Thursday, October 20, 2016

St. Laura of St. Catherine of Siena

By Jean M. Heimann

October 21 is the feast of St. Laura of St. Catherine of Siena (1874-1949), a Colombian sister who founded the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Siena in 1914. She was renowned for her work with the native Indians of Colombia, and serves as a strong role model for South American girls.

Laura Montoya Upegui was born on May 26, 1874 in Jericó, Antioquia, Colombia, the second of three children to Juan de la Crux Montoya and Dolores Upegui.  When she was only two, her father died, defending his country in the Colombian War of 1876. Consequently, the family was left in poverty after all their possessions were confiscated. Following her father's death, Laura was sent to live with her grandmother. Laura felt orphaned and alone. To help overcome her feelings of loneliness, she took refuge in Jesus. As she grew older, she was especially sustained by meditation on Sacred Scripture and the strength she received from the Eucharist.

At the age of sixteen, she decided to become a teacher in order to help her family with their financial difficulties. She was educated at the Holy Spirit School in Amalfi, Colombia, and in Medellín, Colombia, where she excelled in her studies.

She was sent to teach the indigenous peoples of Colombia and began working as a missionary to them by teaching about the Catholic faith as well. Many Colombians viewed these peoples as less than human, but Laura knew this was not the case. While teaching, she felt drawn to a religious vocation, as a Carmelite discalced nun, a cloistered order which is dedicated to the contemplative life. However, at the same time, she felt called to active missionary work, to preach the Gospel to those who do not know Christ.

Laura was determined to battle the anti-Indian bigotry in her society, and to dedicate her own life to the evangelization of the native Indians. Thus, on May 14, 1914, she founded the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Immaculate Mary and of Saint Catherine of Siena. She left Medellín together with four other young women and went to Dabeiba to live among the poor native Indians. As mother superior of her congregation, she imparted to her order a rule that combined contemplation with action.

Mother Laura died on October 21, 1949 in Medellín, after a long and painful illness. She spent the last nine years of her life in a wheelchair, where she continued to teach by example, word and writing. St. Laura was canonized by Pope Francis on May 12, 2013. Today her Missionary Sisters work in 19 countries throughout America, Africa and Europe.

At her canonization ceremony, Pope Francis praised Saint Laura for “instilling hope” in the indigenous people of her nation and for teaching in a way that respected their culture. She is Colombia’s first saint and is the patron saint of: people suffering from racial discrimination, orphans, and the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Immaculate Mary and of Saint Catherine of Siena.


In his homily at the Mass of Canonization, Pope Francis said of St Laura, "This first saint, born in the beautiful country of Columbia, teaches us to be generous with God, not to live our faith alone – as if it were possible to live faith in an isolated way – but to communicate it, to convey the joy of the Gospel with words and the witness of life in every place in which we find ourselves. Wherever we live let this light of the Gospel shine! St Laura…teaches us to welcome all without prejudice, without discrimination, without reticence, with sincere love, giving them all the best of ourselves and above all sharing with them what is most precious to us, which is not our works or our organisations, no! Our most precious possession is Christ and his Gospel."

St. Paul of the Cross: Mystic, Priest, and Founder of the Passionists

Today, October 20, is the feast of St. Paul of the Cross (1694-1775), Italian priest, mystic, and founder of the Passionist Congregation.

Paul was born in Ovada, in northern Italy as Paolo Francesco Danei, the second oldest of sixteen children, eleven of whom died in infancy. His father was from a noble family that had been reduced to poverty over the years. His parents were devout Catholics and their strong faith provided the grace they needed to accept their trials. Paul’s mother had a deep and lively faith, which she shared with her son. She often read to him, sharing the writings of the desert fathers.  Paul received his early education from a priest and was a very virtuous and pious youth, who spent much time in prayer, attended daily Mass, and visited the Blessed Sacrament, without neglecting his duties. He had a great love and devotion for Christ Crucified.

