THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT FATIMA, VOLUME II
THE SECRET AND THE CHURCH
2.3 The Beginnings of a Magnificent Renaissance
(1926 – 1931)
« If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. » Ten years had not yet elapsed since Her promise, when after the conversion of a multitude of souls, the Blessed Virgin granted peace to Her privileged nation. This time it was a stable peace, which finally liberated the country from the yoke of the Masonic revolution, which persecuted religion and worked against the country. Deliverance came at the very moment when the situation appeared the most desperate.
I. THE DAWN OF NATIONAL RECOVERY (1926-1929)
PORTUGAL ON THE BRINK OF THE ABYSS. In fact, as we have said, after the assassination of Sidonio Pais, although the Church had been able to preserve its liberty, the State fell once again into Republican anarchy. In 1919, the supporters of Don Manuel had attempted a restoration of the monarchy in the north of the country, but this too failed after one month. The following years were just as sad as those which had preceded the national upheaval of 1917-1918. Simply recalling a few events, alas, is enough to show that…
On October 19, 1920, several heads of the Republic were massacred by the Bolsheviks with refined cruelty. The financial situation was catastrophic, and strikes multiplied. Everywhere there was disorder. Between 1910 and 1926, one could count no less than sixteen revolutions and more than forty changes of the ministry. At the time, one member of the government, Canto de Maia, admitted before Parliament : « the country is a basket case ! » Disgust was widespread. « Portugal is humiliated, ruined, a laughing-stock, on the brink of the abyss. » 1 At any moment the “ Red Legion ” could have seized power and swept away the puppet government. At this point the Army intervened.
THE SAVING COUP D’ÉTAT OF MAY 28, 1926
Portuguese historians have not failed to stress a happy coincidence : it was from Braga, “ the Rome of Portugal ”, the capital of the Catholic bastion of the North, that the military uprising came, at the very moment when two hundred thousand of the faithful were attending a triumphant Marian congress, during which the nuncio himself did not fear to attribute the national recovery to the apparitions of Fatima.
Father José de Oliveira Dias writes : « Just at the moment when Our Lady’s statue went out in procession from the Church of “ Populo ” to go on to Sameiro (the great national sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception), the troops of the eighth infantry regiment, under the blessing of Mary, one might say, left their barracks next to the Church in anticipation of the Revolution. » 2
From a window at his command post, General Gomes da Costa was present at the procession of the congress members. A prestigious soldier, former commander-in-chief of the expeditionary corps in Flanders during the First World War, he headed the uprising which he directed as he left Braga, while General Carmona for his part marched on Lisbon from Evora, thus taking the capital in a pincers movement. « Our country is sick ! It must be saved ! » Such was the theme of the national revolution. And, as Gomes da Costa repeats, « only the army had sufficient moral authority and material force to identify itself with the unity of a country which did not want to die. » 3
The movement corresponded so well to the unanimous expectations of the nation, both the masses as well as the elites, that « in three days it won over the entire country and triumphed without a single shot being fired or a single drop of blood being spilled, a unique instance in the history of the military revolutions in Portugal. The faithful attributed it to a special protection of the Virgin of Sameiro. » 4
THE FIRST STEPS OF “ THE NATIONAL REVOLUTION ”. On May 31, the legislature was dissolved and the president of the Republic resigned. Still, the change was not a radical one. Before his departure, President Machado had succeeded in imposing his man on the victorious generals : Major Cabecadas, one of the founders of the Masonic Republic of 1910. On June 17, however, he stepped aside.
In spite of his courage and patriotism, General Gomes da Costa himself remained too liberal to successfully conclude the work of recuperation. He temporised too much. « The military, which had not been afraid to march on Lisbon with two badly equipped companies of soldiers, remained fearful in the midst of the politicians », observes Ploncard d’Assac. 5 In addition, the parties began to reform themselves and Masonry began to agitate. The leader of the coup d’état clearly lacked the necessary energy and political savvy. On July 7, he stepped aside to leave power in the sole hands of General Carmona.
Supreme power now rested in firmer hands, but for two more years the situation remained difficult. In February of 1927, uprisings broke out at Porto and Lisbon. Without the firm reaction of Carmona they would have plunged the country into revolution. However, the national movement enjoyed the double support of the army, which was completely loyalist, and the best part of the people, who desired order and rejoiced to see full liberty finally given to religion in an official manner by a whole series of laws favourable to the Church. On March 25, 1928, the election of General Carmona as President of the Republic confirmed the stability of the new regime.
THE FINANCIAL COLLAPSE AND THE APPEAL TO SALAZAR. One fly in the ointment remained, however : the catastrophic financial situation left by the former regime, which the new government had not succeeded in correcting. Carmona then requested a loan from the League of Nations. This was granted, but on the condition that one of the League’s liaison agents would have a permanent seat in Lisbon and control Portuguese economic policy. Having refused this unacceptable clause, General Carmona saw only one solution : to appeal to the only man who seemed capable of saving the country from the financial debacle. Thus, on April 28, 1928, Oliveira Salazar entered the government as Minister of Finance, now assuming the heaviest responsibility for the destiny of his country. The event was as important, if not more important, than the uprising of May 28, 1926.
A “ POLITICAL MIRACLE ” ? « Of all the states of Europe (said Bainville) Portugal is certainly the one which for thirty years has shown signs of the most tenacious anarchy. » 6 Yet after 1928, it was to become the most stable country in all of Europe : General Carmona remained President of the Republic until his death in 1951, and Salazar directed the government until 1968 !
After a century and a half of Masonic domination, and sixteen years of atheistic and antichristian revolution, for forty years Portugal would be governed by the most Catholic of all the heads of State of his time. 7 In this astonishing double contrast, is there not a sort of “ political miracle ” ? Without entering into useless controversies, we can say at least that the immense majority of the Portuguese people believed just that. The bishops also were unanimous in this opinion – an anti-Salazar bishop could not be found until 1958 ! – and Pope Pius XII himself concurred with the Portuguese people and their bishops. They all recognised in Salazar the “ man of Providence ” granted by God to Portugal for its national salvation. This is a fact of history. There are superabundant texts to prove it, and to be convinced it suffices to refer to the works of the best informed Fatima historians. 8
SALAZAR : FOR GOD AND COUNTRY
“ The man of providence ” ? Salazar was just that, first of all in the sense that he did not seize power through demagoguery or political intrigues. On the contrary, he was called to power by the head of State because his rare qualities – his unequalled competence in economic matters, his fundamental honesty, his obvious lack of interest in power for its own sake – made him indispensable for the recovery of the nation.
Now this man, who was the only one capable of saving the country in this critical hour, was first of all a devoted son of Holy Church, to whom he recognised that he owed everything he was. And if he accepted power because he was called to it, he had resolved also to put into practice, with prudence but also with tenacity, a social and political program which was completely Catholic in its inspiration.
