2016年10月1日 星期六

The Mysteries at Fatima (花地瑪的奧祕)

Fatima is a birthplace of legends: facts mixed with the stuffs of imagination and subjective good wishes, politics and the propensity of ordinary people to believe in the exotic and the "supernatural". In 1916, three illiterate Portuguese shepherd girls claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary dressed in white whilst tending their flock at the Cova da Iria,at Fatima, a small village of less than 8,000, some 116 miles south of Porto and 76 miles north of Lisbon. They claimed that as early as 1916, they had been thrice visited by an "Angel of Peace" who taught them to say some prayers, to make some sacrifices and to spend their time adoring the Lord. Then Mary appeared to them on 13th May, 1917 wearing a white mantle edged with gold, holding  a rosary in her hand and looking "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun". They said she asked  them to devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and to say "the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war." (WWII having already started in 1914). The "Rosary" is the set of prayers recited with the help of a string of beads with a cross  attached to its lower end. It starts with the sign of the Cross and the "Apostles' Creed", then 1 "Our father", 3 "Hail Mary", 1 "Glory be to the Father", followed by contemplating the   "mysteries"of faith viz. Joyful Mysteries, Luminous Mysteries, Sorrowful Mysteries, Glorious Mysteries, (each consisting of 10 "Hail Mary" followed by 1 "Our Father" and ending with 1 "Glory be to the Father"). There 3 girls were Lúcia dos Santos (later known as Sister Lúcia of Fátima) and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. They claimed that that they were told to return to the same place on the 13th of June, 1916. They did. On that occasion, Mary allegedly told Lucia that Jacinta and Francisco Marto would soon die but that Lucia must remain so that she might spread the message of devotion to the Immaculate Heart. However this later claim was made only after Jacinta and Francisco had actually died of the Spanish flu  Francisco Marto died at home on 4 April 1919, at the age of ten and Jacinta died in hospital, at the age of nine on 20th February 1920. They are buried at the Sanctuary of Fátima, and were beatified by Pope John Paul II on 13 May 2000.
A total of 6 visions were reported, though later, after two of them had died, the survivor Lucia amplified her claims by adding in more previously undisclosed details and more Marian apparitions in some of her 6 "memoires", each adding in more previously undisclosed details.
Lucia became first a sister of the Dorothean Order and later the Carmelite Order and lived to 97 She died in 2005.  
According to her, at the age of fourteen, she was sent to the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar. In 1928 she became a postulant at the Dorothean convent in Tui, just across the border. She continued to report having private visions periodically throughout her life. She reported seeing the Virgin Mary again in 1925 at the Dorothean convent at Pontevedra, Galicia (Spain). This time she said she was asked to convey the message of the First Saturday Devotions. She also reported an apparition in Rianxo, Galicia,in 1931, in which she said that Jesus visited her, taught her two prayers and delivered a message to give to the church's hierarchy. By her account a subsequent vision of Christ as a child reiterated this request
In 1929, she reported that Mary returned and repeated her request for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. The lady also allegedly revealed to the children a vision of hell, and entrusted to them a secret, "that was good for some and bad for others". The local priest Ferreira later stated that Lúcia told him that the lady told her, "I want you to come back on the thirteenth and to learn to read in order to understand what I want of you. ...I don't want more."

This is the sign at the entrance to the square at the square in front of the shrine at Fatima

A minimalist cross at the head of the square

A closer view of the cross

The same cross a little further away. At the right of the photo is a carpeted path in light blue for people kneeling their way to the Marian shrine, where first a small chapel was built by the locals with neither encouragement nor prohibition by the local priest. That little chapel has now been demolished and is replaced by a huge monumental chapel.

