the twentieth century.” Even though the events mentioned in the third part of Fatima’s secret may seem to belong to the past, Mary’s call to conversion and penance in 1917 is still relevant today.

  1. Read the complete statement here.