As a young man, Paul enlisted in the Army, desiring to serve Christ in the Crusades; however, he abandoned soldiering to spend his life in solitary prayer. At the age of 19, he had a vivid experience of the depth of God's love which changed his life. As a result of this vision, he experienced a deep interior conversion and aspired to live a life of perfection. While still a layman, he left everything behind, including the offer of a good marriage as well as an inheritance left to him by an uncle who was a priest, to found the Passionists.

In 1727, Paul and his brother, John, were ordained as priests by Pope Benedict XII and they founded the first Passionist monastery in the mountains above Genoa. While contemplation and prayer were at the very heart of Paul's life and the life of his new institute, Paul himself soon became a prominent preacher, spiritual guide, as well as a writer and mystic. For Paul, the Passion of Christ was the most vivid witness to God's love for us and he continually called upon his followers to meditate on the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

It took from 1720 to 1741—twenty-one years of humble service as a hospital chaplain and traveling preacher combined with quiet perseverance in the face of official Church rejection—for Paul to receive his first papal authority to found his religious order, “The Congregation of the Passion.”

For over 40 years, Paul and his “like-minded companions,” the Passionists, preached the loving memory of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Paul would challenge his hearers to die a mystical death with Christ so as to rise up with Christ to a life of faith and love. The sick and the poor remained special recipients of Paul’s care, but he would also preach to the clergy and remind them of their obligations to serve the neglected.

During his lifetime Paul founded thirteen monasteries of Priests and Brothers throughout Italy as well as a monastery of Passionist Nuns. Today the Passionists live and serve in 59 countries of the world and are enhanced by other religious and lay groups who find inspiration in the Charism of St. Paul of the Cross.

Paul died in Rome on October 18, 1775. He was canonized on June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius IX. He is the patron saint of Hungary.

Quotes from St. Paul of the Cross

“[Christ crucified] is the pattern of all that is gentle and attractive…. Bury yourselves, therefore, in the heart of Jesus crucified, desiring nothing else but to lead all men to follow his will in all things.”

"The Mass is the most favorable occasion to speak with the eternal Father, because then we offer Him His only Son as a victim for our salvation. Before celebrating, reflect on the sufferings of your Redeemer, commune peaceably with Him, even in the midst of dryness; carry to the altar the needs of the entire world."

"When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings."

"Entrust yourself entirely to God. He is a Father, and a most loving Father at that, who would rather let heaven and earth collapse than abandon anyone who trusted in him."

"It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord, and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God. In this most holy school we learn true wisdom, for it was there that all the saints learned it. "

"The service of God does not require good words and good desires, but efficient workmanship, fervor and courage."

Prayer to Saint Paul of the Cross for His Intercession

O' glorious Saint Paul of the Cross, you were chosen by God to profess to all of humanity the bitter sufferings of His only-begotten Son, and to spread devotion to the Passion of Jesus throughout the world.

By your preaching and holy example Jesus converted thousands of sinners through you by bringing them to the foot of the Cross to repent of their sins, thereby obtaining for them His infinite forgiveness and mercy! May Jesus be blessed for His extraordinary grace that was so often made present in your life, and for the many miracles He worked through you for the conversion of souls!

O' blessed St Paul of the Cross, turning towards you now I ask that from your place with Jesus and Mary in heaven that you may look mercifully upon my poor soul and hear my prayers, and with all of your love humbly present them to Jesus for me (mention petitions).

Obtain for me also a great love of Jesus suffering, that by frequent meditation on His Passion I may take up my own cross and accept with holy resignation the sufferings that God has permitted in my life. Help me to suffer and to sacrifice in union with Jesus for the conversion of my poor soul, the souls of my loved ones, and for all of humanity. Help me to love Jesus and Mary with all of my heart, and intercede for me that I may, by the grace of God, die a holy death, and come at last to enjoy with you the blessed Presence of Jesus and Mary in Heaven for all of eternity.

One Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be....

I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sts. John de Brébeuf and Issac Jogues and their companions

On October 19, in the dioceses of the United States, the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. John de Brébeuf and  Issac Jogues and their companions, 17th century martyrs. They were six Jesuit priests and two lay brothers who traveled from France to North America to preach the gospel to the Huron and Mohawk natives in present-day New York, Quebec, and Onatario, Canada. They endured many horrific tortures and death in order to accomplish what they had set out to do.

