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As if to demonstrate the efficacy of the Consecration the Virgin had requested, God saw fit to allow a demonstration project, as it were, in Portugal. On May 13, 1931—the anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima—and in the presence of 300,000 faithful who came to Fatima for the event, the bishops of Portugal solemnly consecrated their nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In doing so, they gave witness to the authenticity of the Fatima Message and its call for the Consecration of Russia.
These good bishops placed Portugal under the protection of Our Lady to preserve that nation from the communist contagion that was sweeping through Europe, and especially Spain. The world knows well of the genocide of tens of millions by Lenin and Stalin in Russia and Eastern Europe and later by Mao in China. What is less well known is that communist revolutionaries in Spain had been responsible for the slaughter of thousands of priests, brothers, nuns and laity during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), during which they sought to wipe out all Catholic resistance to Spain’s amoral secular government. The Catholic forces ultimately prevailed, and Pope John Paul II has since beatified 233 of these martyrs.
By 1931 the Virgin’s prophecy of the spread of Russia’s errors throughout the world was already being fulfilled with relentless exactitude. As a result of the Consecration to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart that year, Portugal experienced a threefold miracle: a magnificent Catholic Renaissance, a political and social reform in accordance with Catholic social principles, and protection from the ravages of Communism and war.
There was a great rebirth of Catholic life so striking that those who lived through it attributed it unquestionably to the work of God. During this period, Portugal enjoyed a drastic upsurge in priestly vocations. The number of religious almost quadrupled in 10 years. Religious communities rose likewise. There was a vast renewal of Christian life, which showed itself in many areas, including the development of a Catholic press, Catholic radio, pilgrimages, spiritual retreats, and a robust movement of Catholic Action that was integrated into the framework of diocesan and parish life.
This Catholic Renaissance was of such magnitude that in 1942 the bishops of Portugal declared in a pastoral letter: “Anybody who would have closed his eyes twenty-five years ago and opened them now would no longer recognize Portugal, so vast is the transformation worked by the modest and invisible factor of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima. Really, Our Lady wishes to save Portugal.
Shortly after the 1931 Consecration, Antonio Salazar ascended to power in Portugal and inaugurated a Catholic, counter-revolutionary program. He strove to create a Catholic social order in which the laws of government and social institutions were harmonized with the law of Christ, His Gospel and His Church. Salazar was a fierce adversary of any law or social program that “diminishes or dissolves the family and the teaching of the Church defending the family.”
President Salazar did not merely engage in empty propaganda. He enacted legislation to protect the family, including laws that banned divorce for marriages celebrated in the Church. Remarkably, the number of Catholic marriages actually increased after this law was passed. By 1960, Salazar had succeeded in almost completely reversing the destruction of the institution of marriage in Portugal, which had almost been achieved by liberal divorce laws previously enacted in accordance with a Masonic conception of the secular social order. As of 1960, near 91 percent of all marriages in the country were Catholic canonical marriages—a stunning achievement that no one could have expected without divine intervention.
In addition to these astonishing religious and political changes, there was a twofold miracle of peace: Portugal was preserved from the Communist terror, especially from the Spanish Civil War, raging next door, and from the devastation of World War II.
The Portuguese bishops had vowed in 1936 that if Our Lady protected Portugal from the effects of the Spanish Civil War, they would express their gratitude by renewing the national Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. True to their word, on May 13, 1938, they renewed the Consecration of Portugal to the Immaculate Heart in thanksgiving for Our Lady’s protection. Cardinal Cerejeira acknowledged publicly: “Since Our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917 ... A special blessing of God has descended upon the land of Portugal ... especially if we review the two years which have gone since our vow, one cannot fail to recognize that the invisible hand of God has protected Portugal, sparing it the scourge of war and the leprosy of atheistic Communism.”
Even Pope Pius XII expressed astonishment that Portugal had escaped the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and the Communist menace in general. In an address to the Portuguese people, the Pope spoke of “the Red Peril, so menacing and so close to you [in Spain], and yet avoided in such an unexpected manner.” Few Catholics know that even in Spain itself one diocese, the Diocese of Seville, was preserved from the devastation of the War. Why? Because the Archbishop of Seville had consecrated his diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There was not one violent death as a result of the Spanish Civil War in any part of this diocese, even though the War claimed 1.5 million lives throughout the rest of Spain.
After escaping the menace of Communism from Spain, a second, even greater danger stared Portugal in the face. World War II was about to break out. In yet another fulfillment of the Virgin’s prophecy of July 13, 1917, the war would begin “in the reign of Pius XI,” following “a night illumined by an unknown light ...”
On February 6, 1939, seven months before the declaration of war, Sister Lucy wrote to her bishop, Msgr. da Silva. She told him that war was imminent, but then spoke of a miraculous promise. She said “in this horrible war, Portugal would be spared because of the national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary made by the bishops.” And Portugal was spared the horrors of the war.
Even more remarkable, Sister Lucy wrote to Pope Pius XII on December 2, 1940, to tell him that Portugal was receiving special protection during the war that other nations would also have received if their bishops would have consecrated their countries to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She wrote: “Most Holy Father, Our Lord promises a special protection to our country in this war, due to the consecration of the nation, by the Portuguese prelates, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; as proof of the graces that would have been granted to other nations, had they also consecrated themselves to Her.
Likewise, Portugal’s Cardinal Cerejeira did not hesitate to attribute to Our Lady of Fatima the great graces that She had obtained for Portugal during this time. On May 13, 1942 he said: “To express what has been going on here for twenty-five years, the Portuguese vocabulary has but one word: miracle. Yes, we are firmly convinced that we owe the wonderful transformation of Portugal to the protection of the Most Holy Virgin.”
Cardinal Cerejeira maintained that the miraculous blessings Our Lady obtained for Portugal as a heavenly reward for the 1931 and 1938 consecrations of that nation are only a foretaste of what She will do for the entire world, once Russia is also properly consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart. As the Cardinal said: “What has taken place in Portugal proclaims the miracle. And it foreshadows what the Immaculate Heart of Mary has prepared for the world.
It is not hard to understand why Portugal at this time was called the “Showcase of Our Lady.” The triple miracle of Portugal is but a preview of how the Consecration of Russia done in a solemn public ceremony conducted by the Pope and all the Catholic bishops of the world will affect Russia and the world. The miraculous example of Portugal is also helpful to us in judging the present. If we contrast the threefold miracle of Portugal after it was consecrated with the present condition of Russia and the world, it is obvious that the Consecration of Russia has yet to be achieved.
The Mother of God Herself has promised us that the entire world will become Our Lady’s Showcase once Russia is consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart: “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
The remaining question is stark: Will this Triumph of the Immaculate Heart “in the end” come before or after the loss of countless souls and the annihilation of various nations, which Our Lady made clear are the consequences for delaying for too long in carrying out Her requests? The answer to that question may well depend upon whether a Fatima Movement of Priests can succeed in securing the Church’s obedience to the Fatima Message.Continue Reading