GROWING SUPPORT FROM THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY
During the five years which followed the apparitions, the ecclesiastical authorities maintained their prudent reserve.
On May 3, 1922, two years after the restoration of the diocese of Leiria, Dom Jose Alves Correia published a pastoral letter from which we extract the following passages:
In this diocese of Leiria, there can be no fact connected with our holy religion to which our pastoral action is, or could be, indifferent.
Practically every day, but more especially on the 13th of each month, great numbers of people go to Fatima. These people are drawn from every social category, and they go there to thank Our Lady of the Rosary for the benefits they have received through her mediation. It is well known that in 1917 a series of phenomena occurred there, witnessed by thousands of people of all kinds and foretold by some unlettered children to whom, it was affirmed, our Lady had appeared and made certain recommendations. From that time there has never ceased to be a flow of pilgrims to the place.
Of the three children who said they were favoured by the apparitions, two died before our appointment to this diocese. We have questioned the remaining seer several times.
Her story and her replies are always simple and sincere. In them we can find nothing contrary to faith or morals. We ask, could this child, now 14 years old, exercise an influence which could explain such a continuous concourse of people? Could her personal prestige alone draw such multitudes of human beings? Could any precocious qualities in her attract vast crowds to herself alone? It is most improbable that such could be the case, since we are dealing with a child of most rudimentary education, and without instruction of any kind.
Moreover this child has now left her native place, and has not been seen there again, yet the people go in ever-increasing numbers to the Cova da Iria.
Could one explain it perhaps by the natural beauty or picturesqueness of the place? On the contrary, it is a lonely and deserted spot, without trees or water, far from the railway, almost lost in the serra, and destitute of scenic beauties.
Do the people go there because of the chapel perhaps? The faithful have constructed a tiny cell, so small that it is impossible to celebrate Holy Mass inside, and in the month of February of this year some unfortunate people – may our Lady forgive them – destroyed the chapel with explosives during the night, and set fire to it.
We have advised against its reconstruction for the moment, not only with the idea of further attacks in mind, but also to test the motives which draw so many people to the place.
And yet, far from diminishing in numbers, the crowds are ever greater.
The ecclesiastical authority has delayed its decision, and the clergy have abstained from taking part in any manifestation. Only lately have we permitted low Mass to be celebrated, and sermons to be given on the occasions of the great popular pilgrimages.
The civil authorities have employed every means in their power, not excluding persecution, imprisonment, and threats of all kinds, to stop the religious movement in the place. But all their efforts were in vain, and no one can say that the Church authorities have in any way encouraged faith in the apparitions; the exact contrary is the case.
In answer to the demand implied in this letter, the bishop nominated a commission to study the case and set up the canonical inquiry, among whose members were Dr Formigao and Dr Marques dos Santos.
In October, 1926, the diocese of Leiria commemorated the seventh centenary of Saint Francis of Assisi. The apostolic nuncio, who was present at the ceremonies, visited Batalha, and later the place of the apparitions, in company with the bishop. The first impressions of Monsignor Nicotra, communicated to the Holy See, are not on record, but what is certain is that three months later, on January 21, 1927, the privilege of a votive Mass was conceded to Fatima.
On the 26th of July of the same year, ten years, that is, after the apparitions, the bishop presided for the first time at an official ceremony in the Cova da Iria, after the erection of the Stations of the Cross on the road from Leiria to Fatima.
Before the visit of the nuncio, two prelates had visited the Cova da Iria, among them the archbishop of Evora and the primate of Braga. Later came all the bishops of the mother country and her islands and colonies, among them the bishop of Portalegre, who was the first to allow our Lady to be invoked under her new title in his diocese. When in Rome he had verified the fact that Our Lady of Fatima was venerated there, and that the Holy Father had distributed holy pictures of her to the students of the Portuguese College. He returned full of zeal for our Lady’s new apparitions in his country, and said: “I must not be less Catholic than the Pope!” He thereupon organised an imposing pilgrimage, and was the first bishop to celebrate Pontifical High Mass in the Cova da Iria. So time passed until the commission set up by Dom Jose Alves Correia announced the results of its work. The bishop then published a new pastoral letter in October 1930, which contained the following memorable paragraphs:
In virtue of considerations made known, and others which for reason of brevity we omit; humbly invoking the Divine Spirit and placing ourselves under the protection of the most Holy Virgin, and after hearing the opinions of our reverend: advisers in this diocese, we hereby: 1. Declare worthy of belief, the visions of the shepherd children in the Cova da Iria, parish of Fatima, in this diocese, from the 13th of May to the 13th of October, 1917. 2. Permit officially the cult of Our Lady of Fatima.