For a man as sincerely and publicly Catholic as Salazar, both in his moral life and in his intimate convictions, to be able to rise to power and maintain it, in a country which only yesterday had been given over to the fiercest anticlericalism – and this without either armed struggle or bloodshed – was it the result of a prodigy ? Or simply the wise designs of Providence, which in admirable fashion had prepared him for this role ?
AT THE SERVICE OF THE CHURCH. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was born in 1889 in the village of Vimieiro in the north of Coimbra, in a region still very much imbued by Catholicism. He came entirely from peasant stock. His family lived in poverty. Young Antonio had an unlimited affection and admiration for his mother. At the age of eleven, he entered the seminary of Viseu. He was a hard-working boy, intelligent and pious. He was quickly chosen as president of the Congregation of Our Lady, which encompassed the elite of the seminary. In 1905, he began his studies in theology. Saint Thomas fascinated him and left a profound mark on him. In June of 1908 he received minor orders. He was only nineteen ; he had to wait before he could be ordained a priest…
Three months later, however, he changed orientation and decided not to become a priest. Let us make it clear that this sudden defection, which came before any definitive engagement, in itself was in no way dishonourable ; and in Salazar’s case, the motives which undoubtedly inspired it – the fear of being a burden to his parents several more years, or more profoundly, the absence of sufficiently clear certitude of the divine call, and the feeling of being unworthy of such a high vocation – do not permit us to minimise in any way his high moral qualities. The whole remainder of his life would furnish the proof of that. With an immense gratitude for his masters in the seminary, he always kept a lively and firm faith never shaken by doubt, moral integrity, and a discreet piety, free of all ostentation but very profound. He always remained faithful to the practice of daily Mass. « He leads the life of a monk », Cardinal Cerejeira said of him.
IN THE SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY. At the college of Viseu, where he taught while he was still a student, he became enamoured of education. In this way he believed that he would be the most useful to his country and the Church. In a conference he gave in 1909, he reveals to us his ideal of that time : « We hear it said all the time… that Portugal is in decadence, that we are on the verge of national annihilation. Everybody speaks of disasters. We encounter too many Jeremiahs in this country, wailing for the old days. And notice, gentlemen, that these Jeremiahs wail enough. They wail too much, and do not work enough. » 9
In 1910, he entered the University of Coimbra, where he studied law and economic sciences. He worked so hard and scored such dazzling successes in all his exams that he was given the chair of economic policy even before he had completed his doctorate.
During these years of study, he formed a very close friendship with a young priest his age who like him was studying at the University, Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira. 10 Together they fought for the CDAC, the “ Academic Centre for Christian Democracy ”. As Salazar later explained, the only democratic thing about it was the name, chosen in 1901 after the encyclical Graves de Communi of Pope Leo XIII. In fact, the CDAC was founded to oppose the antichristian propaganda of the masonic Republic. Of all the nationalist leaning organisations, it was the most specifically Catholic. Without giving a specific political solution for the future, the movement tended to spread among the youths the social ideas of La Tour du Pin and the encyclicals of Leo XIII. 11
Soon, Salazar and Father Cerejeira, who had both become professors at the University, became leaders of the CDAC, which was then transformed into a “ Catholic Centre ”. In 1921, Salazar was urged to take part in the elections. He was elected. But the proceedings in Parliament so disgusted him that, after taking part in the first session, he took the train back to Coimbra the same evening. From there he sent in his resignation.
In 1926, after the coup d’état of May 28, his reputation as an excellent economist resulted in his being called to collaborate in the new government. But since he was not given strict control over all the expenses of the State – a condition he had demanded because it was the only workable remedy for the financial disorder – he returned to his life as a simple professor, until the moment when the situation became so serious that once again the government requested his help.
“ THE MINISTRY OF GOD FOR THE COMMON GOOD ”. When the minister Duarte Pacheco came to Coimbra to persuade him to accept the office of Minister of Finance, far from welcoming this offer with enthusiasm, Salazar hesitated. Would the situation really allow him to be useful to the country ? He put off the decision until the next day. His biographer describes what happened next :
« He wanted beforehand to take counsel of his well-informed friends. Cerejeira (the two still lived in the same apartment at Rua dos Grilos) was the first to be told, and he was decidedly in favour of accepting. In his heart of hearts Salazar still resisted. His great modesty made him afraid of such a promotion. Then he sent for a religious saint, Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, the ardent apostle of enthronement of the Sacred Heart, who was then at Coimbra, and would occasionally visit the two professors at Rua dos Grilos. Father Mateo was categorical ; he strongly maintained that duty required Salazar to say yes.
« That night Salazar spent several hours in prayer before the tabernacle, in a private chapel. At dawn Father Mateo celebrated Mass for this intention. Salazar himself served and received communion. After his thanksgiving, his hesitations disappeared : “ It is my duty to accept ! ” » 12
Since then we know the deeper reason that inspired his decision. On July 4, 1924, in his great discourse to the Eucharistic Congress at Braga, he had expressed this magnificent formula to define the Christian vision of political power : « Not to aspire to power as though it were a right, but to accept it and exercise it as a duty ; to consider the State as the ministry of God for the common good… »
Salazar then went to Lisbon. Since all his conditions had been accepted, he entered office on April 28, 1928.
THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY. By a veritable prodigy of science, prudence and courage, within a year the new minister managed to straighten out a disastrous financial situation. At his arrival, the budget was burdened by an enormous deficit, the public debt was huge, gold reserves were exhausted. For the first time in a quarter of a century, there was now a budget surplus of several million escudos. Soon the public debt was retired, gold reserves were reconstituted, and the escudo became one of the most solid currencies in the world. 13
FIRST OF ALL, LIBERTY FOR THE CHURCH ! Far from letting himself be intoxicated by success, Salazar never forgot his most elevated ideal : to be useful to the Church while serving his country. A serious incident, which took place some time after his arrival at the ministry, even shows us that he had made this service of the Church a formal condition of his entering the government. Although the soldiers in power were supported by the Catholics, they were not all Catholics themselves. This was true for quite a few of them ! General Carmona, who had been a freemason himself, did not get rid of the old, obstinately anticlerical republican politicians overnight. One day, in the ministers’ council, they even discussed once more the limitations of certain acts of Catholic worship : processions, ringing of the bells, etc. Nastiness ? Of course, but anticlericalism is a devouring passion. Fortunately Salazar was there. He then reminded them of the condition he had set before agreeing to be Minister of Finance : the liberty which the Church enjoyed since the coup d’état of May 26 must not be limited in any way. Then he promptly submitted his resignation, which caused the rest of those in the government to do the same. However, Salazar recovered his post in the new government, 14 and he undoubtedly grew still more in the estimation of General Carmona.
