My Marian journey began in 1960 when the Catholic world was waiting for Pope John XXIII to reveal the third secret of Fatima. Now, as we approach the third millennium, there is again an eager anticipation among God s people of an imminent theophany when God will manifest His presence to save His people. The present Holy Father, in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, expressed this sentiment when he said that, as we end this century, Our Lady’s words to the children of Fatima seem close to their fulfillment. The victory, he said, when it comes, shall be brought by Mary.
His elaborate preparation for the Great Jubilee Year that he called the hermeneutical key and the defining point of his pontificate is without doubt in anticipation of this victory.
FATIMA: Its Prophetic Force into the Third Millennium
In 1981 while I was researching the Fatima message, I came across a commemorative message broadcast over Vatican Radio. In part, it said: “Neither Pope John XXIII, nor Pope Paul VI, considered advisable to reveal to the world the third part of the Secret of Fatima. However, there is a certainty that the third part of the Secret contains a particular gravity, confirmed by the tragic reality that the entire world is living today Have we reached the fullness of times? Are we living the beginning of the Apocalypse prophesied by St. John? The time has come when words are not enough anymore. It is now necessary to act immediately if we wish that humanity, that each of us, may be able to see, besides the fire, the light.”
I sensed that the Holy See was issuing a wake-up call. This reference to fire and apocalyptic times from the authoritative and conservative Vatican Radio must have a special meaning. All doubt disappeared when the news was flashed on television that Pope John Paul II was shot by an assassin. The day was May 13th, the anniversary of Fatima. I knew in my heart that this was not a coincidence and that we are to see the Fatima message fulfilled in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. How I wished then that I could meet him face to face and talk to him about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Two years later, Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., a freedom fighter, was assassinated as he came home from exile. The nation mourned his death; two million Filipinos marched in his funeral. The country was in turmoil and the Philippine Bishops turned to Mary for help as they declared a Marian Year to commemorate her anniversary in 1985. Five million Filipinos pledged to pray her Rosary daily, praying for liberation and salvation. Elections were held but the Catholic Bishops Conference, unprecedented in the history of the universal Church, declared the proceedings fraudulent. Amidst dramatic events led by the people and the power of prayer, the dictator fled and Maria Corazon Aquino took her oath as the seventh President of the Third Philippine Republic. The day was February 25, 1986, the feast of Our Lady of Victory. On May 13th, the anniversary of Fatima, the new President called me and asked if I could be her Ambassador to the Holy See. I knew then that I was on a mission for Our Lady but I did not know what the mission was.
I presented my credentials to the Holy Father on the eve of Our Lady’s birthday, and after the ceremonial exchange of formal messages, His Holiness invited me to his study for a private conversation that lasted forty-five minutes. My desire to interview the Holy Father, made five years ago, was granted by Our Lady in a grand manner beyond my dreams. I related to the Holy Father how our democracy was restored with Our Lady’s intercession at the end of the Philippine Marian Year. His Holiness listened attentively, nodded and repeated the words “Marian Year.” He then explained to me how Our Lady of Fatima saved his life in 1981. He said that, by an act of divine providence, the bullet that struck him missed his vital organs and he had sent this bullet to Fatima to be imbedded in the crown of Our Lady.
Imagine my amazement during the Pontifical Mass on New Year’s Day at St. Peter’s Cathedral when the Holy Father announced a Marian Year for the universal Church. The next day, L’Osservatore Romano reported that the Holy Father was inspired by the events of the Philippines during the Marian Year. Our Lady had accomplished my mission, which was kept secret from me.