Nothing further was needed. The pilgrimages to the Cova da Iria grew to immense proportions, not only from Portugal but from both hemispheres and almost every corner of the earth. Fatima was to call down upon Portugal an immensity of grace, and for Christendom at large has come to symbolise the spiritual war against Communism and to be the focal point of the new crusade.
The apostolic nuncio presided at the first Portuguese national pilgrimage on May 13, 1937, at which it is calculated some half million pilgrims were present. The second national pilgrimage took place on May 13, 1938, and was the fulfilment of a promise made by the Portuguese episcopate if our Lady should deliver Portugal from the Communist menace which caused the terrible civil war in Spain, and which was waged in places only a few yards from her soil.
The 13th of October, 1939, marked one of the most glorious pages in the history of the great new Marian shrine. The cardinal patriarch of Lisbon presided at the pilgrimage to implore peace for Portugal.
From the 8th to the 13th of April, 1942, on the occasion of their second national congress, the Juventude Catolica Feminine (Girls’ Catholic Youth Movement) organised the triumphal journey of the statue from the Chapel of the Apparitions, to Lisbon and back again to the Cova da Iria by the 13th of May, where another notable national pilgrimage took place to celebrate the silver jubilee of Fatima. In October of the same year, the Holy Father, Pius XII, broadcast in Portuguese his famous consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
OCTOBER 31, 1942: PAPAL RECOGNITION OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA: CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY
“Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children: Bless the God of Heaven and glorify Him before all the living, because He has shown you His mercies. Once again, in this year of grace, you climbed the holy mountain of Fatima, taking with you the heart of all Christian Portugal. There in that oasis fragrant with faith and piety, you laid at the feet of your Virgin protectress the tribute of your love, your homage and your gratitude for the immense benefits which you have lately received; you also made your humble supplication that she would continue her protection of your country at home and overseas, and defend it from the great tribulation by which the world is tormented.
“We, who as common Father of the faithful, make our own the sorrows as well as the joys of our children, unite ourselves with all the affection of our heart with you, to praise and exalt the Lord, giver of all good; to thank Him for the graces of her by whose hands you receive the divine munificence and this torrent of grace. We do this with the greater pleasure, because you, with filial affection, have desired to associate the Jubilee of Our Lady of Fatima and our own episcopal consecration, in the same Eucharistic solemnities. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Vicar of Christ on earth are profoundly dear to the Portuguese. They have had a place in the most faithful heart of Portugal from the dawn of her nationhood; from the time when the first re-conquered lands, nucleus of the future nation, were consecrated to the Mother of God as the Terra de Santa Maria and the newly constituted kingdom was placed under the protection of Saint Peter.
“The first and greatest duty of man is gratitude. There is nothing so pleasing to God as a soul grateful for the graces and benefits received; in this you have a great debt toward the Virgin Mother and patron of your country.
“In a tragic hour of darkness and distress, when the ship of the state of Portugal, having lost the guide of her most glorious traditions, and driven off her course by anti-Christian and anti-national currents, seemed to be running for certain shipwreck, unconscious of present or future dangers whose gravity no one could humanly foretell; in that hour, heaven, which foresaw these dangers, intervened, and in the darkness light shone; out of chaos order reigned; the tempest abated and Portugal the Faithful can pick up her glorious part as a crusading and missionary nation. All honour to those who have been the instruments of Providence in this glorious enterprise!
“But glory and thanksgiving first and foremost to the Blessed Virgin, Queen and Mother of this land, which she always aided in its hours of tragedy, and in this most tragic of all, made her protection so manifest, that in 1934, our predecessor, Pius XI (of immortal memory), attested in an apostolic letter, Ex officiosis Litteris, to the extraordinary benefits which the Mother of God had recently accorded to Portugal.
“At that time the promise of May, 1936,36 against the Communist peril, had not yet been made. This peril came so fearfully close, loomed up so unexpectedly, that no one could have affirmed with certainty that the marvellous peace which Portugal has enjoyed, and which in spite of everything is immeasurably less ruinous than the present war of extermination, could be maintained. Today further benefits can be added to those mentioned. The atmosphere of miracle in which Portugal is enveloped, has been transformed into innumerable prodigies, many physical, and those yet more marvellous miracles of grace and conversion which flower in this springtime of Catholic life, and which promise to bear abundant fruit. Today with even greater reason, we must confess that the Mother of God has accorded you the most real and extraordinary blessings. The sacred duty of thanksgiving is all the more incumbent upon you.