THE GOVERNMENT AT THE FEET OF OUR LADY. What intimate joy Salazar must have experienced when on May 12, 1929, he found himself… at Fatima, accompanied by General Carmona and several members of the government ! In 1928, the wife and daughter of the President of the Republic had already been present at the blessing of the cornerstone of the basilica. This time, however, it meant a great deal more. Although the occasion of this official act was the inauguration of the new hospital, in fact the presence of the highest government officials at the Cova da Iria constituted the government’s first act of homage to Our Lady of Fatima. 15 This official homage symbolises the wonderful transformation of Portugal, which in a few years went from one of the worst Masonic regimes to a national government, resolutely favourable to the Church. Although Salazar was the providential instrument of this fortunate change, the initial cause was unquestionably the magnificent religious renaissance, of which Fatima was the inexhaustible source. This renaissance became even more abundant as the hierarchical authorities gradually recognised the authenticity of the apparitions.
II. TOWARDS THE OFFICIAL RENAISSANCE :
THE HIERARCHY RESPONDS TO THE GRACE OF FATIMA (1926 – 1930)
In the history of the early days of Fatima, a notable fact commands our attention : the way the Portuguese clergy took their time about developing an interest in it. Until 1920, Fatima depended practically on the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Mendes Belo, who was not favourable to the apparitions. 16 As we have seen, from 1920 to 1926 the Bishop of Fatima finally took the initial measures indispensable to the development and good order of the pilgrimage. But only in later years, from 1926 to 1931, did Fatima attain the rank of a great national pilgrimage patronised by the entire hierarchy, which was unanimous and fervent in its support.
Admittedly, when he was congratulated one day on the magnificent success of the pilgrimage, Bishop da Silva could respond in all humility and in all truth : « I didn’t do anything. The people and the Holy Virgin did everything before I arrived. » 17 However, if Our Lady willed that innumerable prodigies accompany Her apparitions, it was of course to irresistibly attract throngs of the faithful to the Cova da Iria, but it was also – and even more so – to convince the authorities of the Church of the reality of Her presence in this blessed place, and the truth of Her message, and thus to lead the bishops and the Pope to honour Her Immaculate Heart more, and spread the devotion to it in the whole Church. This is an essential point of the message : if the Blessed Virgin Mary is the all-powerful Mediatrix, capable of pouring out upon the world torrents of grace which can convert it, God wishes Her to accord them in response to the filial, public and solemn devotion of the Shepherds of the flock to Her Immaculate Heart.
The example of Portugal is significant. The extraordinary graces granted by Our Lady to this people have admirably corresponded to the acts of filial devotion to Her performed by the Portuguese bishops. We might add that this gradual rallying of all the bishops of the country to the cause of Fatima undoubtedly would never have happened without encouragement from Rome – which in this first period was discreet and frequent, and highly effective. Let us then follow step by step the events marking this filial correspondence of the hierarchy to the grace of Fatima. It was of capital importance, decisive for the spiritual and temporal salvation of Portugal. It was the condition for the miracle to happen.
1926 : SEVERAL PORTUGUESE BISHOPS AT THE COVA DA IRIA. On August 15, 1926, the Archbishop of Evora, Don Manuel Mendes de Conceicao Santos, who hailed from a village near Fatima, visited the sanctuary incognito. Also noticed there was the Archbishop of Braga, Primate of Portugal.
That same year on the Feast of All Saints, Our Lady of Fatima received a much more important visit. The apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Nicotra, then at Leiria for the commemoration of the seven hundredth anniversary of Saint Francis of Assisi, expressed a desire to visit the monastery of Batalha. Bishop da Silva accompanied him, and there the Pope’s representative asked to be taken to Fatima. The spectacle at the Cova da Iria moved him profoundly. Although there was no pilgrimage that day, a little crowd was there, praying on their knees before the Capelinha with a piety seen nowhere else. Later on the nuncio declared : « It seemed as though Our Lady was present among these brave people. » At the end of the Rosary, recited by Bishop da Silva in a loud voice, the nuncio was visibly moved. He addressed an allocution to the faithful and granted them a hundred days indulgence on the spot ! It was a memorable visit, foreboding excellent results for the future.
On December 13, 1926, it was the Bishop of Madera, Don Antonio Manuel Pereira, who came on pilgrimage and celebrated Mass in the pavilion of the sick. The people exulted with joy. 18 The hierarchy was no longer contenting itself with “ permitting ” things ; these kinds of gestures, which before long were rapidly multiplied, were already a form of official recognition and a precious encouragement for the pilgrims. They drew down an abundance of graces and blessings from Heaven on the Land of Holy Mary. After the people, the Shepherds in turn fervently responded to the message of the Immaculate Virgin. That same year there also appeared the first “ Pilgrim’s Manual ”.
1927 : THE BLESSING OF THE GREAT STATIONS OF THE CROSS. On January 21, 1927, the Sacred Congregation of Rites granted Fatima the privilege of being able to celebrate the Mass of Our Lady of the Rosary daily at the sanctuary. This concession was the first official act of the Holy See in favour of the pilgrimage.
However, the major event of the year was on June 26 : inauguration of the great Way of the Cross erected on the little mountainous road which goes from Batalha to Fatima. Starting from the crossroads of Reguengo do Fetal, eight miles from the sanctuary, the granite crosses were spaced out one-half mile apart. The procession, which began at eight o’clock in the morning, did not reach the Capelinha until two in the afternoon. There, for the first time, Bishop da Silva himself celebrated Holy Mass. Four hundred pilgrims received communion there. In spite of the exhausting walk, they had observed the Eucharistic fast since midnight. How zealously penance was practiced in those days ! And it was practiced at Fatima more than anywhere else. 19
MAY 13, 1928 : LAYING OF THE CORNERSTONE OF THE BASILICA. To describe this event we can hardly do better than give a few excerpts from the report given in L’Osservatore Romano on the following June 3. After a long description of the events, the author goes into his report for May 13. It is moving to observe that, in essence, nothing has changed since that time in the order of the ceremonies :
« On May 12, at ten o’clock in the evening, a priest gives some meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary. After the Rosary and the Litany of Our Lady, the torchlight procession begins. The enormous multitude of 150,000 persons was then transformed into a great torrent of light, winding through the high walls, the route, the chapels and the miraculous fountain, looking as though it wanted to illuminate Heaven itself with its splendour.
