One year ago, I posted a series of articles on Mary, especially Fatima. I explained why the exploitation of Mary by papal dissenters was wrongheaded. You can see the most relevant articles here and here.
One year later, not much has changed. I published a couple of articles defending my Christian brethren of the Amazon from unfounded accusations of paganism ginned up to attack the Holy Father. The most recent of these articles was published on October 13th, the anniversary of the final apparition at Fatima in 1917, the day of the Miracle of the Sun, when the sun danced in the sky above tens of thousands of eyewitnesses. The date of publication was not chosen on purpose. Most of of the article was already written two days before, but a business trip and my birthday prevented me from publishing it earlier.
Fatima was on the way home from my trip, and my wife insisted she wanted to attend Sunday Mass in Fatima on that special date of October 13th. At that time, the article had not yet been posted online. My mind was preoccupied with the online accusations that I was promoting a blasphemous and sacrilegious image of the Blessed Mother. I did not want to go to Fatima, because I was tired from the previous week. It was a long trip. I also dislike large crowds and was concerned that there would be too many people there. Still, my wife insisted and I wanted to make her happy, so I acquiesced.
I am glad that I gave this gift to my wife, because it was actually a gift to me. Nothing of what happened was initially chosen or planned by me.
Since most of the celebrations had taken place from the evening of the 12th through noon on the 13th, Fatima was almost empty by the time we arrived there, at 6:30 pm. We found a parking spot right next to the place where the next Mass was going to take place: the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, the place where we got married. Everything was falling into place very smoothly.
But what struck me was the actual Mass. At first I was distracted, with the accusations of the critics constantly revolving around in my head; the accusations the critics had been throwing against me and my Amazonian brothers and sisters for an entire week. But the Word of God woke me up from this rumination. Specifically, the Gospel reading. I could not believe what I was hearing!
The Gospel reading echoed through the vastness of the Basilica, right into my ears:
“Thou art Peter; and upon this rock will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”
In the course of the homily, I learned that October 13th was not only the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, but also the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. So, of course, the homily was about how stone temples are a prefiguration of the actual Temple of God, the living Church made out of living stones, which we all are. Among those living stones, Peter takes a prominent place, for he is the rock upon which Jesus built His Church.
The priest then went on to say: “Fatima is intertwined with Peter. Since the beginning of this devotion, Fatima has been linked with the Successor of Peter, be it Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI or Francis.”
Memories came gushing into my mind. I remembered being a child in 1991 and seeing the discolored TV images, typical of that time period, of John Paul II’s visit to Portugal. I remember thinking at that time that the Pope had never been so close to me. I then remembered the pilgrimage of Benedict XVI in 2010, the first time I saw a Pope in person. And I remembered the most recent visit of Francis to the same site. Yes, it was a fact, Fatima and Popes had always been connected in my mind. The former boosted the faith of which the latter was the Visible Head. And the latter confirmed the former. It was a relationship of friendship. Whenever Fatima and Popes were together, I could feel the aura of holiness and otherworldliness in the air.
In other words, Fatima cannot be separated from the Pope. Mary and Peter are allies, not enemies. You cannot pit one against the other.
When I left Mass, I scrolled down my Twitter feed, and found numerous Catholic public figures crying out against the image of Our Lady of the Amazon, invoking October 13th and Our Lady of Fatima in their imprecations. Soon afterward, Mike Lewis gave the go-ahead for the publication of the article. I asked him if we should wait for Monday, and he replied that some part of him pulled him to publish it right away. October 13th as a Marian date did not come up in our editorial conversation. After it was posted, other detractors were quick to criticize me for publishing the article on this special date. They said I should spend my time studying Fatima instead.
In response, I have decided to share this lesson that Fatima taught me on that special day. It was not a lesson that I sought. It was not something I set up. It was something that I needed to hear, even if I didn’t know it, because I needed to relay it to my readers. Here is the message that I got from Fatima: Fatima and Popes are intertwined. You cannot divorce one from the other. Mary and Peter are friends. They are united by their love for Christ.
In other words, the only blasphemous and sacrilegious depiction of Mary that is being advanced today is the false and non-approved “Our Lady of the Roman Apostasy.” The distorted vision of Our Lady that seeks to separate that which cannot be separated. This false image is not Our Lady, but an impostor that comes from the Divider, called the diabolus in Latin. Remain with Mary instead, by remaining with Peter.
Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.