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Monday Morning Brief | A famous apparition celebrates its 100th anniversary

May 08, 2017 08:00 AM

Scott catalog new-issues editor Marty Frankevicz traces the history of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to a trio of children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. This coming weekend, a century after Mary made her startling appearance, Pope Francis will canonize Francisco, who died in 1919, and Jacinta, who passed away the following year.

Full Video Transcript:

Good morning and welcome to the Monday Morning Brief for May 8, 2017.

Stamps have for many years marked important historical anniversaries. However, some anniversaries are only the culmination of a series of events. History sometimes starts out small.

In the past few months, Luxembourg, San Marino, Poland, Slovakia Vatican City, and Portugal have issued stamps marking the centenary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Lúcia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, near Fatima, Portugal. This coming Saturday, May 13, marks the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to the children.

What is often lost in the recounting of this story is that this was not the first apparition these children saw. In the summer of 1916, the children saw an apparition of what they called the “Angel of Peace” or the “Angel of Portugal” on three separate occasions. The angel taught them prayers and prepared them for a bigger event to come.

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On that 13th day of May in 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to the children, requesting them to pray repeatedly for peace and telling them she would return the following six months on the 13th.

This event finally got Jacinta to spill the beans. Until then, the visitations were a secret held between the three children. This news spread quickly, and derision, disbelief, and abuse were directed toward the children. Yet the children returned to these meetings.

In June, at the second apparition, the Virgin Mary indicated that Lúcia would live, but the other two would die young. And the children still kept coming back. Secrets were divulged to the children by the apparition in July.

By August, skeptical civil authorities heard of the apparitions and the secrets. Attempting to get the children to recant their unbelievable and politically dangerous story, they held them so they could not make their August 13 meeting.

After their release from custody, the apparition, not to be denied, caught up with them on the 19th. Large crowds followed the children to their September meeting, but only the children saw the apparition.

An even larger crowd returned in October in a rain storm. After the Virgin Mary appeared to the children, Lúcia told the crowd to look at the sun. It is said the rain suddenly stopped and many in the crowd claimed the sun danced or rotated in the sky – which many believe is the Miracle at Fatima.

As requested by the apparition in October, a chapel was built on the site of the visitations, and the pasture was converted into a place of pilgrimage.

As predicted by the apparition, Francisco died in 1919, and Jacinta a year later. Lúcia received yet another apparition in 1925 while in a convent. She lived to age 97, dying in 2005. Five popes have visited Fatima, and Pope Francis will make Jacinta and Francisco saints in a canonization ceremony in Fatima this coming weekend.

For Linn’s Stamp News and the Scott Catalogues, I’m Marty Frankevicz. Enjoy your week in stamps.