[36. A promise made collectively by the bishops of Portugal to our Lady to organise a national pilgrimage to Fatima to ward off the threat of Communism to their country.]
“That you have done this during the present year we are well aware. The official homage must have been agreeable to heaven and also the sacrifices of children, the prayer and penance of the lowly and humble. The welcome given to our Lady during her pilgrimage to the capital of the Empire during the memorable days of last April was, perhaps, the greatest demonstration of faith in the eight centuries of your history as a nation. Also the national pilgrimage of the 13th of May, heroic day of sacrifice, when in cold and rain hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came to Fatima on foot to pray, and give thanks, and make reparation. Among these the enterprise and vigorous-example of Catholic youth were apparent; there were the Eucharistic crusades of children who told the Mother of God that they had done what she desired – prayers, sacrifices, Communions in thousands – and therefore prayed: Our lady of Fatima, it now rests with you. Say but one word to your divine Son, and the world will be saved and Portugal delivered from the scourge of war. The precious crown of gold and jewels, and more important, of pure love and sacrifice which you offered to your august protectress as a symbol and sign of your eternal gratitude; this and other most beautiful demonstrations of piety which, with the zealous help of the episcopate, have been so fertile in all parishes and dioceses in this Jubilee Year, show the gratitude of the faithful Portuguese people, and satisfy the debt which they owe to their heavenly Queen and Mother.
“Gratitude for the past is a pledge of confidence for the future. God demands our gratitude for His benefits, not because He needs our thanks, but because our recognition of His goodness prompts Him to further generosity. For this reason it is right to trust that the Mother of God, in accepting your thanksgiving, will not leave her works incomplete, and will faithfully continue to be your protectress as in days past, and preserve you from greater calamities.
“But, in order not to presume upon her goodness, it is necessary that each one, conscious of his responsibilities, should make every effort to be worthy of the singular favour of the Virgin Mother, and as grateful and loving children, deserve her maternal protection more and more.
“We must obey her maternal counsel as given at the Cana wedding, and do all that Jesus desires us to do. And she has told everyone to do penance and turn away from sin, which is the principal cause of the great chastisements which Eternal Justice sends upon the world. In the midst of this materialised and pagan world, in which the way of all flesh is corrupted, we must be the salt of the earth and the light, preserving and illuminating; we must carefully cultivate purity, and reflect the holy austerity of the Gospels in our lives; and, at all costs, as the gathering of Catholic youth affirmed in Fatima, openly live as sincere and convinced Catholics. More yet; filled with Christ, we must diffuse around us the sweet fragrance of Christ, and by assiduous prayer, particularly the daily Rosary, and by the sacrifices with which God inspires us, obtain for sinners the life of grace and eternal salvation.
“You will then most confidently invoke the Lord and He will hear you; you will call on the Mother of God, and she will answer: ‘I am here.’ Then the watchman of the city will not keep watch in vain, because the Lord will keep guard and defence, while the house, which is built upon a secure foundation, will be fortified by the Lord. Happy are the people whose King is God and whose Queen is the Mother of God. She will intercede with God and bless her people with peace, which is the compendium of all good.
“But you cannot be indifferent (indeed who could be so? ) to the vast tragedy which torments the world. Rather, the more you are privileged by her mercies for which you give thanks today, the more securely will you place your confidence in the future under her protection, the more tragic will seem to you, the fate of so many nations torn by the greatest calamity of history.
“Terrible manifestation of divine justice! Let us adore its greatness! Yet we must not doubt the divine mercy, because Our Father in Heaven does not forget us, even in the days of His wrath.
“Now that the fourth year of war has dawned more threateningly than ever, with the spread of the conflict, now more than ever can our trust rest only in God; and, as mediator by the throne, in her name whom one of our predecessors in the First World War ordered to be invoked as Queen of Peace, let us invoke her again, for only she can help us. She whose maternal heart was moved by the ruin of your country and so wonderfully came to its aid; she, saddened by her foreknowledge of this terrible tragedy by which God’s justice punishes the world, had already indicated in prayer and penance the road to salvation. She will not now deny us her maternal tenderness nor her most efficacious protection.
