Friday, October 13, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the final appearance of Our Lady of Fatima to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in Fatima, Portugal. This final appearance became popularly known as the “Miracle of the Sun”. The children reported seeing a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light.” The woman wore a white mantle edged with gold. She asked them to “pray the rosary every day in order to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.” Years later, Sister Lucia Santos, one of the three children at Fatima described this vision to Jose Ferreira Thedim, a famous sculptor in Portugal who then sculpted this image of Mary. According to Sr Lucia, Mary appeared in this final vision as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This statue is now housed at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown, New York.
In order to mark this occasion, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel held a special mass in the chapel. The Main celebrant and homilist was Bishop Dominick Lagonegro, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York. Fr Michael Kissane, O.Carm., Prior Provincial of the St Elias Province of Carmelites and Fr Paul Denault, O.Carm. Pastor of Mt Carmel Parish in Middletown concelebrated. About 200 lay Carmelites, novices, Carmelite Sisters and laity attended the mass.
Bishop Lagonegro is of Portuguese decent on his mother’s side. He began his homily by showing those gathered a photograph of the crowd who were present for this final apparition. He pointed out two people in the picture who were his aunt and uncle. He shared with those gathered the account of his aunt and uncle as to what they saw and the challenge of Our Lady of Fatima to the three children to work and pray for peace.
He said that his aunt and uncle told him that during the night of October 12-13 it had rained throughout, soaking the ground and the pilgrims who made their way to Fátima from all directions by the thousands. During the day on October 13, before the astonished eyes of the crowd the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws. The sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people. The rains stopped, the sky cleared up and the ground dried up.
He pointed out that in 1917 the world was in the midst of World War I. This war would cost Europe an entire generation, over 37 million lives. Portugal at the time was also in political chaos at home. The monarchy had been replaced by a republic. Government officials, under the influence of Freemasonry, were not sympathetic to the Faith.
Bishop Lagonegro noted that like the time of the apparitions, our world today is desperately in need of peace. The threat of nuclear warfare is real. He said that the only thing that will bring peace is prayer and penance (sacrifice).
Each time the Blessed Virgin appeared to the three children at Fatima, she repeated Her requests that we pray the Rosary each day. In the final vision, on October 13, 1917, Our Lady silently held out the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel as a sign of Her desire that we undertake this great devotion. In fact, Sister Lucy has stated that “the Scapular and the Rosary are inseparable.” Emerging from faith, prayer becomes the unshakeable foundation for peace. Bishop Lagonegro invited all to listen to the words of Mary and continually pray for peace in our world. He also spoke on the need for penance and sacrifice. He noted that at Fatima, Mary told the seers that people must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. In order for peace to come to our world all must recognize their own sinfulness and change their ways. He reminded all that the message of Fatima is not only relevant today. It is desperately needed!
At the end of Mass Fr Michael Kissane, O.Carm. thanked Bishop Lagonegro for his presence. He also mentioned that he himself has been to Fatima three times and always found it to be a very prayerful experience. Special thanks was also extended to the novices who served the mass, the musicians and the Shrine and Development office staff who helped promote and organize the day. After mass light refreshments were served in the Edith Stein conference room and lounge.
For more information on the Shrine or to plan a group visit please contact the Director of the Shrine, Carol Bezak at 845-343-1879 or visit the website of the Shrine at: ourladyofmtcarmelshrine.com.