This is that huge Chapel of the Apparitions. The 3 children claimed that they had seen Mary 6 times, the first on 13th May, 1916 and continued to do so on the 13th of each month. The last time was on 13th October, 1917, shortly before the "October Revolution" of atheist Communist Russia occurred on 25th October, 1917 according to the old Russian calendar, corresponding to 23rd November, 1917 in the Gregorian calendar. She asked the little girls to repent for their sins and pray for peace. On that last occasion, between 30,000 and 100,000 also gathered there. Some claimed to have seen the sun dancing and changing colors at the time when Mary appeared to the little girls, although apart from the 3 girls, none of those present actually saw her. Some even claimed to have seen a luminous mist and showers of flower petals. But no such unusual phenomena was reported to have occurred there according to official sources. Some of those who were present claimed to have seen nothing at all. Whatever the truth maybe, there's no denying that a huge tourist industry has sprung up in Fatima based on such stories.
Believe it or not, this is what sister Lucia said:about the 3 secrets which God had confided to her"

1. 1st Secret:  a vision of hell, which she said she experienced on 13th July 1917 (See Lúcia de Jesus, Fátima In Lúcia's Own words (1995), The Ravengate Press, pp.101,104)
2. 2nd Secret: a recommending for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a way to save souls and bring peace to the world. It predicted an end to the First World War but also that a worse war would come if people do not stop offending God. This second war would be presaged by a night illuminated by an unknown light, as a "great sign" that the time of chastisement was near. To avert this, Mary would return to ask for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, and the establishment of the First Saturday Devotions. If her requests were heeded, Russia would be converted, and there would be peace; if not, Russia would spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. It ended with a promise that in the end, the Immaculate Heart would triumph. The Holy Father would consecrate Russia to Mary, and a period of peace would be granted to the world." (ibid 104)
On 25 January 1938 (during solar cycle 17), bright lights, an aurora borealis appeared over the northern hemisphere, including in places as far south as North Africa, Bermuda and California.(..Petrisko, Thomas W., Rene Laurentin, and Michael J. Fontecchio, The Faitma Prophecies: At the Doorstep of the World p. 48, St. Andrews Productions 1998 ) It was the widest occurrence of the aurora since 1709 ( "Aurora borealis glows in widest area since 1709" - Chicago Daily Tribune, 26 January 1938, p.2 ) and people in Paris and elsewhere believed a great fire was burning and fire departments were called. Sister Lúcia indicated that it was the sign foretold and so apprised her superior and the bishop in letters the following day. (Petrisko Thomas et al op cit 48)  Just over a month later, Hitler attacked Austria and 8 months later invaded Czechoslovakia
3. The third secret: "After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!' And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal asperorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God." (The Message of Fátima (2000), The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) 

The small shrine in front of the huge chapel is where the first apparition was supposed to have happened. John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life following an assassination attempt on the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima, 1981. He donated the bullet that wounded him to the Roman Catholic Sanctuary at Fátima and it was placed in the crown of the Virgin's statue.

The tomb of Lucia on the left and of Jacinta on the right

This is the tomb of Francisco Marto, one of the three who claimed to have seen the Mother of the Rosary..

A monument to the pastor: Mary's Assumption into Heaven as the Mother of Jesus

The altar of the chapel

The Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus to Mary by an Angel

Elizabeth, Mary's cousin and the mother of John the Baptist, visits Mary 

The Birth of Jesus

Jesus being presented to the three wise men from the East

Jesus learning with the Rabbis at the Temple at age 12


Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before he was crucified

Jesus being crowned with the crown of thorns

A woman helps Jesus on his way to Mount Calvary

Jesus being nailed to the Cross

Jesus rising from the dead three days after his death on the cross

The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven 40 days after he rose from the dead

The corridor of the on both sides of the chapel are filled with statues

A corner of corridor of the Chapel

The Chapel through the arches of the corridor

Another view of the chapel

Flower in the flower bed in front of the corridor

A worshiping session for the faithfuls

A slice of the Berlin Wall, built 1961, demolished 1989

A monument of liberation

Jesus giving his blessings: Christians claim that only Jesus will truly set us free: free from selfishness, free from pride, free from envy, free from greed, free from lust, free from gluttony,, free from anger and free from all the normal sins which afflict ordinary humanity. I don't think they are wrong. But then, so does Buddha. So does Muhuammed. So does Lao Tzu.