In 1625, St. John de Brebuf, at age 32, entered into the Huron tribe in the harsh frontier of Canada. John had tuberculosis, but the climate so agreed with him that the Hurons, surprised at his endurance, called him Echon, which meant load bearer. John was tortured and martyred in 1649. The Indians, hoping to gain the incredible strength he had, drank his blood.

St. Issac Jogues was sent to Canada in 1636, where he worked among the Mowhawks. He was taken captive by the Iroquois in 1642 and imprisoned for thirteen months, where he was kept as a slave and beaten by the women of the tribe. While in captivity, Father Jogues secretly taught and baptized the other captives and slaves of the tribe.

His greatest sorrow was the torture that cost him the use of his hands. The law of the Church is that whatever other infirmities a priest may have, he must retain the use of his hands in order to celebrate the Eucharist.

After more than a year with the Iroquois, he was rescued by Dutch settlers and returned to France. There he obtained a dispensation to continue as a priest, despite the injuries to his hands, and eagerly returned to the New World to resume his duties. When he returned to Quebec twenty-four year later, he was tortured, decapitated, and martyred by the Iroquois tribe.

These eight North American Martyrs, were canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930. They are patrons of the Americas and Canada. The Shrine to North American Martyrs in Midland, Canada, is located at the Mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, where the Canadian martyrs had their mission.

Saint Quote

"My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings"
- from a letter of Isaac Jogues to a Jesuit friend in France, September 12, 1646, a month before he died

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

Today, October 18, is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. It is believed that St. Luke was born a Greek and a gentile. A physician at Antioch, and a painter, St. Luke became a convert of Saint Paul and afterwards his fellow-laborer. Luke was the writer of the Gospel and its "companion volume," the Acts of the Apostles and has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). Saint Luke shared the shipwreck and perils of Saint Paul's voyage to Rome, and was with him in his last days. He later died a martyr's death in Achaia. After St. John, St. Luke's writings (both his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles) are my favorite part of the New Testament.

Although Luke was not an eye witness, he was a historian who carefully researched his material and obtained details from eye witnesses. As a physician, Luke emphasizes the miracles and the merciful love of Jesus, which heals his children and welcomes all into his arms -- especially the sinner, the outcast, the gentile. Luke shows us the compassion of Jesus, especially toward women and children. He gives prominence not only to the group of women who follow him from the beginning of his ministry, but he also  to Mary, from the Incarnation and the infancy narratives to his mention of her being present with the Apostles at Pentecost. His is the only Gospel to give an account of the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. Luke's gospel is noted for its praise and thanksgiving and is a very poetic book. For example, Mary's song, 1:46-55. Song of Zacharias, 1:68-79, and The Song of the Angels, 2:8-14. Finally, Luke's is the gospel of Jesus praying, and his parables concerning prayer.

As a physician, St. Luke is the patron saint of the medical profession. He is also the patron of artists and painters, as tradition holds that he painted an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Luke is symbolized by the ox, The ox, recognized as the animal of sacrifice, was applied to St. Luke because his Gospel emphasizes the atonement made by Christ's sacrifice of himself on the Cross. (Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary)

Pro-life Prayer on the Feast of St. Luke 

By Terry Ann Modica

Our Father, Saint Luke was a physician who helped Saint Paul set up young faith communities. Because he is a patron saint of doctors, I ask him to pray for everyone in the medical field. May they see their work as a calling to serve You and become good examples of Your compassion. I ask him to pray especially for those involved in performing abortions or euthanasia. O Lord, teach them that all life is valuable. Soften their hearts and lead them to repentance. Help us who are pro-life to remember to love them always. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing. Saint Luke, pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

By Jean M. Heimann

St. Ignatius of Antioch ( c. 50 - c.107), whose feast we celebrate on October 17, was an early Church Father, bishop, and martyr.  Tradition tells us that he was a convert and a disciple of the Apostle Saint John. He is patron of the Church in eastern Mediterranean, the Church in North Africa and of throat diseases.

