My Favorite Movie
Fatima the 13th Day:The light in the dark that will lead to peace
Pit M. Maliksi (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Fatima the 13th Day is my all-time-favorite movie for Lent on miracle which is true and not just a figment of imagination.

The story starts at the Convent of Pontevedra, Spain in 1937 with a narration from Lucia, the eldest of the three children- with whom the Blessed Virgin appeared in Fatima in 1917 — a time of war and revolution. A time when the Bolcheviques in Russia were preparing to seize power, declaring the Church as enemy of the people, spreading like poison in the hearts of men. It was the time in Portugal when monarchy had been overthrown by a republican government with an intention to eliminate all religions.

But for the three chosen children of heaven — Lucia, a 10-year-old girl, and her cousins Jacinta and her brother Francisco — they felt fortunate to live peacefully in Fatima, where they just pastured a flock of sheep everyday. Francisco was a gentle boy, never protesting, quiet and sensitive like his thoughtful, compassionate father, while Jacinta liked to be the center of attention, a sulky child, yet dancing would indulge her and make her happy.

On the 13th day of May 1917, even as it seemed the storm was brewing, they felt the world was holding its breath as the sky brightened up, until they saw a lady appear from the clouds more brilliant than the sun.

“She spoke to the three of us, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am from Heaven.’ I could feel her love like a wave. She asked if we were willing to suffer for God, as our suffering would save so many sins, and we said yes. She asked us to return at the same time every 13th day of the month for six months,” Lucia related. As they agreed upon themselves that they should not spread what they saw to everyone, Jacinta was so overcome not to tell it to her family.

Lucias’ mother accused her of blasphemy and turned her over to their parish priest Father Ferreira.

When Father Ferreira didn’t believe her revelations, her dreams became filled with doubts and fears and her days with tortures as people turned against them. But on the day the lady said she would return, she felt herself drawn to the Cove like a moth to a flame. “She was so beautiful, so good, I have to return and see her face again, feel her love in us,” Lucia said.

On the second apparition, “The lady told us to pray the rosary for peace, and that I must learn to read and write for I would make her message to the world. From that day on, more and more people came to the Cova with renewed faith that has not surfaced before, as they enshrined the Cova as a beacon of hope to be seen by all,” she added.

The July 13th apparition was different. Lucia wrote in her narrative: “This time there’s sadness about her. Once she opened her hand, it was not a walk to Heaven that embraced us, but the fires of hell, then she showed us a city hacked in roads and said that if the people do not turn to God, He will punish the world with a second world war within the next generation. To prevent this, she would come back to ask the Pope to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. If they would not still act on this request, godless men will spread Communism throughout the world causing war, famine and persecution of the Church.

“The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer. Above us, we saw an angel shouting Penance! Penance! Penance! And said the world will set on fire, but the flames will only stop by the splendor that our Lady radiated towards men and said in the end, the Immaculate Heart will triumph and the period of peace will be granted to the world.”

As the apparition gained ground and more followers, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco were picked up by the authority of Ourem government and put them in jail with the three male prisoners, whom they had converted to pray the rosary with them. The warden threatened them to be dipped in the cauldron of boiling oil but all the three of them opted to die rather than reveal the secret of the Lady, until they couldn’t believe they would be freed in time for the Lady’s Oct. 13 apparition.

“Of all the things she said that day, what impressed me most deeply was her tender sorrow. She said that we must turn to God for He is already so much offended. As she spoke gently with so much pain, I wanted to spread her words throughout the whole world. When Francisco asked if he would go to Heaven, she told me she would take Jacinta and Francisco very soon but I would have to stay and told me not to be afraid for she would be with me always. When I asked our Lady if she could perform a miracle for the people to believe, she nodded. As it was reported, there were 70,000 people who saw the sun danced and my whole world changed forever,” Lucia concluded.

The sinners and converts knelt and asked for God’s forgiveness. An old blind woman who was blessed to see cried — “My God, how great is your power!”

It was not long for Heaven to keep its promise for Francisco and Jacinta. Francisco took his flight to Heaven on April 4, 1919 while Jacinta joined him a year later on Feb. 20, 1920. Fifteen years after Jacinta’s death, her body was exhumed and it was found to be incorrupted.

Lucia left Fatima for Porto and stayed in a school run by the Sisters of St. Dorothy and later became a sister before choosing a life of seclusion and solitude as a Carmelite nun. Lucia passed away on Feb. 13, 2005. The day of her funeral was declared a day of national mourning in Portugal. The site where the apparitions took place is one of the largest Marian Shrines in the world today, visited by over four million pilgrims each year.

As we experience the unshaken-spiritual sacrifice of the three persecuted children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, let’s be like the 70,000 eyewitnesses of the Oct. 13, 1917 miracle of the dancing sun in Portugal, who feel the same how “the light of Heaven pierced the heart and filled the soul” of Lucia — with whom the Blessed Virgin Mary attributed to spread her words — that we all pray and turn to God. Lucia hopes for the world to stand for the meaning of the word Fatima: “The light in the dark that will lead to peace.”

(The author took Library Science at the University of Santo Tomas and taught at Central Texas College. He was also an English teacher at Liceo de San Pablo, the Most Outstanding Professor for 12 years of PUP, Santo Tomas, Batangas STB, the educational program officer of STB Kiwanis International, and founder of Philippine Axiologists Association and STB Mga Apo’ Ni Tomas, a civic society of young professionals.)

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