Sister Lucia, seer of Fatima (left); detail of the sanctuary of Pontevedra (right) / Photo credits: Facebook, Virgin of Fatima / www.santuariodelasapariciones.org
ACI Prensa Staff, Aug 11, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).
The Shrine of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Pontevedra, Spain, is in a dilapidated state. The place where Our Lady called for the first Saturday devotion — to make reparation to her Immaculate Heart on the first Saturday of the month for five consecutive months — needs urgent reconstruction work to avoid total ruin.
“It’s a shame that such a special place is in this state,” said Father Luis Manuel Romero, the delegate of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference for the Shrine of the Apparitions of Pontevedra.
The architects who have planned the restoration project for the shrine said that the wood supporting the roofing has been damaged by fungi and rotting due to humidity and water leaks so “the structure must be changed and waterproofed.”
In addition, in a substructure “the supports on the stone walls are deteriorated,” which is why it “has rained inside the shrine,” the priest lamented.
To address the situation, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference has acquired ownership of the place, which until a year ago was owned by the World Apostolate of Fatima in Spain.
Romero told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, that it is hoped the first phase of the restoration work “will be completed in October.” This includes the most pressing task, which is “to put the new roof on and to redo the floor in the cell of the apparitions.”
“A chapel will be built larger” than the existing one, he said, which will include the cell where one can venerate the exact place where, on Dec. 10, 1925, the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus appeared to Sister Lucía.
Need for financing
The repair project has an estimated cost of about $900,000, of which only about $200,000 has been collected, an amount that won’t cover even the first phase of the work needed to be done. In addition, another $200,000 must be raised to pay for taxes not foreseen in the first estimate.
According to ACI Prensa, if funding is not obtained for this first phase, the project will be terminated.
Currently, funding is being sought through various foundations as well as public institutions such as the regional government of Galicia, but there is also the support of private benefactors.
The majority of the voluntary contributions are being collected through a crowdfunding website for the shrine in Pontevedra, www.santuariodelasapariciones.org, launched by a group of lay people encouraged by Father Javier Siegrist, the pastor of Holy Christ of Mercy parish in Boadilla del Monte in the Diocese of Getafe, Spain.
How the girl Lucía arrived incognito in Spain
The Fatima message was revealed through various apparitions, most of them in Portugal. But not all of the apparitions occurred there.
First, an angel appeared in Aljustrel, Portugal, three times in 1916. Later, the Virgin visited the seers Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucía in the Cova da Iria and Valinhos between May and October 1917.
It was in the apparition of July 13, 1917, that the children were entrusted with the devotion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months.
After the death of Francisco in 1919 and Jacinta in 1920, Lucia came under the protection of the bishop. The Virgin had already announced to her that she would survive the death of her cousins “some time longer” to be an instrument of the Lord.
“Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world,” Our Lady told her in 1917.
All this remained secret until a few years later.
The bishop arranged for Lucía to study at the Sisters of St. Dorothy school in Porto, Portugal, using the name Dolores to conceal her identity. When she turned 18, she sensed a vocation to the Carmelites, but the nuns convinced her to go to their novitiate in Tuy, near Pontevedra, Spain.
The novitiate of the sisters was in Spain due to the anticlerical laws in force in Portugal at the time.
There the sisters discovered that she didn’t have the school certificate, since taking the exam in Porto would have meant revealing who she was. So they couldn’t admit her to be trained as a teacher.
This is the reason why she was sent to Pontevedra to take care of manual tasks. Lucía’s vocation as a Carmelite nun seemed like a distant dream then. It was in that moment of desolation that the Virgin appeared to her with the Child Jesus.
Apparition in Pontevedra
It was Dec. 10, 1925, and Lucía’s cell was illuminated.
“Our Lady, as if wanting to instill courage in me, gently puts her maternal hand on her right shoulder, showing me at the same time her Immaculate Heart that she holds in her other hand, surrounded by thorns,” the visionary related.
At that moment, the Child Jesus spoke and said, “Have compassion on the heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.”
Next, the Virgin urged Lucía to reveal the devotion of the five first Saturdays that had already been communicated to the visionaries in 1917: “Announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.”
Lucía recounted that on Dec. 15, “I hardly even remembered that” and that, while doing her tasks, she met a boy whom she tried to teach the Hail Mary and urged him to go to a nearby chapel to say a short prayer.
Two months later, in February 1926, she met the boy again and asked him if he had asked the Heavenly Mother for Jesus, as she suggested. The boy turned and said, “And have you spread throughout the world what the Heavenly Mother asked you to do?”
Then, at once, Lucía said, the little boy was transformed “into a resplendent Child.”
The Child insisted that the first Saturday devotion be disclosed because “many souls begin them, but few finish them” and only in order to receive the promised graces.
“The souls who make the five first Saturdays with fervor and make reparation to the heart of your Heavenly Mother please me more than those who make 15 but are lukewarm and indifferent,” the Child said.
Sister Lucía told the Child Jesus that many people find it hard to go to confession on Saturdays and asked if it could be done later. The Child Jesus replied, “Yes. It can even be made later on, provided that the souls are in the state of grace when they receive me on the first Saturday and that they have the intention of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Mary.”
All this was revealed by Lucía in 1927, after she went to the tabernacle on Dec. 17 to ask how to reveal this devotion if it was part of the secret.
Lucía recounted that Jesus told her in a clear voice: “My daughter, write what they ask of you; and all that the Most Holy Virgin revealed in the apparition in which she spoke of this devotion, write it also.” The rest should remain secret, he said.
The consecration of Russia
The Shrine of the Apparitions of Pontevedra also contains the altar where Lucía witnessed a vision of the Holy Trinity and received the message in which the Virgin requested the consecration of Russia.
This apparition took place in the city of Tuy on June 13, 1929, where the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Dorothy had been.
Both the apparitions of Pontevedra and Tuy are part of those approved by the Catholic Church regarding the message of Fatima.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.