Ignatius was born in Syria during the 1st century and was surnamed Theophorus, which means “the God-Bearer.” When he became the Bishop of Antioch around the year 70, he assumed authority of a local church, which was first led by Saint Peter prior to his move to Rome. Antioch was known as “the place where the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians” (St. Alphonsus Liguori in “Martyrs of the First Ages”). Ignatius served as the third Bishop of Antioch, where he led his flock for nearly forty years.

Ignatius led the Christians of Antioch during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, the first of the emperors to declare his divinity by assuming the title “Lord and God.” Citizens who refused to pay him homage under this title were subject to punishment by death.  He protected his flock through preaching, prayer, and fasting. Thus, he modeled the virtue of fortitude and endeavored to encourage it in those entrusted to him.

Later, the Emperor Trajan convicted Ignatius for his Christian witness and sent him from Syria to Rome in chains to be put to death. A detailed description of the trip to Rome is given by Agathopus and a deacon named Philo, who were with him, and who also wrote down his dictation of the seven letters of instruction on the Church, marriage, the Trinity, the Incarnation, Redemption, and the Eucharist. The letters were directed to six local churches throughout the empire and to his fellow bishop Polycarp.

 Ignatius' letters emphasized: Church unity, the dangers of heresy, and the extraordinary value of the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality.” These writings include the earliest surviving record of the Church described as “Catholic,” from the Greek word expressing both universality and fullness.

St. Ignatius of Antioch gave his final witness to Christ in the Roman Amphitheater, where he was devoured by lions.  Prior to his death, he stated: “I am the wheat of the Lord. I must be ground by the teeth of these beasts to be made the pure bread of Christ.”

Friday, October 14, 2016

St. Teresa of Avila: Doctor of the Church

October 15 is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), virgin and Doctor of the Church. She helped reform the Carmelite order and founded seventeen monasteries.

Teresa de Ahumada y Cepeda was born in Avila, Castile, Spain, on March 28, 1515.  Her family was prominent, as her father was a wealthy merchant.  Teresa was the "most beloved" among her nine brothers and sisters.  From her youth, she showed great zeal and piety, as well as courage.  However, the one trait of Teresa that stood out the most was her strong will.  When she was seven years old, St. Teresa ran away with her brother to the land occupied by the Moors in hopes of attaining the crown of martyrdom.  However, they only made it a few miles down the road.

Teresa was considered by all those around her to be exceptionally beautiful. She also had an irresistible charm, a sharp wit, a kind nature, and was lively and animated. She was extroverted and sociable. Everyone loved to be around her.  She was skilled in embroidery, wonderful at housekeeping, and an excellent writer. Around the age of twelve, Teresa's piety  which she had possessed from her youth, began to wane as her interests turned towards her abilities, conversation, books of chivalry, and spending time with others, especially her cousins.  When Teresa was 15, her mother died. Seeing that she needed guidance and better companionship, her father placed Teresa in the care of the Augustinians at Santa Maria de Gracia.

It was during her time with the Augustinians that Teresa recovered her faith.  Teresa was determined not to become worldly, but she did not know whether she had a vocation to the religious life. Teresa decided she would enter a convent, but her father would not allow it.  As a result of the stress and despair Teresa felt, she became extremely ill.  She returned home to become well.  In 1535, at the age of 20, she ran away from home and entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation.  Her father, realizing it must be God's will, finally consented to Teresa's vocation, and became a benefactor of the monastery.  A year later, Teresa was professed, and she began to practice harsh penances and mortifications.  Soon she became quite ill again, and left the convent in search of a cure for her mysterious illness.  She eventually went back home to Avila and her father's house.  Here she fell into a coma for 4 days, and all thought that she had died.  She eventually came out of the coma, but was paralyzed and bedridden for 3 years.  When she was finally cured, she attributed her cure to St. Joseph.

