Muhammad, the founder of Islam, had a daughter named Fatima. When she died at age 29 in the early 7th Century it is reported that her father said, in grief, “She has the highest place in heaven after the Virgin Mary.” Muhammad did not mourn too long however. In the subsequent years his religion spread across the Middle East, Africa, and into Europe. In 711, the Crescent crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and a small town named Salatia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, was conquered. In the 12th Century the Christians organized themselves and reconquered Spain and Portugal, including this small town. During the reconquista, the Muslim princess of Salatia, named Fatima, was captured. Falling in love with the Spanish Count of Ourem, Fatima converted to Catholicism. Like Muhammad's daughter, Fatima died prematurely and her hometown, reclaimed for Catholicism, was renamed in her honor.

The name of that Portuguese town would remain in obscurity for hundreds of years, breaking out of the clouds, quite literally, on May 13, 1917. Three shepherd children, ages 7,9, and 10, were tending the family sheep out in the fields, hidden from sight in the Cove of Irene. Three bright flashes of light appeared suddenly, in the middle of the clear blue sky. A woman appeared, “clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water, lit by burning sunlight.” This is how one of the children, Lucia dos Santos, described it.

Mary appeared six more times to the children at Fatima, the last apparition occurring on October 13, 1917 when, before 70,000 people, the sun literally spun and zigzagged in the sky.

The main lesson from Fatima is that the path to victory is not the sword, but a heart, like Mary's, open to the will of God.

back to top