“Queen of the most Holy Rosary, Help of Christians, and Refuge of the human race, Conqueror in all the great battles of God, we humbly prostrate ourselves, certain of obtaining mercy and finding grace and opportune help in the present calamity. We do not presume on our merits but only on the immense bounty of your maternal heart. To you, to your Immaculate Heart, we as common father of the great Christian family, as vicar of Him to whom was given all power in heaven and earth and from whom we receive the charge of so many souls redeemed by His precious blood; to you, to your Immaculate Heart in this tragic hour of human history, we confide, we consecrate, we deliver, not only Holy Church, the mystical body of your Jesus which bleeds and suffers in so many parts and is in so much tribulation, but also the whole world, torn by discord, burning in the fires of hate, victim of its own iniquity. May you be moved by so much ruin, material and moral, so much sorrow, so much agony of fathers, mothers, wives, brothers and sisters, of innocent children, cut off in the flower of their lives, so many bodies destroyed in the horrible carnage, so many souls tortured and agonised, so many in danger of eternal loss.
“Mother of Mercy, obtain from God both peace, and above all, those graces which can convert evil hearts in a moment of time and which prepare, conciliate, assure true peace. Queen of Peace, pray for us and give peace to the world at war, that peace for which the peoples sigh, peace in the truth, the justice, the charity of Christ! Give peace from armed warfare and in souls, so that the Kingdom of God may develop in tranquillity and order.
“Extend your protection to unbelievers and those who still lie in the shadow of death; give them peace, and let the sunlight shine upon them so that they may repeat before the one Saviour of the World: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will!
“To peoples separated by error and discord, namely, those who profess your singular devotion, where there was no house that did not display your holy icon, today hidden perhaps until better days, give them peace, and lead them again to the only flock of Christ under the true and only Shepherd. Obtain peace and complete liberty for the Holy Church of God. Stem the waves of paganism and materialism, and kindle in the faithful love of purity, the practice of a Christian life, and apostolic zeal, that the people who serve God may increase in merit and in numbers.
“Finally, as the Church and the whole human race were consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so that placing in Him all its hopes, it might have a pledge of victory and salvation, thus from today may they be perpetually consecrated to your Immaculate Heart, O Mother and Queen of the world, that your love and protection may hasten the triumph of the Kingdom of God, and that all generations of mankind, at peace with themselves and with God, may proclaim you blessed and with you may intone, from pole to pole, the eternal Magnificat of glory, love and thanksgiving to the Heart of Jesus where alone may be found truth, life and peace.
“In the hope that these our supplications and prayers may be favourably heard by the divine bounty; to you, beloved cardinal patriarch, venerable brethren and clergy, that grace from on high may ever render your zeal more fertile; to the president of the republic; to the illustrious head of the government and his ministers and authorities, that in this singularly grave and difficult hour, heaven may continue to assist them in their activities in favour of peace and the common good; to all our beloved children in Portuguese territory at home and overseas, that the Blessed Virgin may confirm what she has deigned to operate in you; to all and each of the Portuguese as a pledge of celestial grace, we bestow with all our paternal love and affection our apostolic benediction.”
MAY 13, 1946: OFFICIAL CROWNING OF THE OUR LADY OF FATIMA STATUE
Rome had recognised and blessed the apparitions to the shepherd children of Aljustrel. Henceforth Fatima was to spread throughout the world.
Some four years passed and the World War came to an end. Portugal, which had been visibly protected by the Blessed Virgin, and saved almost miraculously from the horrors which almost every other European nation suffered, sought to give public expression to the generally felt gratitude.
The women of Portugal contributed precious stones from among their jewels to make a crown for the statue which had been venerated in the Chapel of the Apparitions since the beginning.
Knowing that Pope Pius XII had followed with the greatest interest and approval the resurgence of religion in Portugal – a resurgence so obviously connected with the apparitions of Fatima – the episcopate decided to ask the Holy Father to send a legate to the solemn coronation ceremony.
On May 10, 1946, Cardinal Benedetto Aloisi Masella arrived and was received with all the honour due to a pontifical legate. His first words were broadcast throughout the country:
The Holy Father Pius XII, gloriously reigning, loves this country and is deeply interested in its affairs. He sends me to you, beloved Portuguese children, with the most worthy mission of crowning Our Lady of Fatima, our Mother and our Queen.
