Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
Photography: MARLENE QUARONI | FC
MIAMI | On a recent weeknight, Luciana Barnabei drove from her west Broward suburb to St. Michael the Archangel Church in Miami to attend a service. The service commemorated the centenary of the deaths of two shepherd children who witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
“I believe in the Fatima apparitions and I believe that when you pray the rosary we are saving the lives of unborn babies that might have been aborted, and we are converting souls,” said the Weston resident.
Barnabei was one of the worshippers who packed the Flagler Street church April 4 for a Mass, prayer of the World Rosary for Peace, adoration and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in commemoration of St. Francisco and his sister, St. Jacinta Marto, who received messages from the Virgin Mary.
Those at the service received a prayer card with photos of Francisco and Jacinta on the front that said, “Contemplate like Francisco” and “Love like Jacinta.” A prayer of Fatima’s Angel of Peace was printed on the back of the card.
The children were victims of the Spanish influenza pandemic in 1919 and 1920. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, also witnessed the apparitions and later became a nun.
The coordinator of the centenary project, Father Hector Alfonso Ramirez, asked Mother Adela Galindo, founder of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, to organize centenary services in the Americas.
“I sent out instructional materials to bishops in the United States, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Paraguay and Uruguay about organizing services within their dioceses,” said Mother Adela.
Don Rui Marto, pastor of the parish in Fatima, is promoting the project with the collaboration of Father Carlos Cabecinhas, rector of the Shrine of Fatima, and the approval and blessing of Don Antonio Marto, bishop of Leiria-Fatima.
“The children began seeing an apparition of an angel who identified himself as the Angel of Peace in the spring of 1917,” said Mother Adela. “He taught them prayers, to make sacrifices and to spend time in adoration of the Lord. In May 1917, the children began seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary whom the children described as more brilliant than the sun. She told them to pray the rosary every day to bring peace to the world and an end to the war, World War I.”
Starting in the late 1930s, Sister Lucia began to publish memoirs of the Fatima events and recounted secrets that the Blessed Mother revealed to her and her cousins.
On June 13, 2017, Our Lady said Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to heaven soon, but Lucia would live a long life in order to spread her message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On July 13, Our Lady revealed the first secret, a vision of hell, and asked the children to pray for the souls there.
“The second secret predicted the end of World War I, but predicted a worse war if people didn’t stop offending God,” Mother Adela said. “Mary returned to ask for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the establishment of the First Saturday devotion. If not, Russia would spread her atheism throughout the world and cause war and persecutions of the Church. Our Lady promised that the Immaculate Heart would eventually triumph, and the Holy Father would consecrate Russia to Mary and a period of peace would be granted to the world.”
The third secret is said to refer to the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II’s life, May 13, 1981. He credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life. Pope Benedict XVI has said that the third secret of Fatima not only referred to the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, but that its significance could be extended to include the suffering that the Church is going through today as a result of the ongoing reports of sexual abuse.
Pope Francis canonized Francisco and Jacinta on May 13, 2017 at a Mass in Fatima. The decision followed papal confirmation of a miracle attributed to the intercession of the two visionaries.
Father Joseph Rogers, a Washington, D.C. diocesan priest, celebrated the Mass at St. Michael and preached the homily. He is part of a new initiative by the Servants of the Pierced Hearts: the establishment of a male branch of their religious order. He said there are five men in the preliminary stages of discernment to be priests or brothers in the order.
He called the Fatima shepherds great role models. “We have to be like those children to allow ourselves to be guided by the Blessed Mother,” he said. “We must have hearts that are pure and simple.”
Mother Adela said the Servants will organize another ceremony for the closing of the centenary on the 100th anniversary of St. Jacinta’s death, Feb. 20, 2020.