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Plans underway to mark 100th anniversary of Fatima

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Father Eric Bowman (Courtesy Photo)
Father Eric Bowman (Courtesy Photo)

It was 100 years ago, in the village of Fatima, Portugal, when three children —Lucia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marta, were visited six times by an angel — preparing them for an even more significant messenger — the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared to them on six occasions.

During her 1917 visits, our Blessed Mother imparted three secrets: a vision of hell; a prophecy of World War II, and the 20th Century as an age of martyrdom, said Father Eric Bowman, pastor of the Church of the Transfiguration in West Milton, who has studied Fatima.

Father Bowman has been named spiritual director for a journey to Europe next year. “We’re going to a couple of Marian sites including Fatima Oct. 9 through the 25th. So, we will be there for the anniversary. We will be there on the 13th in Fatima for the great celebration of the year” — when the initial apparition occurred.”

“I’ve been there once in 2011,” Father Bowman added. I went there for World Youth Day in Spain. My group and I went for four days to Fatima before going to southern Spain and then up to Madrid. We had the privilege of getting a chance, through an interpreter, to speak to Lucy, a niece of the children, who every day goes up to a well — a place where the three children went — their sanctuary. That’s where the angel appeared to them. Lucy still goes out there every day and prays the rosary for a couple hours. She still does. She 78 or 79 now.”

Praying the Rosary daily is a key element imparted by the Mother of God to the children. Father Bowman noted: “The children were given the Eucharist by the Angel during the last visit and taught them a beautiful prayer. Fatima is a continuing echo of the Gospels. It’s about Eucharist. It’s about the relationship with Christ through the heart of his mother. It’s about … the things we battle and fight against.”

So, Fatima remains relevant today. “We like demarcations and 100 is a big deal, (but) this also plays into Pope Leo the 13th and his vision for the Saint Michael prayer,” Father Bowman said. “As he was praying, he went into an almost state of ecstasy. People could not wake him up and he overheard a conversation between Satan and Our Lord. Satan said: ‘If you give me more time and more power, I can bring down your church.’ Our Lord asked: ‘What do you want?’ and Satan replies that he wants more influence over people and, ‘with that, … I can destroy your church.’

“There is no clear date of when Pope Leo actually had the dream. Someone put it on Oct. 13, 1884, so 33 years before Fatima. But there is no clear date. While there are a lot of unknowns, there is the fact the church is very clear that this is real; that it is legitimate.” “I also think one of the big things is that we are called to John Paul II who had a huge devotion to Fatima. On May 13, 1981, when his attempted assassination occurred… Experts say the bullet was guided by the Mother’s hand. The way it went through the pope’s body, they said, there was no way a bullet will act that way. It missed all of the vital organs by fractions and I think John Paul then really looked to Fatima and it affected the whole world. The bullet is in the crown of Fatima. They call it the miracle statue. It’s at the place where our Blessed Mother appeared.

“Another ‘cool’ thing is with Blessed Jacinta. She is the youngest Blessed in our church. And the rumors are she will be canonized next year and I hope they are true. She was nine years old when she died. For two years, she had a giant wound in her side. It was gangrenous. Doctors … went into her room. The stench was so wretched. When she died she was considered the youngest mystic of the church. She was the heart and soul of Fatima, not Lucia. When Lucia wrote her first memoirs (in the 1940s) the very first memoir was all about Jacinta’s response to our Lady… The moment she died, next to her bed the lamp was out of oil yet it came to light and began to shine… When they exhumed her body in 1935, she had actually aged underground and she was partially incorrupt, yet she seemed to have aged about 10 years and they said the Bishop of Fatima at the time said her body now matched the age of her soul.

“Jacinta took on unbelievable sacrifices for sinners. She prayed especially for the pope and she probably saw the assassination attempt on John Paul’s life. She prayed for priests and the conversion of sinners,” Father Bowman said “Francisco, her brother, prayed more to console the heart of Jesus,” Father Bowman explained. “He saw how sad He was for the sins that had been committed and I think that idea of consoling the heart of Jesus and the heart of Mary reflects upon how we look at our world today. It is filled with anger and violence and dissension and sin and people are saying there has to be something more than this. Fatima offers us that.

“I think John Paul and what we see in our world today is the reason for the Blessed Mother saying: ‘Here is the key. Pray the rosary every day.’” The concept of praying the rosary on the five first Saturdays stems from the five ways in which people offended and blasphemed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary — the Immaculate Conception, her virginity, her divine maternity, publicly impairing the hearts of children, insulting her directly in sacred images.

“Father Robert Fox has written several books and he said Fatima begins and ends with the Eucharist,’ Father Bowman said. “That May 13, when our Blessed Mother appeared was the feast day of Our Lady of the Eucharist. The very first prayer Mary taught the children on May 13 when the light enveloped the children and without being taught, they began to say a beautiful prayer: ‘Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.’”

For information about the group tour to Fatima led by Father Bowman, visit http://www.206tours.com/fatima2017/j/index.html

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