In May, 2000, the long-awaited "third prophecy" of Fatima was finally revealed by the Vatican. For some, it was a relief and for others an anticlimactic disappointment
The "miracle at Fatima" is arguably the most well-known apparition of the Blessed Mother. Her appearance to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917 was, according to many witnesses, accompanied by several unexplained events, including a shared vision of the sun dancing and moving about erratically in the sky.
During her many appearances to the children, "Our Lady" bestowed upon them three prophecies. The first two were disclosed by Lucia dos Santos, the eldest of the three children, after she wrote them down in the early 1940s, but the third and final prophecy was not to be revealed until 1960. Well, 1960 came and went, and the third prophecy was not revealed because the Vatican said the world was not quite ready for it. This reluctance to disclose the secret lead to speculation among the faithful that it contained information about our future that was so horrific that the Pope dared not reveal it. Perhaps it foretold a nuclear war... or the end of the world.
THE FIRST PROPHECY
In the first prophecy, the children were shown a terrifying vision of Hell and were told that's "where the souls of poor sinners go." Then they were told that the world war then taking place - what we now call World War I - would soon end. "The war is going to end," Lucia quoted the Blessed Mother as saying, "but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given to you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father."
Did this prophecy come true? World War I did indeed end and was followed by a worse war, World War II. But remember that Lucia revealed this prophecy in writing during 1940 - after the Second World War had already begun. Also, it's interesting that Pius XI is actually named in the prophecy. When the apparition of Our Lady allegedly made the prophecy in 1917, Benedict XV was Pope. Pius XI became Pope in 1922. So either Our Lady also predicted the name of the future Pope, who reigned until 1939, or Lucia did some prophecy fulfilling of her own.
What about the sign of "a night illuminated by an unknown light" before the outbreak of war? According to Fatima Prophecies, "on January 25, 1938, a remarkable display of aurora borealis was visible across Europe, the year before World War II began." The Secrets of Fatima elaborates: "This aurora appeared as far south as Galicia, Spain, where Sister Lucy was then cloistered, and she, the only survivor of the three Fatima shepherds, recognized it immediately as the sign. Visible even to Pius XI in Rome, the unprecedented aurora was accompanied by a 'crackling' sound, possibly attributable to discharges of atmospheric energy. Indeed, in many areas of Europe, panic broke out, as the populace concluded that the world was on fire and that the End had come." This display of northern lights might have illuminated the night in some spectacular fashion, but even in 1917 the aurora borealis was hardly an "unknown light." Also, again, Lucia revealed this prophecy after the fact.
THE SECOND PROPHECY
"When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays [of each month]. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated."
Many believers assert that this prophecy foresees the spreading of Communism by Russia, which had become the Soviet Union. Wars were, of course, fought to halt the spread of Communism. Then in 1984, Pope John Paul II consecrated the Soviet Union. Subsequently, in 1991, the Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 separate countries, but it can hardly be said that Russia has undergone a religious conversion. Has there been peace as predicted? While there haven't been any worldwide wars, there have been many minor ones (if any war can be considered minor) and the world still is not a peaceful place.
When it comes down to it, the accuracy of the first two Fatima prophecies rests on faith. Skeptics can poke large holes into them while believers hold them up as proof that Heaven has a vested interest in life on the Earth. So what of the third prophecy?
Next page: The Third Secret Revealed