I was recently listening to a broadcast on which I heard the popular story of three young sheepherding children from the town of Fatima, in Portugal. These youngsters were age 7, 8 and 10 when they first started having visions in 1917 of what appeared to be a woman clothed in white, who was “brighter than the sun.” This entity, claiming to be from Heaven, called herself “the Lady of the Rosary” (supposedly Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ). The children had one of these visions each month for six months, the last month climaxing with a great “miracle” where the sun appeared to be “dancing” in the sky in the presence of 70,000 people.
One can often determine the true source of a vision or apparition by the substance of its message. So let’s take a look at some of the details of the message proclaimed in these visions.
7 Points to Consider
The first point we want to mention is that the “woman” in the vision made a request to the children to bear and accept sufferings “as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners.”
Apparently, this influenced the children to do certain things, like wearing tight cords around their waists to cause pain, beating themselves with stinging nettles, refusing to drink water on hot days and other works of “penance,” sacrifice, and suffering.
There are different meanings of the word “reparations,” like a payment, compensation, or satisfaction for a debt, etc. But the “reparations” in this context are not speaking of the type of personal reparations where your neighbor accidentally throws a baseball through your window and is then obligated to fix it… no, it’s speaking of conversion and having your sins forgiven as it is used in paragraphs #616 and #1414 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
But suffering for the sake of “reparation” for the forgiveness of sins of yourself or others is totally unbiblical, and should be especially insulting to true believers. According to the Bible (Hebrews 10:14-18), Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross has already provided any and all the “reparations” that we could ever need to be forgiven for our sins, and He doesn’t need any “help.” That one sacrifice, and it alone, is what every one of us needs to trust in for salvation, not anyone else’s suffering, penance or sacrifices.
Second, the woman in the vision gave instructions to say the rosary every day “to bring peace to the world and the end of the war” (i.e., World War I).
It is a fact that one of the main purposes of the rosary is to honor Mary (see Rosarium Virginis Mariae, an apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II). When praying the rosary, the prayers directed to Mary far outnumber any other prayers recited. So why promote the rosary if Jesus is supposed to be the center of attention? To make matters worse, the rosary has some other serious problems. It is not a Christian concept at all -- not only is it unbiblical, it also has connections with paganism and (worse yet) the occult. See this article:
Third, she told them that God wished there to be devotion to her Immaculate Heart for world peace and for the salvation of souls.
Devotion to “her Immaculate Heart”? What exactly is that, anyway? There is no reason to think that the heart of anyone (other than Jesus Christ) is “immaculate,” since we have all sinned (1 John 1:8-10). Of course, we know that the Catholic Church teaches that Mary was sinless, so those interested might want to see this article, as well:
Anyway, why would devotion to HER bring about world peace and salvation? The real Mary would never request something like this. Isn’t Jesus the Prince of Peace? (Isaiah 9:6) Isn’t it Jesus Who is our Salvation? (Hebrews 5:9) Furthermore, there will never be world peace until Jesus Christ, Himself, returns to this sin-sick world. Mary won’t bring it, nor will anyone else.
Fourthly, the lady in the vision also requested that people pray that Russia would be consecrated to “her Immaculate Heart.”
But Russia, as a whole, will most likely never be converted before Christ returns, since they will be one of the main countries attacking Israel in the end times (Ezekiel 38, 39). Remember, Israel’s enemies are cursed (Genesis 12:3). And again, even if there is a chance of their conversion, why should anyone consecrate them (or any country) to Mary, rather than consecrate them to Jesus? The “lady” in this vision seems to be hungry for attention. But this distracts from attention to the Savior.
Fifth, she asked that a chapel be built there in her honor. Why does the woman in this vision keep pointing to herself? Even the Holy Spirit does not point to Himself, but to Jesus! (John 16:13) But the focus of this woman’s message is certainly not on Jesus. Once again, the real Mary would not make such a request. The real Mary was there near her Son at the foot of the cross (John 19:25). She saw His tremendous suffering firsthand. It would be utterly selfish to request anything in her honor after witnessing that event. The Mary of the Bible would agree with John the baptist and say, “He [Jesus] must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Sixth, in one of the visions, the lady “ascended into the Heavens and the three children were given a vision of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus and blessing the world…” (Emphasis added)
Why in the world would Jesus be depicted as a “child” here, when He is no longer a child and when His greatest work was done as an adult on the cross? Once again, this is a subtle substitution, in a deliberate attempt to rob Jesus of His rightful glory. In visions like this, Jesus is subtly minimized while Mary is being continually exalted.