« After the procession, around midnight, everybody gathers around the altar where the Holy Sacrament is exposed… And the nocturnal adoration lasts until three o’clock in the morning. Then the Masses begin. They are celebrated at six altars and last until noon… Eighteen thousand people approach the Eucharistic Table. »
After the account of the blessing of the cornerstone by the Archbishop of Evora, the author continues his description of the ceremonies :
« The most solemn event is the Mass at noon and the blessing of the sick. The Mass is celebrated by His Grace the Bishop of Leiria, and the benediction is given by His Grace the Bishop of Evora. Three hundred thousand people attend it…
« When the statue of Our Lady is carried in procession from the Chapel of the Apparitions right up to the place where holy Mass will be celebrated in the presence of four hundred sick people, one witnesses the wonderful spectacle of three hundred thousand handkerchiefs waving in salute to the Virgin.
« The applause, the hurrahs, and the tears that well up in everybody’s eyes, from the bishops to the humblest peasant behind his cart, give this moment an extraordinary grandeur. It was like an enormous flock of white doves winging their way towards Heaven. The same scene is repeated at the end, when the Image is taken back to the Chapel of the Apparitions.
« After the benediction, His Grace the Archbishop of Evora addresses a vibrant appeal to the faithful present, exhorting them not to fail to sing at Fatima and in every place the glories of Mary, Patroness of Portugal. “ Today was the greatest religious demonstration ”, he added, “ and perhaps none like it has ever been seen. ”
« After the Ave Maria of Lourdes and other canticles, as a profession of faith everybody sings Queremos Deus (We want God), renewing the consecration to Our Lady one final time.
« Two hours later, this mysterious place where every stone breathes of piety, penance and sacrifice, had become once more a haven of peace and silence…
“ ILLUSTRIOUS PILGRIMS ”. « It would be impossible to give a list of the personalities who took part in the pilgrimage. We will mention however the wife and daughter of the President of the Ministry who approach the holy Table today, and also the wife and daughter of General Carmona, President of the Portuguese Republic. » 20
On October 1, 1928, the nuncio, Archbishop Nicotra, went a second time to Fatima. This year alone a million pilgrims could be counted at the Cova da Iria. When we recall the fervour of the pilgrimages of that era, we see what an immense movement of conversion was at work among the people.
AT ROME : AN UNOFFICIAL APPROVAL
After the visits of the apostolic nuncio to Fatima, after the favourable articles appearing in L’Osservatore Romano, the Pope himself gave clear signs of his benevolence towards the nascent pilgrimage.
On January 9, 1929, while receiving in audience the Portuguese Seminary in Rome, Pius XI offered the seminarians two images of Our Lady of Fatima, one for themselves and one for their families. 21
Another fact from the same period is worth reporting. The Dominican Bishop of Portalegre, Don Domingos Frutuoso, did not want to admit the reality of the apparitions. He had even forbidden public invocation of Our Lady of Fatima in his diocese. In 1929, during his ad limina visit, he confided these hesitations to the Holy Father. « “ How many seminarians did you have in 1917 ? ” asked the Pope. “ Eighteen, most Holy Father. ” “ How many do you have now ? ” “ A hundred and twenty. ” “ Then why are you waiting to thank Our Lady of Fatima ? ” » 22
On December 6 of the same year, the Pope himself wished to bless a statue of the Virgin of Fatima offered by the sculptor José Ferreira Thedim, for the new chapel of the Portuguese College at Rome, dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. 23
Again at Rome, and not without the approval of the Pope, on May 11, 1930, Father Gonzaga da Fonseca, S.J. gave an audio-visual conference on Fatima at the Biblical Institute. Before him was a vast audience of curial Cardinals, diplomats, professors and students from the Roman universities. 24
Of course these simple gestures had no official significance, but at least they showed the Holy Father’s thought at that time quite clearly. Word of these events quickly came back to Portugal, bringing the faithful and the apostles of Our Lady a precious comfort : the blessing of the Sovereign Pontiff. No doubt they also encouraged Bishop da Silva to speed up a successful conclusion to the canonical process. It had been opened in 1922 and the work had been proceeding at a regrettably slow pace.
1930 : CANONICAL APPROVAL OF THE APPARITIONS
On October 13, 1930, thirteen years after the events, the Bishop of Leiria, in his pastoral letter “ A divina Providencia ”, finally pronounced his solemn judgment. Although this act proceeded from his own authority, Bishop da Silva had desired to obtain Rome’s permission. He also confided later on to Canon Barthas « that he had sent to His Holiness Pius XI a whole dossier on the events at the Cova da Iria, and that after being completely informed, the Holy Father had encouraged him to publish his approbation… » 25
After an extended passage summing up all the proofs furnished by the inquiry, Bishop da Silva concluded his pastoral letter in this way :
« By virtue of the considerations we have just laid out, and others which we must omit to be brief, humbly invoking the divine Holy Spirit and trusting in the protection of Most Holy Mary, after having heard the Reverend consultors of our diocese, we judge it good :
« 1) To declare worthy of faith the visions of the children at the Cova da Iria, (in the) parish of Fatima in our diocese, which took place from May 13 to October 13, 1917;
« 2) To officially permit the cult of Our Lady of Fatima. » 26
In their canonical brevity the words were cold and dry, but they were decisive. They filled with joy the hundred thousand faithful present at the Cova da Iria on October 13, 1930. Their joy must have increased when they were undoubtedly told of the new indulgences which the Holy Father had just granted all pilgrims at Fatima on October 1. 27
III. THE DECISIVE ACT : THE NATIONAL CONSECRATION
TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY (MAY 13, 1931)
The solemn approval of the apparitions, which had been awaited for so long, as well as the obvious good will of the Sovereign Pontiff, aroused a holy enthusiasm in all of Portugal… In particular, it allowed a unanimous episcopate, gathered around Cardinal Cerejeira, 28 to give public testimony of its trustful devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.
