The Fatima apparition of July 1917 has much significance for today. Many are weakening or have lost faith in the existence of the infinite and just God. Among many there is little or no faith in the reality of hell. Yet, in the July apparitions the three little shepherd children were shown a vision of hell so terrible that Sister Lucia wrote that if they had not been promised they would all go to heaven she thought they would have died on the spot.

God’s mercy is infinite. So is His justice. For God’s infinite mercy through the precious blood of Jesus to avail souls, faith, repentance and openness to his merciful love is required. Otherwise His justice must prevail.

The children beheld countless souls of sinners in hell. Our Lady, who is our Mother of Mercy, kindly but sadly said, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, there will be peace.”

The July apparition with its call to devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary requires living a life of Christian virtue as Mary did. It is most needed today. Obeying the Ten Commandments, receiving the Sacraments worthily and in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart Mary, daily prayer, especially the Rosary; all these are required for living our personal consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

In July, 1917, our Mother of Mercy gave us two prayers to recite:

Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice: “Oh Jesus, this is for love of you, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

When you recite the Rosary, after each mystery say: “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially these who have most need of your mercy.”

Our Lady said that if we do not heed heaven’s call much punishment will befall the world, “war, hunger, and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.” She foretold the importance of First Saturdays along with consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in preventing these things.

The late Fr. Joaquin Maria Alonso, Claretian, official historian of Fatima, told me that the loss of faith was predicted in the Fatima message. “In Portugal the Dogma of Faith will always be preserved… etc. …” This implies “it will be lost in other places.” We now know that the third part of the Fatima secret, told at this time, concerned the many martyrs to the faith, including, according to some interpretations, what happened to Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981.

What is evident is that the full ramifications of the July 13, 1917 message have yet to be seen. The following is that quintessential Marian message, which continues to hold immediate relevance for today. In the words of Sr. Lucia:

A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“Lucia,” Jacinta said, “speak. Our Lady is talking to you.”

(To the Lady): “Yes? What do you want of me?”

“I want you to come back here on the thirteenth of next month. Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.”

“Yes, yes.”

“I would like to ask who you are, and if you will do a miracle so that everyone will know for certain that you have appeared to us.”

“You must come here every month, and in October I will tell you who I am and what I want. I will then perform a miracle so that all may believe…

Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

As Our lady spoke these words she opened her hands once more, as she had during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me do). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellant likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:

“You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. This war will end, but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night that is lit by a strange and unknown light you will know it is the sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world with war and with hunger, and by the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.

To prevent this, I shall come to the world to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world. If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and the world will enjoy a period of peace. In Portugal the faith will always be preserved.

Remember, you must not tell this to anyone except Francisco.

When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.”

“Is there anything more that you want of me?”

“No, I do not want anything more of you today.”

Then as before Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until she finally disappeared in the immense darkness of the firmament.

On May 13, 2000, John Paul II revealed the Third Part of the Secret, again here described by Sr. Lucia:

After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand; pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: “Penance, Penance, Penance!” And we saw in an immense light that is God: “something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it” a Bishop dressed in White “we had the impression that it was the Holy Father.” Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.

Fr. Robert J. Fox is the founder and director of the Fatima Family Apostolate International, the editor of the Immaculate Heart Messenger magazine, and author of over 50 books. He assists daily at Mother Angelica’s Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, Alabama.