The convent of the Incarnation was very lax in its observances. Because of Teresa's charm, many of the nobility and important people of Castile would come to the convent and Teresa would entertain them in the parlor.  It was also a common practice to go to spend time at the homes of these important people.  Soon Teresa had fallen into her old ways of conversation and worldliness.  Her spiritual mediocrity lasted for 17 years.

She was held back by her attachments to worldly things, as well as her attachments to others.  Eventually, with much struggle she overcame her attachments and her pride, and around the age of forty, she experienced a conversion and began to conform her life to God.  Her faithfulness to living the Gospel deepened her spiritual life.  She began to experience extraordinary favors from God.

Teresa realized that the life she lived at the convent of the Incarnation was not the way the Carmelite Fathers had originally intended the Carmelite life to be.  She vowed that she herself would follow the rule perfectly and "without mitigation."  Her sisters at the Incarnation caused her much pain because they did not approve of her aspirations.  However, she soon won a few other sisters over to her side, and despite opposition from her sisters and from the townsfolk, she established the convent of St. Joseph on August 24, 1562.  She endured much, including a lawsuit, but eventually the resistance subsided, and Teresa enjoyed several years of peace at her convent of St. Joseph.  It was during this time that she wrote her Way of Perfection.

It became clear to Teresa that it was the will of God to establish more foundations than just her convent of St. Joseph.  She began traveling around establishing convents, relying on the providence and direction of God.  She met Friar John Yepes in Medina del Campo, where her second foundation was established.  He became her ally in the reform.  John Yepes became John of the Cross, and along with Anthony of Jesus, established the first monastery for men at Duruelo.  Until the end of her life, Teresa was founding convents and monasteries.  She experienced every kind of opposition, persecution, and poverty; yet her foundations thrived.  Soon, Teresa was being asked by bishops to reform the already existing Carmelite monasteries. This caused much ill will between her reformed Carmelites and those that followed the Mitigated Rule.  For years there was a bitter struggle, and Teresa was turned against on all sides.  Finally the matter was settled when in 1580 Pope Gregory XIII recognized the reformed convents and monasteries as a separate province.  The reform was now known as the Discalced (shoeless) Carmelites, and Teresa was finally freed of restrictions.

Teresa is also known for her incomparable writings, which were produced during these busy and turbulent times.  Her most famous works are her Autobiography, Way of Perfection, and Interior Castle.  Teresa was a woman of deep spirituality and complete detachment from the world, yet she never lost her charm or her sense of humor.

Teresa died on October 4, 1582 (October 14 by the Gregorian calendar, which we use today) at Alba, just months after establishing her last foundation.  She was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, and in 1970 she was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI-the first woman ever to be given that great honor by the Church.

Excerpts from Interior Castle:

"This body has one fault, that the more people pamper it, the more its wants are made known. It is strange how much it likes to be indulged. How well it finds some good pretext to deceive the poor soul! . . . Oh, you who are free from the great troubles of the world, learn to suffer a little for the love of God without everyone's knowing it! . . . "

"Sometimes the Devil proposes to us great desires, so that we shall not put our hand to what we have to do, and serve our Lord in possible things, but stay content with having desired impossible ones. Granting that you can help much by prayer, don't try to benefit all the world, but those who are in your company, and so the work will be better for you are much bounden to them...."

A LOVE SONG by Saint Teresa of Avila

Majestic sovereign, timeless wisdom, your kindness melts my hard, cold soul.
Handsome lover, selfless giver, your beauty fills my dull, sad eyes.
I am yours, you made me.
I am yours, you called me.
I am yours, you saved me.
I am yours, you loved me.
I will never leave your presence.
Give me death, give me life.
Give me sickness, give me health.
Give me honor, give me shame.
Give me weakness, give me strength.
I will have whatever you give. Amen.

St. Teresa's Bookmark

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing; God never changes.

Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
  God alone suffices.

