On the day of the final
apparition, October 13, 1917, she identified herself as "Our Lady of
the Rosary" and the dramatic episode of the dance of the sun took
place, witnessed by a crowd of seventy-thousand people, in which the sun
seemed to tumble from the sky. After a lengthy diocesan inquiry, a
declaration of the Bishop of Leiria, in whose
diocese these apparitions occurred, approved the devotion to Our Lady of
Fatima in 1930. The young visionary Francisco had died on April 4, 1919 and
his sister Jacinta on February 20, 1920. The sole survivor, Sister Lucia,
lived many years as a professed Carmelite nun, before her death on February
The first structure to
be built on the location of the apparitions was a small archway which was
soon replaced by a tiny chapel over the spot of the apparitions. When this
first chapel was destroyed by dynamite in 1922, a second chapel was built
and near to it the Pavilion of the Sick.
stone for the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary was laid on October 13,
1928 and the finished structure was solemnly consecrated by Cardinal Cerejeira, the Patriarch of Lisbon, on October 6, 1953.
In the colonnade of the Basilica, there are fifteen altars, in honor of the
mysteries of the Rosary.
On October 31, 1942, in
honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the apparitions, the Supreme
Pontiff, Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) solemnly consecrated the world to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary. His Papal Legate, Cardinal Masella, crowned the
statue of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 1946, the three-hundredth
anniversary of the consecration of the nation of Portugal to Mary
On the occasion of the
fiftieth Anniversary of the apparitions, on May 13, 1967, His Holiness Pope
Paul VI (1963-1978) went to Fatima on a pilgrimage of prayer and peace. On
that occasion, he published an Apostolic Exhortation, Signum Magnum,
in which he invited "all members of the Church to consecrate
themselves to Mary Immaculate and to put this pious act into concrete
action in their daily lives."
Pope John Paul II
offered Mass in Fatima on May 13, 1982, to give thanks for Mary's
intercession in saving his life a year earlier. He reminded the faithful
that "the message of Fatima is a call to conversion and repentance, the
nucleus of the message of the Gospel." He re-consecrated the world to
Mary's Immaculate Heart and called all to prayer,
especially the Rosary.
Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello