In 1917 perhaps the most famous of the Marian apparitions occurred near Fatima in Portugal. St. Mary appeared to three little shepherd children: Lucia, Jacinta, and Francesca. Like little Bernadette, these three dear children would suffer much from the atheistic authorities and from the Roman Catholic Church. Jacinta and Francesca would die while still children with only Lucia surviving them. She is a cloistered nun (1997).
In the course of St. Mary's visitations she told them of communism's soon coming to Russia, of the violence and suffering it would cause, that the war (World War I) would soon be over but because of the world's wickedness a second and more horrible world would come (World War II), and then an even more frightful war in the future, World War III. (Armageddon, the final war? Only God knows.)
She called for prayer, repentance, conversion to Jesus Christ, and seems to have forewarned of the corruption and apostasy that is presently destroying many of the Christian churches in the western world. Her prophecy that communism in Russia would fail and there would be a temporary cessation of hostilities between that country and the rest of the world has happened in our lifetimes, but I must emphasize, she only foretold a temporary cessation ... in other words, the window of opportunity to do the work of the Gospel in Russia will one day be closed again.
At her final appearance before a crowd of 70,000 in a driving rainstorm that had made the countryside a muddy-mire, Saint Mary, seen only by the three little shepherds, caused a visible and terrifying sign in the Heavens that was seen by all including the scoffing atheists who had come to rail against the dear little saints. The sun seemed to dance and then to send out multicolored rays in all directions. Just as suddenly it seemed to plunge toward the earth and toward that rain-drenched crowd. People screamed, many fell to their knees confessing their sins to God and asking His forgiveness. The phenomenon of that day was seen miles away.
As the spinning and plunging ceased and the sun receded back into the heavens the ground was discovered to be dry and all of the soaked clothing dry as well. Several of the world's news agencies had people there and the story was run complete with pictures as "hard boiled reporters" humbly recounted the scenes they could not deny. The atheists were silenced, the scornful clergy humbled, and revival came to Portugal which is, to this day, one of the most openly Christian lands in the world.
As a young nun Lucia would recall how St. Mary told her that on the night when World War II would begin there would be signs in the night skies over all of Europe. From the window of her convent cell she watched reverently as the Aurora Borealis spread over Europe (an extremely rare event) and the air was charged with ominous feelings. The next day Hitler triumphantly marched into Austria and his conquests officially began that which would kill millions of innocent people and threaten western civilization with the demonic paganism that he advocated as a new religion. Hitler, along with Nero and Napoleon, are viewed as models on a small scale of what the Antichrist will be like.
St. Mary called upon Christians to pray the rosary and use it as a
weapon against Satan! As Protestants we may have difficulties with the
Roman versions of that devotion and so I am including at the end of
these meditations on the Lady Chapel of our Cathedral Souls my own
Reformed version of that ancient prayer practice.
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