Our Lady of Fatima and the Errors of Russia

May is the month devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, so I’m doing a post each Monday in May about the Blessed Virgin. I want to share something Archbishop Sheen wrote in his 1948 book, Communism and the Conscience of the West. It’s just as relevant today as it was then. In fact, it’s downright prophetic. Here, then is part one of a short series on Our Lady of Fatima and Russia. (You can read part two here.)

Related: Our Lady of Fatima, a video of a talk by Ven Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, wherein he talks about some of the same things he wrote about in the book.

All material in the section below is quoted from the book, Communism and the Conscience of the West, by Fulton J. Sheen. I’m quoting from a first and out-of-print edition.


If there is any particular year in which we might say the modern world began—and by the modern world we mean in contra-distinction to the Christian world—it would be about the year 1858. In that particular year John Stuart Mill wrote his Essay on Liberty, in which liberty was identified with license and absence from social responsibility; in that year Darwin had completed his Origin of the Species, in which he took man’s perspective away from eternal purpose, and made him look back to the animal past. In the year 1858 Karl Marx, founder of communism, wrote his introduction to the Critique of Political Economy in which he enthroned economics as the basis of life and culture. From these men have come the ideas which have dominated the world for almost a century—namely, that man is not divine but animal in his origin; his freedom is license and escape from authority and law; devoid of spirit, he is an integral part of the matter of the cosmos, and therefore has no need of religion.

If there is any particular year in which we might say the modern world began—and by the modern world we mean in contra-distinction to the Christian world—it would be about the year 1858.

In that same important year of 1858, on the eleventh day of February, at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains in France, in the tiny village of Lourdes, the Blessed Virgin began the first of 18 appearances to a little peasant girl whose family name was Soubirous. She is now known as Saint Bernadette.

Four years after the Church had defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, the heavens opened and the Lady, so beautiful, said Bernadette, that she could not possibly be of earth, spoke to Bernadette saying: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The very moment the world was denying original sin and, without knowing it, saying that every person in the world was immaculately conceived, Our Blessed Mother claimed the prerogative solely as her own: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” She did not say, “I have been immaculately conceived.” There was somewhat an analogous identification between herself and the Immaculate Conception that God had made from Mount Sinai when He said, “I am Who am.” As it is of the very nature of God to exist, so too it is analogously the very nature of the Blessed Virgin to be the Immaculate Conception. If she alone and uniquely was Immaculately conceived, then everyone else was born in the state of original sin ; if there is no original sin, then everyone is immaculately conceived. Claiming the privilege as her own was a contradiction to every idea that the de-Christianized world was then beginning to spawn. To those who believe man belongs solely to earth, heaven protests as the Mother calls men to become as pilgrims to her shrine in testi- mony to the spirit; to those who reduce man to an animal, and the animal to nature, the Beautiful Lady summons men to rise above the animal to their supreme vocation in her Divine Son; to those who degenerate freedom into license, the eternal re-affirms that the Divine Truth alone makes us free with the glorious freedom of the children of God ; those who say religion is the opium of the people, she comes to arouse from the opiate of the lie to the glorious possibility of man becoming an heir of heaven.

The very moment the world was denying original sin and, without knowing it, saying that every person in the world was immaculately conceived, Our Blessed Mother claimed the prerogative solely as her own: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” She did not say, “I have been immaculately conceived.”

But the world heeded not the heavenly recall to the spirit. The pagan ideas of 1858, that man is an animal, that freedom is isolation from law, that religion is antihuman, soon crept out of the covers of a textbook and the four walls of a classroom and finally became the violence of World War I, 1914-1918. This was the flowering into action of the false ideas of 1858. The secular word became flesh as war. To concentrate on but one year of this World War, the year 1917 would seem to be the most significant because of events in three places of the world. On May 13 of that year Benedict XV imposed hands on Mon- signor Eugenio Pacelli making him a successor of the Apostles. As the bells of Rome were ringing out the midday Angélus, a new Bishop had been given to the Church who would one day by the hidden designs of Providence ascend the throne of Peter and govern the Universal Church as our Holy Father, Pius XII.

In Russia on May 13, 1917, Maria Alexandrovna was teach- ing catechism in one of the churches of Moscow. She had 200 children before her in the pews. There was a loud noise at the front door; horsemen entered, charged down the middle aisle of the great church, vaulted the Communion rail, destroyed the altar, then rode down the side aisles destroying the statues and finally charged the children, killing some of them. Maria Alexandrovna ran out of the church screaming. It was the first of those sporadic outbursts that foretold the coming Commu- nist Revolution. She went to one of the revolutionists who was later to become famous, and when she screamed at him, “The most terrible thing has just happened. I was teaching catechism in the church when men rode in on horses, destroyed the church, trampled the children and killed some of them,” Lenin, the revolutionist, answered, “I know it, I sent them.”