It is a pontifical legate who has come to tell you that the Holy Father unites with you in the impressive homage which you will pay to the Blessed Virgin during these days.
The ceremony, which will take place next Monday, will certainly draw down upon your beloved country the choicest blessings of God.
It is for me an immense satisfaction to see the affection and regard with which you have received the legate of the Supreme Pontiff. I will, as is my duty, make known to His Holiness, the noble sentiments with which you have received me accompanied by such a great manifestation. I am sure that the Holy Father will feel the deepest satisfaction.
At this moment I would like to express my most sincere and profound gratitude to His Excellency the President of the Republic, present in his representative, to His Eminence the cardinal patriarch, to the bishops here present, the ministers of state, the civil and military authorities, and to all of you, together with my warmest wishes for the prosperity of your beloved country.
On the 13th of May about 800,000 people awaited the Cardinal in the Cova da Iria. He arrived in company with many bishops and other eminent persons.
We find it impossible adequately to describe what we can justly call the most memorable day in the history of Christianity in Portugal. Fatima was not only the altar of Portugal, it was the altar of the world.
The words of the pope were broadcast to the pilgrims of Fatima and the Portuguese, at home and overseas, directly after the coronation ceremony:
“Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons and Daughters: Blessed be the Lord God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our tribulation. Blessed also, she whom He appointed Mother of Mercy, our Queen and our beloved Advocate, Mediatrix of all graces, and dispenser of all His treasures.
“When, four years ago, amid the turmoil of the most deadly war history has yet seen, we ascended this holy mountain in spirit with you for the first time, to join our thanks with yours for the immense benefits accorded you by Our Lady of Fatima, it was a magnificent occasion to mingle our prayers of filial confidence to the Immaculate Queen and Protector of Portugal, and pray that she would complete that which she had so marvellously begun.
“Your presence today in this sanctuary, in such immense numbers that they can hardly be calculated, is an affirmation that the Immaculate Virgin Queen, whose maternal and compassionate heart conceived the prodigy of Fatima, has superabundantly heard your prayers.
“Ardent grateful love has brought you here and, wishing to present her with a concrete expression of it, you symbolised and condensed the same into a precious crown – fruit of so much generosity and sacrifice – which by the hand of our cardinal legate we have just placed upon the head of the miraculous statue. It is a symbol to attest your love and gratitude to your Heavenly Queen, and brings to your minds the love and benefits without number which the Virgin Mother has accorded to her Terra de Santa Maria. Eight are the centuries of benefits. The first five under the emblems of Santa Maria de Alcobaca. Santa Maria da Vitoria and Santa Maria de Belem, in the epic struggles for nationhood against the Crescent, and in the discovery of new islands and continents where your great men planted the cross of Christ side by side with the national flag. The last three centuries came under the special protection of the Immaculate One whom the monarch of the restoration, united in assembly with the whole nation, acclaimed patron of his realms and possessions, offering her his crown as an especial tribute of vassalage, with an oath to defend even to the death the privilege of her Immaculate Conception. He trusted, according to his own words, with great confidence in the infinite mercy of our Lord, and through our Lady, Patron and Protectress of our realms and possessions, of whom by our honour we confess ourselves to be vassals and servants, may we be defended and guarded from our enemies, with great increase of these realms to the glory of Christ our God, and to the exaltation of our Holy Catholic Roman Faith, the conversion of the heathen and the downfall of heretics.
“The Virgin most Faithful did not betray the trust which had been placed in her. It is enough to reflect on these last decades, on the crises surmounted and the benefits received. Enough to lift up the eyes and see the Cova da Iria transformed into a fountain flowing with supernatural grace; to see the physical prodigies and the even greater moral miracles, the torrents which flow from here over all Portugal and then, bursting all frontiers, spread to the whole Church and the world. How is it possible not to give thanks – or, rather, how is it possible to give thanks worthily?
“Three hundred years ago, the monarch of the restoration laid his royal crown at the feet of the Immaculate Virgin, proclaiming her Queen and Patron. Today it is all of you who act, the people of the Terra de Santa Maria, together with the shepherds of your souls and with your government.
“To the ardent prayers, to the generous sacrifices, to the Eucharistic solemnities, to the thousand acts of homage which your filial love has suggested to you, you have added the precious crown, and with it have girded the brow of Our Lady of Fatima, here in this blessed oasis impregnated with the supernatural, where in a concrete manner you experience her marvellous protection, and where you all feel nearer her Immaculate Heart filled with immense tenderness and maternal solicitude for you and for the world. Most precious crown, symbol of love and gratitude!