They decided that on May 13, 1931, a great national pilgrimage of thanksgiving would be organised under the direction of all the bishops of the country. The bishops would then solemnly consecrate Portugal to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
THE RESPONSE TO A DESIRE OF HEAVEN ITSELF. We know that this decision, on which depended the future of their country (as we will see), was made by the bishops in the course of their retreat in common. That year it was preached by Father Mateo in the first few days of January, 1931. Who took the initiative for this act which corresponded so exactly to the great Secret, which at that time had not yet been divulged ? Father Alonso tells us, very significantly, that it was Sister Lucy herself who inspired the whole idea. 29 When and how did she come to know about this desire of Heaven, commanding her to ask that all the bishops of the country solemnly consecrate Portugal to the Immaculate Heart of Mary ? We do not know, and undoubtedly only the great work of Father Alonso will be able to furnish the complete answer. How did she inform the bishops of these desires of the Divine Will ? That, we can easily figure out : through her bishop, Msgr. da Silva. The latter however, always circumspect, proposed the national consecration to his brethren without telling them who had suggested this beautiful project. If he spoke about it to a few people – or perhaps to Father Mateo ? – in any case he said nothing about it to Cardinal Cerejeira, who knew nothing of Lucy’s request. 30
THE PROVIDENTIAL PREPARATIONS. Heaven never asks for anything impossible. And this time once again, as in the case of the devotion of reparation on the first Saturdays of the month, 31 divine Providence had prepared everything so well that the majority of the bishops – perhaps even all of them, with the single exception of the Bishop of Leiria, who had given them the idea – could accept this consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary without even realising that it corresponded to a formal request of Our Lady of Fatima. Indeed, the idea of a national consecration was widespread and favourably welcomed. In November of 1928, for the feast of Christ the King, had not the Portuguese bishops already solemnly consecrated their country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus ? The consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary proposed to them in 1931, appeared to them as the continuation and natural completion of this first act. 32
MAY 13, 1931. After the decision was made, Cardinal Cerejeira wrote an eloquent appeal to the pilgrims. 33 They responded eagerly : three hundred thousand of the faithful could be counted that day, coming from all over Portugal. Some of them had not been afraid to walk for nine days to participate in the pilgrimage ! In the presence of the apostolic nuncio, and all the bishops of the country or their representatives, before everybody and in the name of all, the Patriarch of Lisbon pronounced the Act of Consecration.
LIKE AN ECHO OF THE GREAT SECRET… We must quote here the essence of this magnificent text. It comes astonishingly close to the themes of the Secret, of which, however, the Cardinal was unaware. After giving a warm thanks to Our Lady for Her apparitions at Fatima, and for the shower of graces poured out since then at the Cova da Iria, the Cardinal read the formula of consecration. Quite happily, this consecration insisted forcefully on the hierarchical, episcopal character of the Act accomplished :
« The Shepherds chosen by Your Son to watch over and feed in His name the sheep He has acquired at the price of His blood – in this “ Land of Holy Mary ”, whose name cannot be pronounced without pronouncing Your own – come today – as the official and consecrated representatives of their flocks, and in an act of filial “ homage ” (vassalagem) of faith, love and trust – to solemnly consecrate the Portuguese nation to Your Immaculate Heart. Take it from our fragile hands into Your own ; defend it and guard it as Your own property ; make Jesus reign, conquer and rule in it. Outside of Him there is no salvation. »
What plenitude of meaning in these words ! What greatness, what emotion, but also what supernatural clairvoyance regarding the grave perils which were imminent ! For the Cardinal continues, alluding to recent events in Spain : the fall of Primo de Rivera in January 1930, the end of the monarchy and exile of Alphonsus XIII on April 14, 1931, the proclamation of the Republic, the riots and burning of churches and convents… This tempest which suddenly came to menace the whole Iberian peninsula gave a dramatic tonality to the consecration of the little country of Portugal to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary had indeed been its ultimate recourse, its rampart, faced with a terrible danger of Bolshevik contamination. The Patriarch continued :
« We, the pontiffs of your people, feel a terrible storm raging around us, threatening to disperse and destroy the faithful flock of those who bless You because You are the Mother of Jesus. Afflicted, we stretch out our suppliant hands towards Your Son, as we cry out : “ Save us, O Lord, for we perish ! ”…
« Intercede for Portugal, O Our Lady, in this grave hour when from the East blow furious winds, bringing cries of death against Your Son and against the civilisation founded on His teachings, deceiving minds, perverting hearts, and lighting the fires of hatred and revolution in the world. Help of Christians, pray for us ! »
After this allusion to Bolshevik Russia, its errors, and the wars and persecutions it stirs up everywhere, the Cardinal alluded to the danger of another formidable contamination, in this decadent post-war Europe : the easygoing, immoral, hedonistic life which draws down divine chastisements on societies :
« Intercede for Portugal, Our Lady, in this troubled hour when the unclean waves of an open immorality, which has even lost the notion of sin, exalt the rehabilitation of the flesh in the face of the very Cross of Your Son, threatening to choke in this world the lily of virtue nourished by the Eucharistic Blood of Jesus. Virgin most Powerful, pray for us ! »
Granted, as Father Alonso correctly wrote, Portugal « since Salazar’s arrival in power, was steadily and confidently walking along new paths of prosperity and peace ». 34 For his conclusion, the Cardinal expresses his anxiety just as distinctly. He realised how fragile this wonderful interior peace still was, he knew that it was a gift of God, a grace of Our Lady which must be continually merited by urgent supplications :
« Intercede for Portugal, Our Lady, in this hour of passions and doubts when even the good run the risk of being lost… Unite all the Portuguese people around Your Son, in the love of the Church and also in the cultivation of virtue, in respect for order and fraternal charity. Queen of Peace, pray for us !
« Remember finally, Patroness of our country, that Portugal once taught so many lands to proclaim You blessed among all women. In remembrance of what it once did for Your glory, Our Lady of Fatima, save it, by giving it Jesus, in Whom it will find Truth, Life, and Peace ! » 35
This solemn act of all the bishops. in which the crowds of the faithful participated so fervently by their prayers and penances, drew down a new shower of graces upon Portugal. Or rather, it multiplied the blessings which the most kind Virgin had begun to shower upon Her people since 1917. In response to this public devotion of the bishops to Her Immaculate Heart which corresponded so exactly with Her requests, Our Lady of Fatima could fully actualise and accomplish, in favour of Her nation which was consecrated to Her, a genuine and threefold miracle which we will now describe.
THE DIOCESAN INVESTIGATION OF FATIMA
We have described how, thanks to the efforts of Canon Formigao, Bishop da Silva finally decided to open a canonical inquiry on the apparitions of Fatima. 1
Following the example of the Bishop of Tarbes in 1858, he conducted it in a solemn manner, publishing on May 3, 1922, the “ Provisao ” : Entre todas as provas, naming the members of the commission of inquiry.
« By reason of what we have just set forth (he declared), it seems to us our duty to study this case and have it studied, and to organise the process according to canonical laws. For this purpose we name the following commission… » 2
Father Alonso, whose exhaustive study we will follow step by step, 3 believes that the commission actually named was the best that could be formed at that time. It included Canon Formigao, the first investigator and first historian of the apparitions, Father Joao Quaresma, Vicar General of the diocese, and Fathers Manuel Marques dos Santos and Pereira da Silva, both professors at the seminary. As for the other members, they were the parish priests and deans from the area of Fatima, so as to get the most reliable information from direct witnesses : the parish priest of Fatima and the dean of Olival, and the parish priests of Batalha and S. Catarina da Serra.