~ St. Teresa of Avila

Top Twenty Quotes from St. Teresa of Avila

Prayer for a Busy Life by St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila on Contemplation

Virtual Carmelite Choir celebrates the 500th anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila's birth

Thursday, October 13, 2016

St. Callistus I: Saint of Mercy

On October 14, we commemorate St. Callistus I, who was a slave, a convict, pope, and martyr. The saint caused a major controversy, including a schism that lasted almost two decades, by choosing to emphasize God's mercy toward sinners. However, it was this enduring aspect of his leadership, as well as his martyrdom, that has confirmed his holiness.

St. Callistus (martyred c.222) was once a young slave in Rome, who got into serious trouble. He was put in charge of his master’s bank, but mishandled his money, and lost a large sum. Out of fear, he ran away, but was caught, put in chains, and was sentenced to do hard labor in the city.

Later on, he became involved in a riot in a local synagogue and was sent to the mines of Sardinia. When, at Pope Victor’s request, the emperor freed all the Christians who had been condemned to those mines, Callistus was freed, too. From that time on, things began to improve for him.

Pope St. Zephrinus (119-217) came to know and trust the freed slave. The pope brought him to Rome, ordained him, and made him his administrator and advisor. He put him in charge of the cemetery and places of worship, which some wealthy people had made available to the Christians.

In 217, St. Callistus himself became pope. Some people complained because he showed too much mercy to sinners. However, the holy pope ruled that even murderers could be admitted to Communion after they had done penance for their sin. This great pope always defended the true doctrine of Jesus.

He was martyred and was buried at the 3rd mile on the Via Aurelia on October 14, 222.

The Catacombs of St Callistus is a complex network of underground chambers, which expands for miles. Take a virtual tour of the Catacombs of St. Callistus.

Novena to Pope St. John Paul II begins today

Those of us who cherished Pope St. John Paul II knew that he was a great man, whom we not only admired, but loved. We knew that he was a saint and would one day be declared so officially by the Catholic Church. His successor wisely waived the five year waiting period for opening the cause for canonization, and just nine years after his death, on the feast of Divine Mercy in April 27, 2014, he was canonized.

The novena to Pope St. John Paul II begins today, October 13 and ends on October 21.

Novena Prayer to Pope St. John Paul II

Most holy servant of God, Pope St. John Paul II, we pray today for the youth and for World Youth Day.

We ask you to grant us your blessing from heaven! God gave you the grace of His fatherly tenderness and the spirit of His love from which we can all learn. We humbly implore you to intercede for us:

(State your intentions)

Most holy St. John Paul II, you were a witness of Jesus Christ for the whole world. You lit the world on fire with your passion for Christ and the Church. Trusting in God’s infinite mercy and in the intercession of Mary, you have shown us the path to reach eternal communion with God. And we we ask that you pray for us…

Day 1: Pray for us, that those who are unhappy will be filled with great joy.

Day 2: Pray for us, that we can convey forgiveness to those who have done wrong.

Day 3: Pray for us, that we will be guided and protected as we walk the difficult paths of the world today.

Day 4: Pray for us, that we will have the grace to see the goodness in our experiences every day.

Day 5: Pray for us, that we may bear witness to your mercy.

Day 6: Pray for us, that we may share the faith to those in doubt.

Day 7: Pray for us, that we may give hope to those who are discouraged.

Day 8: Pray for us, that we may love those who feel indifferent.

Day 9: Pray for us, that the love you have sparked in us transforms hearts and renews the face of the earth.

St. John Paul II, we know that you are a powerful intercessor because of your great example of how to live the faith. Grant us, through your intercession, the grace to also happily glorify God in our lives.

Hail Mary…

Glory be…


Via Pray More Novenas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fatima: The Ninety-Ninth Anniversary of the Miraculous Miracle of the Sun

The Visionaries -- Jacinta, 6, Francisco, 8, and Lucia, 9

By Jean M. Heimann

On Sunday in October 13, 1917, at midday, a crowd of approximately 100,000 spectators gathered on a rainy day in a wet, soggy field to witness the miracle that was about to take place. The people had gathered there because three shepherd children had predicted that at high noon Our Lady who had appeared to them several times would perform a great miracle in a field near Fatima, Portugal called Cova da Iria.