“This great concourse, the fervour of your prayers, the thunder of your acclamations, the holy enthusiasm which vibrates in your hearts; and, finally, the sacred rite which in this moment of incomparable triumph has just been performed, call to our mind another multitude innumerable, other cries of homage yet more ardent, another solemn and eternal hour, the endless day of eternity when the glorious Virgin, triumphantly entering the heavenly homeland, through the nine choirs of angels, was raised even to the throne of the most Holy Trinity, who placed upon her brow the triple diadem of glory. There she was presented to the court of heaven, seated at the right hand of the Immortal King of Ages and crowned Queen of the Universe.
“And the King saw that she was truly worthy of such honour, glory and empire, because she was more filled with grace, more holy, more beautiful, nearer to the divine, incomparably more so, than the greatest saints and sublimest angels, separately or together. This because she is mysteriously related in the order of the hypostatic union with the Blessed Trinity, with Him who is in essence the Infinite Majesty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She is the first-born Daughter of the Father and pure Mother of the Word, beloved Bride of the Holy Ghost, because Mother of the Divine King, of Him to whom from her maternal womb the Lord God gave the throne of David and everlasting Kingship in the House of Jacob. He alone proclaimed to have received all power in heaven and earth, He the Son of God, decrees for His Mother all the glory, power and majesty of His Kingdom.
“Because she is associated as Mother and Helper of the King of Martyrs in the ineffable work of human redemption, she is also, forever, most powerfully associated in the distribution of grace and divine redemption. Jesus is King of the eternal ages by nature and by conquest. By Him, with Him, and under Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by her divine relationship, by conquest and by singular election. And her kingdom is vast, vast as that of her divine Son, because from her dominion none is excluded. So the Church salutes her as Lady and Queen of Apostles and Martyrs, of Confessors and Virgins, acclaims her Queen of Heaven and earth, most glorious and worthy Queen of the Universe – ‘Regina Caelorum’: most worthy Queen of the world – ‘Regina mundi’: the light shining amid the tears of this exile. ‘Hail, Holy Queen! Mother of Mercy, Hail! Our life, our sweetness and our hope.’ It is precisely this royalty that you have known not only in the more obvious benefits, but also in the innumerable blessings of that maternal heart which you praise and proclaim today.
“The most terrible war which the world has seen, threatened for four long years to cross your frontiers, but thanks to our Lady in her throne and heavenly watchtower, here in the center of your country, you were protected; the war was not allowed to touch you except in such ways as might the better cause you to realise the calamities from which you were preserved.
“You have crowned her Queen of Peace and of the world, which may thus be helped to find peace and to rise again from the ruins. And so this crown, symbol of love and gratitude for the past, as of faith and loyalty for the present, becomes also a message of hope for the future.
“By crowning the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, you signed, as it were, a document of faith in her supremacy, a loyal submission to her authority, a filial and constant correspondence to her love. You did yet more; you enlisted as crusaders in the conquest and re-conquest of her kingdom which is the Kingdom of God; that is to say, you bound yourselves before heaven and earth to love her, to venerate her, to serve her, to imitate her in order that you might better serve the Divine King; and, at the same time, you bound yourselves to labor that she might be loved and venerated and served all around you, in the family, in society, in the world.
“In this decisive hour of history in which the kingdom of evil employs all its forces with devilish cruelty to destroy faith and morals and the Kingdom of God, the children of Light and children of God must employ every means, and unite wholeheartedly to defend them, that they may not be lost in a ruin incomparably greater and more disastrous than all the material ruin caused by the war.
“In this struggle there must be no neutrals, no indecisive ones. There must be an enlightened, convinced and fearless Catholicism in its faith and works, in private as in public, one hundred per cent Catholic, in the words of the great gathering of Catholic Youth in Fatima four years ago.
“In the hope that our prayers will be favourably heard by the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and that the hour of her triumph and the triumph of the Kingdom of God may be hastened; as a pledge of celestial grace, to you venerable brethren and to all your clergy, to the president of the republic and the illustrious head of the government and his ministers, to all the civil and military authorities and. to all of you beloved sons and daughters, pilgrims of Our Lady of Fatima, with as many as are united to you in spirit in Portugal, at home and overseas, we bestow, L with all paternal affection and love our apostolic blessing.”