I came in touch with Our Lady of Fatima when I was around sixteen years old. At the time, the crowned statue of the Virgin of Fatima was taken across Italy. The statue arrived in Enna by helicopter and was then taken to the monastery of Montesalvo, where it remained for a few hours. I followed the statue all the way to the playground where the helicopter had landed and then took off.

The following day at school, I talked about Our Lady of Fatima with my schoolmates, who didn’t seem as enthusiastic as me about the coming of the statue.

Have you ever heard about the three secrets of Fatima?” asked Carlo, one of my schoolmates.

He was a priest’s nephew. His uncle, besides being a priest, was also a teacher of Latin at our school.

No, I haven’t. I don’t even know about Our Lady of Fatima,” I answered.

Okay, I’ll tell you what happened on May 13, 1917. That day, Our Lady appeared to three children, named Lucia, Francisco, and Giacinta, in a place called Cova da Iria, and asked them to come to the same place on the thirteenth of each month for five consecutive months at the same time.

The civil and religious authorities didn’t believe the three young shepherds, and Lucia’s mother accused her of lying. On August thirteenth, the three children were arrested and forced to confess that they hadn’t told the truth, but they were unshakable and kept their side of the story. The children couldn’t go to Cova de Iria that day because they were in prison, but Our Lady appeared again to them on August nineteenth, and this time she promised that on October thirteenth, which would be the day of the last apparition, she would give them evidence of the authenticity of the apparition so that everybody would believe them.

On the appointed day, people from all over Portugal came to Cova de Iria to be present at the miraculous event that had been predicted by Our Lady. There were believers and nonbelievers there, as well as civil and religious authorities and many anticlerical journalists.

It was a rainy day. After noon it stopped raining and a cloud enveloped the three children. Our Lady asked Lucia to build a chapel in that place, and announced that the war would be over soon. Then the miracle happened. The sun started twirling in the sky. It was visible to the naked eye. It suddenly seemed that it was falling down toward the crowd. Then it halted before going up again in the sky.”

I listened to Carlo with my mouth wide open. I was really mesmerized by his account, but my mind was turned to the secrets.

“What about the secrets?” I asked.

Oh, they are terrible! You should know that the third secret of Fatima has not been revealed yet. It was given to the Pope by one of the three children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared. In fact, of the three young shepherds, two died very young while the third, Lucia, is still living.”

Do you know the contents of the first two secrets?” I asked.

Yes. In the first secret, Lucia, Giacinta, and Francisco were shown hell. In the second secret, Our Lady said that after the First World War, another would burst forth that would be worse. Furthermore, she said that someday Russia would be converted and the world would enjoy a time of peace.”

Does your uncle the priest know anything about the third secret?” I asked.

No, he doesn’t. Nobody knows the third secret except the Pope. In my opinion,” said Carlo, “there must be something catastrophic in the message. Otherwise, the Pope would have revealed it. Maybe the message talks about the end of the world.”

At Carlo’s words, a shudder of fear ran throughout my body as I linked the end of the world to the end of my life.

More than fifty years had gone by since my conversation with Carlo. Meanwhile, the third secret, which had been kept in the Vatican archives for fifty-six years, was revealed by Pope John Paul II, who said that the secret was related to him.

The text of the third secret was also reported in our local newspaper on June 27, 2000. I read the article, cut it out, and put it into the drawer of my bedside table, where still I keep it.

The article tells the secret and contains a theological comment by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later would become Pope.

Not one catastrophic prediction was contained in the third secret. The real meaning of the message, according to Vatican, is that one can change his or her destiny through prayer and penance.

I had believed that every human being has his or her destiny already assigned and cannot do anything to change it. Now the third secret of Fatima had turned my way of thinking upside down. On the other hand, it is unthinkable that God, who is the giver of life and the creator of all things, is not able to change destiny.

Here is the unabridged text of the third secret:

After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’ And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father.’ Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.

Tuy, January 3, 1944

My wife and I were flying from Rome to Lisbon when I told her, who is not a believer, what happened on May 13,1981, at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.

It was a peaceful afternoon at Saint Peter’s Square when Pope John Paul II was passing through the crowd. Suddenly a Turkish man, who was a professional killer, fired two bullets

at the Pope. The Pope was taken to the hospital unconscious and was about to die, while the attempted assassin tried to run away, but was blocked by a nun named Sister Lucia. Don’t you think that these are singular coincidences?”

What coincidences?” asked my wife.

The first coincidence is the date of the event. Both the first apparition to the shepherd children and the attempt on the Pope’s life happened on the same day, May thirteenth. Furthermore, the person that caught the killer was called Lucia, like the young shepherdess of Fatima.”

Yes, they are astonishing coincidences. Did the Pope survive?”

Yes, he survived, and he had no doubt that it had been Our Lady who had deflected the bullets, which otherwise would have been fatal. The Pope was bound to die, and the prophecy contained in the third secret of Fatima would have been carried out if not for the intercession of the Virgin Mary. Hence, the future and prophecies can be changed if it is God’s will.”

We landed at the airport in Lisbon and remained in the city for a few days before going to Fatima. While in Portugal, we visited Cabo da Roca, which is the extreme western tip of Europe. It is the place where the land ends and the ocean begins. Watching the immense ocean from the top of the headland, I revived the dreams of the great navigators of the past who had left the safety of the land to sail the unknown. Seen from an altitude of 140 meters above sea level, the ocean gave me a sense of immensity and infinity. It was like watching the firmament from above rather than from below.

We arrived at Fatima in the early afternoon and found accommodations in a very good hotel near the sanctuary. A few steps further was a square wider than I had ever seen, and at the opposite end was the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima. What impressed me was the view of the tombs of the three shepherd children; two were close to each other, while Francisco’s was detached. Near the sanctuary is a museum where the crown of Our Lady is kept. Set in the crown is the bullet that had crossed Pope John Paul II’s body without damaging vital organs. Not far from the square there was a small train that took tourists to the houses where the three children had lived and the hillock where the angel had appeared to them.

We left Fatima bound for another holy place called Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by ETTORE GRILLO

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind


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