Father Alonso writes : « from this commission one could expect a work well done, and without great difficulty. With the exception of Doctor Formigao, the members were relatively near each other, and moreover they had frequent pastoral contacts. For his part, Doctor Formigao, who came to Fatima during all the pilgrimages, would be welcomed with the warmest good will to the works of the study and discussion sessions. »
THE DEFICIENCIES OF THE DIOCESAN INQUIRY
« In spite of this, one must record a lamentable fact, clearly affirmed by the last survivor of this commission, Dr. Marques dos Santos : the work of the commission was too slow, and spaced out over too long a time…
« There was not even a single study session whose minutes are available ; properly speaking the commission did not organise any dossier, and it met only at the end, on April 13 and 14, 1930, in a single session during which the report, written exclusively by Doctor Formigao, was read and unanimously approved. »
Why this disappointing inactivity ? Father Alonso exposes the reasons. A postulator would have had to be named, with the duty of animating the process and keeping it going. Only Canon Formigao could have played this role. « We know from his letter of April 20, 1922, that he was ready to abandon his important occupations at Lisbon and Santarem to devote his full time to the process. Why didn’t Bishop da Silva see that this was absolutely necessary for the process to preserve the desired rhythm and tone ?… The other members undoubtedly possessed the qualities needed to contribute to the process, but precisely because Canon Formigao had a sort of monopoly on the knowledge of the facts of Fatima, this paralyzed all action that might have been attempted when he was not present…
« The other deficiencies of the process are the consequence of this lack of effective constitution of the commission. Also, there was no study and discussion session. In number and quality, the official interrogations were very feeble in comparison with the possibilities Fatima offered then, possibilities which are now lost forever…
« When the commission was named in May, 1922, the wonderful healings at Fatima were an obvious fact, on everybody’s lips. Formigao collected them in his first book. However, no expert research has been done on that subject. Nor was any sort of sub-commission named to work in the company of the experts. » No real study of the healings was made. That is a shame !
« Everything was left to the improvisation of the moment », Father Alonso continues, visibly inconsolable over such negligence. « It seems that in addition to the apparitions, Our Lady was expected to do the investigation also ! This seems to be the meaning of certain phrases attributed to Bishop da Silva. In any case, what was done was due solely to the initiative and activity of Doctor Formigao. The bishop himself, whom we have seen all these years filled with a vigilant attention for developing devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, did not seem to have any interest in the process.
« Thus time was merrily allowed to pass by, and witnesses slowly disappeared… Facts and circumstances which today are so difficult to re-establish could have been reconstructed very easily by methodical work from the commission. And we would have had a wonderful history of Fatima, which we could have followed like a detailed chronicle of society.
« All these defects should not have existed in the process of apparitions so stupefying, so close to our time, so clear and even evident, with a multitude of witnesses so qualified by their presence, their social position and their psychological objectivity… » Indeed Father Alonso, who speaks here as a historian, is a hundred times correct ! A well conducted canonical inquiry could have been able to furnish us with all the material for a fully scientific and exhaustive history of the events of Fatima.
A SURE AND WELL-FOUNDED JUDGMENT
However, and this is the very firm conclusion of Father Alonso himself, the canonical process such as it was, in spite of its omissions and deficiencies, conserves its whole value as a sufficiently ample inquiry which permitted the hierarchical authority to affirm solemnly, and with full knowledge of the case, the authenticity of the apparitions. « The documents which it utilised – which of course could have been infinitely more numerous in proofs, testimony and interrogations – are nevertheless so abundant and above all so objectively important, that they can lead the most rigorous historical criticism to make a well-founded judgment… »
From this point of view, the inquiry corresponded perfectly with the exigencies laid down by the bishop in the Provisao of May 3, 1922. The Bishop of Leiria concluded :
« The Church thirsts for the truth. This is why, if the events which took place at Fatima and are presented as supernatural are true, then we thank Our Lord. It will increase our faith and improve our morals ; if they are false, it is fitting that their falsity be discovered…
« We order all the faithful of our diocese (canons 2023 and 2025) and we ask those of other dioceses to give an account of everything they know either in favour of or against the apparitions or extraordinary facts… and that they testify especially if, in these facts, there was or is some machination, superstition, some doctrine or anything contrary to our holy religion.
« Each member of the commission is authorised to receive the names of those who must or would like to testify ; they will be convoked in good and due form. »
Precisely because there was no serious opposition against the apparitions, because the striking signs were innumerable and unanimously observed by all, it had seemed unnecessary to constitute an exhaustive dossier on the events. The deficiencies of the canonical process, regrettable in themselves, thus indirectly bear witness to the unquestionable truth of the apparitions.
THE MIRACULOUS HEALINGS
After June 13, 1917, during each of Her apparitions, Lucy passed on to Our Lady numerous requests for healings. « I will heal some of them, others no… Some of them I will heal », Our Lady answered.
From that moment on, She kept Her promises, and how generously ! Very many extraordinary healings contributed to drawing pilgrims to the Cova da Iria. The first case Canon Formigao could investigate was that of Maria do Carmo. She was in the final stages of tuberculosis, and her condition grew worse from day to day. « She has no more than fifteen days to live ! » the doctor had declared in July of 1917. She then promised to go on foot to Fatima on the thirteenth of each month to implore her own healing. From her village of Maceira (near Leiria) to the Cova da Iria, it was twenty-one miles. With a heroic courage, in spite of her extreme exhaustion, she managed to go there on August 13, and again on September 13, and she began to feel better. On October 13, she went there again, under the pouring rain. At the moment of the apparition she felt completely healed. Although her healing was not as sudden as is required by the laws of discernment of a miracle set down by Benedict XIV, her healing was perfect and definitive. 1
In 1923, in his small work, Os acontecimentos de Fatima, Canon Formigao already cites by name twenty-four cases of wonderful healings from 1917 to 1922. In 1927, the entire third part (pp. 301-394) of his great work, As maravilhas de Fatima, was devoted to “ extraordinary healings ”. From 1922 to 1942, the “ Voice of Fatima ” related more than eight hundred cases of healings. Some of them were so unquestionable that Bishop da Silva mentioned them in his letter, A divina Providencia, among the miracles which prove the authenticity of the apparitions.
THE SERVICE OF ASSISTANCE TO THE SICK
At Fatima, however, there existed no “ bureau of medical evidence ” comparable to the one at Lourdes. Dr. Pereira Gens, who founded and directed for a very long time the “ Service of assistance to the sick ”, explained in 1958 the reasons for this omission : « Very curiously, our primary and most considerable task, which took up the majority of our time and the most “ personal ”, if I can say so, is to care for the thousands of feet which were skinned and often seriously wounded. Innumerable are the pilgrims who take off their shoes, to walk barefoot the strip of over twelve miles that separates the nearest train station from the Cova da Iria. More numerous perhaps are those who come by automobile, and voluntarily stop their automobiles twelve, eighteen, or even twenty-five miles away to cover the distance barefoot.