Seventh, in one of the visions the woman said:
“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted and a period of peace will be granted to the world. ONLY I CAN HELP YOU. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God." (Emphasis added)
What blasphemy! Only SHE can help??? (Psalm 30:10; 40:17; 70:5) SHE is our refuge??? (Psalm 94:22; 91:2, 9; 9:9) SHE is the one to lead us to God??? (John 14:6) What’s wrong with this picture? Can Catholics not see the problem with this kind of language? Of course, some Catholics will attempt to split hairs on possible meanings of her statement here and try to explain this away. But, my friends, there appear to be no deep theological concepts here. She is speaking plainly here because she is speaking to children! Once again, Jesus is demoted, while the “Mary” in this vision is progressively replacing Him.
But Are They Approved by the Church?
Ok, so hopefully, now it is obvious that there are problems with the visions of Fatima. They are unbiblical and questionable at best, and blasphemous at worst. In light of this, would the Catholic Church approve of such visions?
There is some debate among Catholics as to whether they are obligated to believe and obey the visions of Fatima or not. Catholics may not be forced to believe them, but they are certainly encouraged to.
But the evidence points to the Church’s approval of them…
· According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia:
“The bishop of Leiria (Oct. 13, 1930) pronounced the 1917 visions at Cova da Iria worthy of credence and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Fatima.”
· The two youngest of the children (who both died shortly after the visions) were “beatified” in the year 2000. Beatification is the step prior to canonization (becoming a saint). This seems to suggest that the Catholic Church considers the “miracle” at Fatima to be legitimate and possibly even the basis for their beatification.
· The visions of Fatima were clearly approved by at least six of the eight popes who reigned since the visions in Fatima began in 1917 (including John Paul II and Benedict XVI), according to this website:
· According to an official Vatican document titled “The Message of Fatima,” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it is stated that Fatima is one of those events that is approved by the Church:
What About the Miracle?
Ok, so doesn’t the “miracle of the dancing sun” at Fatima prove that the visions were authentic, that they were indeed from God?
As we stated earlier, the true source of a vision can be determined by its message. The Bible tells us to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), so if the message (of any vision) does not line up or agree with Scripture, it should not be accepted. You cannot depend on a “miracle” that confirms an unbiblical teaching. The visions of Fatima are a deception of the enemy. They were not the real mother of Jesus, the humble handmaid that we find in the Bible, but this was the work of demonic forces specifically designed to “look like Mary,” but sent to deceive the multitudes.
Remember the sorcerers in Exodus 7:11, who copied Aaron's miracle by turning a rod into a serpent? Should we believe that these magicians were also approved by God just because they showed “signs and wonders”? It seems they MUST have been from God, since they were able to duplicate Aaron’s miracle, right? No, they were sent to deceive the people. We know the sorcerers were not from God because their “message” (i.e., what they stood for) was not from God.
Also, the “prophet” in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 found himself in trouble (even though he was exhibiting “signs and wonders”) because his message did not line up with God’s commandments. The enemy can (to some extent, at least) duplicate / counterfeit miracles to deceive God's people. The Bible speaks of lying signs and wonders in the last days (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Revelation 13:11-17; 16:13-14) in order to deceive many. We have the same thing happening at Fatima and, unfortunately, it is working well. So many Catholics have fallen for it.
Fatima is just one example of “Mary” overshadowing Jesus, and there are probably countless others. For example, there are places in the Catholic Church in which we find Mary on the cross! It is reported that in the Church of the Mother of God of Polish Martyrs (located in Warsaw, Poland) there is a painting of Mary hanging on the cross while holding Jesus as a child. It is also reported that in Rome, just outside the basilica called “Santa Maria Maggiore,” there is a crucifix with both Jesus and Mary hanging on it, one on either side.
On May 31, 2008, an “iconic monstrance” (sort of a statue which holds the Catholic Eucharist) was unveiled at Saint Stanislaus Kostka church in Chicago, Illinois. It is called the “Our Lady of the Sign, Ark of Mercy.” This monstrance depicts Mary seated between the cherubim (angels) on the Ark of the Covenant. But that space is reserved FOR GOD ALONE! (Numbers 7:89; Exodus 25:22; 2 Samuel 6:2) In the Old Testament, God’s very presence was there on the mercy seat between the two cherubim. Interestingly, this is exactly where the antichrist will seat himself to declare that he is “above all that is called God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15) This “work of art,” this Catholic monstrance, is utterly blasphemous.
It is exactly this type of environment that breeds the “excessive devotion” we find so often in Catholicism. And a big part of the problem is that (apparently) the leaders of the Church not only allow it to continue freely without correction, but they even encourage it.
My Catholic friends, please don’t allow yourself to be deceived. Don’t let the emotion surrounding these visions override the simple truth of God’s Word. The bottom line is that Fatima can only offer us a false message with false signs and wonders.
"And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14 - NASV)