The ’Splainer: Who is Our Lady of Fatima and what is the ‘Third Secret’?

Source: Religion News Service

(RNS) The ’Splainer (as in “You’ve got some ’splaining to do”) is an occasional feature in which the RNS staff gives you everything you need to know about current events to hold your own at the water cooler.Pope Francis heads to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in northern Portugal on Friday (May 12) to celebrate the centenary of the first appearances of the Virgin Mary as described by three shepherd children on May 13, 1917.

What were those apparitions and why have they played such a central role in Catholicism over the past 100 years? And what are the so-called “secrets of Fatima,” only some of which have been “revealed” by the Catholic Church? Let us Splain …

What is Fatima?

Fatima is a small city in central Portugal where the landscape is dry and rocky. For centuries, the local people made their living raising sheep and other animals. Then, in May 1917, three shepherd children — two girls and a boy — claimed they saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The children described Mary as “a lady dressed all in white, more brilliant than the sun.” Mary told the children that praying the rosary would end what was then called The Great War — World War I to us — which by its end a year later left 17 million dead and 20 million wounded.

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