Granted, the roads leading to Fatima have improved in recent years. And although the peasants’ feet, used to treading on bad roads from their earliest childhood, do not suffer too much from this trial, the same can hardly be said for the inhabitants of Porto, Lisbon, Evora or Coimbra.
« We have to struggle against infection, which is always possible, to close wounds which often are gaping, to make dressings for them, to break their blisters…
« As for the sick, properly speaking, there are about three to six hundred of these each month. And this in the space of a few hours ! There are never enough of us to handle them. Add to this that the Portuguese people do not like very much… to go to the doctor ; that the majority of these sick people have never even gone for a consultation, that therefore they are ignorant of the malady they are suffering from, and you will understand how delicate our situation is when we are asked about the healings taking place at the Cova. It is not even humanly possible for us to make each sick person undergo a clinical examination which would allow us to establish a formal diagnosis. » 2
Among the numerous cases of extraordinary healings mentioned by the pilgrims, usually the non-existence or insufficiency of an initial diagnosis makes official recognition of the miracle impossible.
However, in his book, Miracles à Fatima, Michel Agnellet presents twenty of the most diverse cases, for which we have available a solid medical dossier. Are examples needed ?
« The healing of Miss Maria Augusta Dias, which took place on February 4, 1929, is particularly interesting (our author writes) in the sense that the greatest specialists of ophthalmology looked into her case, examined her, delivered detailed medical certificates, all concluding in the same sense ; which really leaves no doubt about the causes and development of the sickness. The unanimous conclusion of these doctors is the following : Miss Dias is incurable. Her optic nerves are atrophied, she cannot see and will never see again. Yet, bathing her eyes three times in Fatima water instantaneously gave her perfectly normal vision ! » 3
Let us cite one more absolutely stupefying case, that of Margarida de Jesus Rebelo, healed on May 13, 1944. At the request of the Bishop of Guarda, her healing was made the object of a veritable thesis, published under the title : Brilhante Milagre em Fatima. 4
It was a case of Pott’s disease, in full bloom, attached to the spinal cord, that was confirmed by X-rays. In addition there was, near the kidney, an open, infected channel coming from an internal abscess (a fistula) which needed permanent drainage. And what happened ? The patient who was totally paralyzed was instantly healed at the moment of Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament. All at once the symptoms of her sickness disappeared. She was able to get up, walk and feed herself. « All her functions were restored and the fistula, which had been secreting tubercular pus an hour before, disappeared ; it had instantly closed up, leaving in its place clear, smooth skin. » 5
THE MIRACLES AND THEIR SCIENTIFIC CONFIRMATION
In conclusion, let us quote an important note of Canon Barthas, published by Father Alonso : « For the sake of completeness, I must add that the holy Bishop of Leiria, Msgr. José da Silva, was not at all in favour of an official bureau for medical evidence. He did not see the need for it. He told me one day : “ These brave people leave healed by Our Lady ; they do not ask for anything else ; nor does Our Lady. Why bother them with these interrogations, inquiries, etc ? ” » 6 Regrettable negligence or supernatural wisdom ? It is not for us to decide.
In any case, this absence of a service at Fatima capable of scientifically verifying miraculous healings from both a medical and canonical point of view, does not give us the right to ignore the fact that the healings were very numerous in the beginning. Although the majority of accounts reported in the “ Voice of Fatima ” since 1922 do not furnish material for a rigorous scientific demonstration for lack of sufficient medical dossiers, they nevertheless keep their value as precise testimony which, being published in a review with a circulation of three hundred thousand copies, could be verified by anyone who desired. And this guarantee is not negligible, for in many cases those who were close to the sick person were perfectly able to recognise an authentic, miraculous healing. If scientific demonstration proves the miracle, the impossibility of establishing it because of chance causes is not enough to deny the reality. 7
(1) Cf. the excellent article by M.L. Lède : “ Comment Salazar fut appelé au pouvoir. ” Écrits de Paris, Sept. 1967, p. 66.
(2) “ Notre-Dame dans la piété populaire portugaise ”, p. 630. In Maria, Études sur la Vierge Marie, Vol. IV, Beauchesne, 1956.
(3) Quoted by Jacques Ploncard d’Assac, Salazar, p, 44. Dominique Martin Morin, 1983 (First Edition, La Table Ronde, 1967).
(4) Father José de Oliveira Dias, op. cit., p. 630.
(5) Op. cit., p. 52.
(6) Les Dictateurs, p. 262, Denoel, 1935.
(7) Cf. Paul Sérant, Salazar et son temps, p. 39. Éd. “ Les sept couleurs ”, 1961.
In fact, a text of the parish priest, Father Ferreira, dated August 6, 1918, indicates to us that the work began at that time. It was an erroneous interpretation of this document, sent to the patriarchate on April 18, 1919, that provoked the confusion (cf. Martins dos Reis, “ Sintese ”, Apêndice Documental fotográfico; Francisco Pereira de Oliveira, Para a historia da urbanizacâo da Cova da Iria, p. 14-15 & 22, in Fatima 50, February 13, 1970. Cf. also : P.H. Netter, Fatima Chronik, p. 24; Leiria, 1970).
(8) Whether one consults Father da Fonseca, Canon Galamba, Father Castelbranco, Costa Brochado, Father Martins dos Reis, or many others, right up to Father Alonso, all are in agreement on this point.
It is sad to see how good Canon Barthas in later editions, so as not to arouse the prejudices of his French readership, felt obliged to water down more and more his praise of Salazar’s work, which was inseparable from the great Portuguese religious renewal. As for Dom Jean-Nesmy, he completely passes over in silence this political aspect of the event of Fatima.
(9) Ploncard d’Assac, Salazar, p. 20.
(10) Having become Patriarch of Lisbon, the latter described the beginning of their long, unfailing friendship in this way : « We knew each other from the School of Law when, having already been ordained a priest (since 1911), I took my theology courses at the same time. But Salazar and myself, united by a paternal friendship, had decided to live “ en république ”, as we used to say here, meaning in community, sharing the household expenses between us. We lived together from 1915 to 1928 at Rua dos Grilos, in an old palace dating back to Pombal’s time. Maria did the cooking for us. » (J. Ploncard d’Assac, p. 30.)
(11) Concerning the CADC, see the note by Metzner Leone in Fatima, os testemunhos, by Barthas, Aster 1965.
(12) Louis Mégevand, Le vrai Salazar, p. 72-73 and 190. NEL, 1958.
(13) The figures can be consulted, for example in Mégevand, op. cit., p. 74-80.
(14) Ploncard d’Assac, Salazar, p. 64-65. Second Edition Dominique Martin Morin, 1980. First Edition, La Table Ronde, 1967.
(15) A photograph can be seen at Fatima, in the museum of the vice-postulation, depicting General Carmona coming out of the new hospital in the company of Bishop da Silva.