In Portugal, on May 13, 1917, three children from the parish of Fatima, Jacinca, Francis and Lucy were attending their flock when the Ángelus bell rang from the steeple of the parish church. The three little shepherds knelt down and as was their daily custom recited the Rosary together. When they finished it, they decided to build “a little house” which might shelter them on stormy days. But these little architects were suddenly interrupted by a blinding flash of lightning, and they looked anxiously at the sky. Not a single cloud veiled the brilliance of the midday sun. Frightened, they started to run when, just two paces ahead in the midst of the foliage of an evergreen oak, they saw a “beautiful lady,” more resplendent than the sun. With a gesture of motherly kindness the lady said to them: “Fear not, I shall do you no harm.” The lady was very beautiful; she seemed to be from 15 to 18 years of age. Her dress, white as snow and tied at the neck by a gold cord, reached down to her feet which were just visible, barely touching the branches of the tree. A white veil embroidered with gold covered her head and shoulders, falling to her feet like the dress. Her hands were joined at the height of her breast in an attitude of prayer; a rosary of brilliant pearls with a silver cross hung from her right hand. Her face of incomparable beauty shone in a halo as bright as the sun, but seemed to be veiled by a slight look of sorrow.

Lucy was the first to speak: “Where do you come from?”

“I come from Heaven,” replied the lady.

“From Heaven! And why have you come here?” Lucy asked. 

“I have come to ask you to be here on the thirteenth day of each month at this hour for six months in succession. In the month of October I shall tell you who I am and what I want.” 

Just at that very moment, when in the eastern end of Europe Antichrist was unloosed against the very idea of God and against society in one of the most terrible bloodlettings of history, there appeared in splendor at the western extremity of Europe, that great and eternal enemy of the infernal serpent.

Of the six appearances of the Blessed Mother to those chil- dren, the most important was the apparition of July 13, 1917. It must be recalled that this was the third year of World War I and speaking of it she said: “This war is going to end. If people do what I have told you many souls will be saved and will find peace.”

Just at that very moment, when in the eastern end of Europe Antichrist was unloosed against the very idea of God and against society in one of the most terrible bloodlettings of history, there appeared in splendor at the western extremity of Europe, that great and eternal enemy of the infernal serpent.

“But,” she added: “if people do not cease to offend God, not much time will elapse and precisely during the next Pontificate another and more terrible war will commence.” As a matter of fact it was during the Pontificate of Pius XI that the terrible Spanish War took place, which was a prelude to World War II. During that time the Reds in their hatred of religion massacred cruelly 13 prelates, 14,000 priests and religious, and destroyed 22,000 churches and chapels.

The Blessed Mother then gave a sign as to when World War II would actually begin. “When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the signal which God gives you that the chastisement of the world for its many transgressions is at hand, through war, famine and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.”

Later on, Lucy was asked when the sign actually appeared, and she said it was the very extraordinary aurora borealis which lighted up a great part of Europe on the night of January 25-26, 1938. Speaking of the war to come Lucy said: “It will be horrible, horrible.” All the chastisements of God are conditional and they can be averted by penance. The Blessed Mother, it is to be noted, said that World War II could be avoided, for she added: “To avoid this, I shall ask for the Consecration of the World to my Immaculate Heart, and Communion in reparation of the first Saturday of each month. If my requests are granted Russia will be converted; there will be peace. Otherwise Russia will spread its error throughout the world giving rise to wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will suffer martyrdom, and the Holy Father will have to suffer much. Different nations will be destroyed.”

At this point the Church has seen fit not to give us a part of that message. What that particular message was we do not know. It apparently is not good news, and it also would seem to refer to our times. In any case, we are given the conclusion of the message with hope and joy: “But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart, and Russia will be converted and an era of peace will be given to the world.”

The final revelation took place on the thirteenth day of October, 1917, when the Blessed Mother promised to work a miracle that all present might believe in Her apparitions. On the evening of October 12, all the roads to Fatima were packed with carriages, bicycles and pilgrims on their way to the apparition. The witnesses were a crowd of 60,000 which had gathered by the noon of the thirteenth, many of whom were unbelievers and scoffers.

We are not here concerned about proving the authenticity of these phenomena at Fatima, for those who believe in the realm of the spirit and the Mother of God need no proof, and those who reject the Spirit would not accept it anyway. What significance shall we attach to the apparent fall of the sun attested by the people at Fatima on that October day in 1917? W e have no way of knowing for certain, but since its general effect was so frightening, we may speculate.

End of Quoted Material


Thank you for visiting and reading. Join me again next week for part two of Our Lady of Fatima and the Errors of Russia. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+

Images: Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the children beginning in May of 1917.

Part 1, Part 2

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