“Silence, Silence, Our Lady is coming!” Lucia shouted out, over the din of the crowd, as she saw the bright flash of light in the sky over the holm oak tree. Everyone grew quiet; a holy hush came over the crowd as they instantly fell to their knees. It was as if there was an electrically charged current running through the crowd, as they waited in eager anticipation of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God.

Suddenly, she appeared. Our Lady was dressed all in white with brilliant beams of bright light emanating from her. She rested her luminous white feet upon the small evergreen tree, adorned with flowers and ribbons.

Lucia asked: "What does Your Grace wish of me?"

Our Lady answered: "I wish to tell you that I want a chapel built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes."

Lucia: "I have many things to ask you: if you would cure some sick persons, and if you would convert some sinners..."

Our Lady: "Some yes, others no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins." Growing gloomier, she added, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”

Then, as Our Lady opened her hands, they began glowing, and as she stood up, her own radiant rays bonded with the bright blaze of the sun.

At that moment, Lucia cried out, "Look at the sun!"
Once Our Lady had vanished, three visions followed in succession, which symbolized the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries. Lucia alone viewed all three visions; Francisco and Jacinta saw only the first.

First, Saint Joseph appeared by the sun with the Child Jesus and Our Lady of the Rosary. It was the Holy Family. The Virgin was dressed in white with a blue mantle. Saint Joseph was also dressed in white, and the Child Jesus in light red. Saint Joseph blessed the crowd, making the Sign of the Cross three times. The Child Jesus did the same.

Second, there was a vision of Our Lady of Sorrows and of Our Lord overwhelmed with sorrow on the way to Calvary. Our Lord made the Sign of the Cross to bless the people.

Finally, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned queen of heaven and earth, appeared in a glorious vision holding the Child Jesus near her heart.

While these three visions transpired, the crowd of 70,000 spectators witnessed the miracle of the sun. It had rained throughout the apparition. At the end of the discussion between Our Lady and Lucia –Lucia cried out, "Look at the sun!"

The crowd stood up and looked up at the sky, entranced by an amazing array of visions. The clouds parted, exposing the sun as an enormous silver disc, shining with extreme intensity. Then, the huge disk started to "dance." The sun spun swiftly like a revolving ball of fire. Then it stopped abruptly for a moment, only to start spinning again. Its outer edges turned scarlet red; spinning, it scattered its fiery flames across the sky. The reflection of the flames changed the colors of everything around them– the trees, the people, the earth, and even the air.  Shimmering shades of yellow, blue, and white colors painted the environment. Finally, the ball of fire trembled, shook, and then plunged in a zigzag pattern toward the terrified crowd.

Fearing that this was the end of the world, the people dropped to their knees and cried out in unison, weeping and praying, begging God to have mercy on them.

All this lasted about ten minutes. Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original spot in the sky and returned to normal.

Surprisingly, people noticed that their clothes, soaking wet from the rain, had dried.

The miracle of the sun was also seen by several witnesses up to twenty-five miles away from the apparition site.

The Portugal news and other newspapers at that time reported the miraculous event.

On October 13, 1930 at the Cova da Iria, before a crowd of over 100,000 pilgrims, the Bishop of Leiria read his pastoral letter which ended with the following declaration:

"We deem it well: 1. to declare worthy of belief the vision of the shepherds at the Cova da Iria, in the Parish of Fatima, of this Diocese, on the thirteenth day of the months from May to October, 1917; 2. to give official permission for the cult of Our Lady of Fatima."

What does our Lady ask of us today?  She continues to plead with us to pray the Rosary daily. The Rosary is one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal for spiritual warfare. It is a grace-filled contemplative prayer that aids us in bringing about a more fruitful spiritual life for not only for our own souls, but for the souls of others. It is a powerful way to bring souls to conversion. Some of the most hardened sinners will turn back to God when we pray the Rosary, asking for Our Lady's intercession. Praying the Rosary is one of the most effective ways of putting an end to the greatest evils of our time.

The True Story of Fatima: A Complete Account of the Fatima Apparitions