(16) For a long time, the events at the Cova da Iria left him indifferent and sceptical. On this point we have the invaluable testimony of Dr. Lisboa, in his report on the final days of Jacinta’s death. He relates the following very significant anecdote
« The very day of Jacinta’s funeral, there was a General Assembly of conferences of Saint Vincent de Paul, at which I had to be present. At the following Assembly, I felt bound to justify my absence from the preceding Assembly by saying that a work of mercy had prevented me from being present, and I explained that I had had to take care of the funeral of one of the Fatima seers. This declaration provoked an almost unanimous burst of laughter from those who were present, including, naturally, important figures from Catholic circles in the patriarchate
« His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch, Dom Antonio Mendes Belo, who was presiding over the Assembly, joined in this burst of laughter… It is true that later on His Eminence declared to me his admiration for Fatima, and he told me of his desire not to die before being able to celebrate Mass at the altar of the Basilica being built at the Cova da Iria. » (Quoted by De Marchi, p. 289-290.)
The old Cardinal died on August 4, 1929, at the age of eighty-seven, before having the opportunity to manifest publicly his conversion to the cause of Fatima.
(17) Fatima 1917-1968, p. 179.
(18) On these visits by bishops, see Fatima 1917-1968, p. 262-263 and De Marchi, p. 316-317.
(19) Since May 12, 1964, a shorter and more frequented Way of the Cross, the stations of which were offered by Hungarian exiles, furrows the picturesque hill separating the Cova da Iria from Aljustrel. This is “ the sacred way of Cardinal Mindszenty ”, with a monumental calvary and a chapel dedicated to Saint Stephen, King of Hungary, at its twelfth station.
(20) Quoted by Barthas, Merv. In., p. 312-315.
(21) Rolim, Francisco, Florinhas de Fatima, p. 427, Third Edition, 1947; cf. Pio XI e Fatima, by P. Cristino in Voz da Fatima, March 1985, p. 1-2.
(22) Ét. An., p. 27-28. Barthas adds that on March 25, 1931, Bishop Frutuoso went to Fatima accompanied by all his seminarians, and he was the first bishop to celebrate Mass there pontifically.
(23) H. Netter, S.V.D., Fatima Chronik, p. 34. Cf. Merv. In., p. 105.
(24) Cf. Rolim, Francisco, p. 428.
(25) Letter of Canon Barthas to Father Alonso, June 1, 1967, quoted in Eph. Mar., 1969, p. 298. Cf. Castelbranco, p. 130.
(26) The text of the pastoral letter is found almost in its entirety in Documentos, p. 517-522.
(27) « 1. An indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines to all the faithful each time that, contrite for their faults, they visit the sanctuary of Fatima and pray there for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff ;
« 2. A plenary indulgence once a month – on the usual conditions – to pilgrims in a group who pray for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff.
« Earlier, the Holy Father had granted 300 days indulgence to the invocation : “ Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, pray for us. ” » Cf. Rolim, p. 429.
(28) In effect, Father Cerejeira, who since 1919 was Professor of History at Coimbra, had been appointed auxiliary Bishop of Lisbon on March 23, 1928. On November 18 he had been chosen as patriarch to succeed Cardinal Mendes Belo. (cf. Alonso, O Dr. Formigao, p. 46.)
A man of exceptional calibre, the young bishop, named a Cardinal on December 16, 1929, quickly became the undisputed spiritual guide of the entire Portuguese episcopate. Suspicious and reserved at first, he soon became the ardent propagator of devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. In addition, being a spiritual son of Father Mateo Crawley since the missionary’s first sojourn in Portugal in 1927-1928, the Cardinal was very devoted to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to which he had consecrated his diocese on June 1, 1930. (Cf. Father Marcel Bocquet, Père Mateo, apôtre mondial du Sacré Coeur, p. 165. Téqui 1963; and Cardinal Cerejeira, Obras Pastorais, Vol. 1, p. 287.)
From now on, each within his own sphere and in the most scrupulous distinction of powers – to the point of reducing their meetings to a minimum so as to manifest this independence – the two friends from Coimbra, Salazar and Cerejeira, who were both called to the highest offices in 1928 and accepted them on the advice of Father Mateo – were to be for forty years the providential artisans of Portugal’s religious and national renaissance.
(29) FER, p. 31 and 93.
(30) « There was no direct or indirect intervention of Lucy in this », the Cardinal declared later on (preface to FDM, of Canon Barthas, p. 9).
(31) Cf. above, p. 256-259.
(32) Let us point out that it was Father Mateo who was behind the national consecration to the Sacred Heart. He requested this of the bishops after his stay in Portugal from November 1927 to July 1928. (Cf. Father Marcel Bocquet, Père Mateo, p. 164-167.)
In the collection of his sermons entitled Jesus, the King of Love, published in 1928, he expressed his ardent desire to see the Pope consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During the retreat he preached to the Portuguese bishops in January of 1931, he could only encourage them to accomplish the consecration of their country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We know that he remained in Portugal until August 1931, but his biographer doesn’t tell us whether he came to Fatima for the great pilgrimage of May 13.
(33) Voz da Fatima, No. 104; Merv. In., p. 305.
(34) FER, p. 93.
(35) Obras Pastorais, Vol, I, p. 289-292. Excerpts can be found in Merv. In., p. 305-306.
(1) Cf. supra, p. 358-359.
(2) The text of this Provisao is quoted by Barthas, Merv. In., p. 301-303.
(3) “ Fatima, Proceso Diocesano, Estudios y Textos criticos ”, Eph. Mar. 1969, p. 279-340, All the quotations in our exposition are excerpted from this long study, which they sum up. Let us point out that Father Kondor has begun the publication of this critical study in his bulletin, Les voyantes de Fatima, (January-April and May-August, 1983).
(1) Michel Agnellet, in Miracles à Fatima, describes at length the inquiry conducted by Canon Formigao in September, 1918, p. 125-133. Éd de Trévise, 1958. John Haffert reports another case of healing which took place on this same October 13, 1917 (cf. Fatima 1917-1968, p. 359).
(2) Agnellet, op. cit., p. 116-117. Cf. Fatima 1917-1968, p. 297-301.
(3) P. 171-175.
(4) Dr. Mendes do Carmo, Uniao Grafica, Lisbon, 1945.
(5) Agnellet, p. 203. For the analysis of the case, p. 122 and 197-204.
(6) Proceso Diocesano, Eph. Mar., 1969, p. 334.
(7) This is so true that one may fruitfully consult the expositions of Barthas, Merv. In., p. 211-230; of Father G. da Fonseca, Nossa Senhora de Fatima, p. 229-264. Cf. also the testimony of José Alves (quoted above, p. 356-357) and Maria da Capelinha, De Marchi, p. 309-310.