If you’ve not yet looked into the Fatima apparitions during which the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three Portuguese children, it’s time. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the miraculous appearances at Fatima, and the message each bore is vital for all people today and into the future.
Author Jean M. Heimann has written a marvelous book that documents the apparitions, their messages, meaning, and impact on the Church. In Fatima: The Apparition that Changed the World (Tan Books, 2017), she describes the Fatima happenings in colorful detail and shares many little-known facts about Fatima, including saints and popes who have been deeply influenced by it plus much more.
Consider her telling of the “Miracle of the Sun” on October 13, 1917, when more than 100,000 people watched the sun literally dance in the sky:
Meanwhile, the crowd had stood up and looked at the sky, entranced
by an amazing array of visions. The clouds parted, exposing the sun as
an enormous silver disc, shining with extreme intensity. Then, the huge
disk started to “dance.” The sun spun swiftly like a revolving ball of fire.
Then it stopped abruptly for a moment, only to start spinning again.
Its outer edges turned scarlet red; spinning, it scattered its fiery flames
across the sky. The reflection of the flames changed the colors of everything
around them—the trees, the people, the earth, and even the air.
Shimmering shades of yellow, blue, and white colors painted the environment.
Finally, the ball of fire trembled, shook, and then plunged in a
zigzag pattern toward the terrified crowd. Fearing that this was the end
of the world, the people dropped to their knees and cried out in unison,
weeping and praying, begging God to have mercy on them.
All this lasted about ten minutes. Finally, the sun zigzagged back to
its original spot in the sky and returned to normal. Surprisingly, people
noticed that their clothes, soaking wet from the rain, had dried. The
miracle of the sun was also seen by several witnesses up to twenty-five
miles away from the apparition site.
Not only are Heimann’s words compelling, but also are the artwork and real-life photos included in the book. Additionally, there are descriptions and formulas for the prayers and devotions that Our Lady taught to the children – Lucia, Jacinta, and Francesco – and requires of all of us.
Heimann graciously granted me an interview, and the Q&A is below. Enjoy!
Q: Tell us about your new book, Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World.
A: Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World (Tan Books, 2017) is the true story of three shepherd children who, in 1917, had visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the mountain village of Fatima, Portugal and met with her on six different occasions. Our Lady asked them to pray the Rosary daily and to offer penances and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and for world peace.
In my book, I present a comprehensive look at the Fatima apparitions; offering a chronological timeline, describing each of the apparitions in detail, tracing the lives of the three visionaries as well as the death and beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and revealing the ongoing message of Fatima for the past one hundred years. I also share a history of the various popes from 1917 to the present and describe their relationship with Fatima as well as some of the modern day miracles that have happened since then. In addition, I explain why the Fatima message is relevant to us today and how we can put it into practice.
Q: What prompted the writing of Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World?
A: I made my consecration to Jesus through Mary about twenty years ago. I was just beginning to grow in Marian devotion at that time, although when I was a child, we prayed the Rosary daily and my mother was always turning to her heavenly Mother in time of trial. The Brothers of St. John attracted me to their community through the Marian consecration via the St. Louis de Montfort method which they taught in a group setting, providing spiritual guidance. I was then drawn to become an oblate with the Community of St. John in Princeville, Illinois and to entrust my life even deeper to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
As a child, I grew up in a small French-Canadian town in northeastern IL and was well-acquainted with Our Lady of Lourdes. Every day after school I visited the Lourdes grotto behind our parish church and prayed there, sharing my concerns with the Blessed Mother. I learned about the Fatima apparitions, but they did not stick with me the way the apparitions at Lourdes did. I do, however, remember watching the 1952 movie The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, which left an impression on me.
As an adult, I became re-acquainted with Fatima by watching EWTN. I decided to join the Blue Army and through this organization began practicing the First Saturday devotions and praying the Rosary daily. About a year ago, I realized that 2017 would be the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions and thought that this would be an interesting topic to write about. Last fall, I founded the Our Lady of Fatima Rosary and Study Group in my parish and we began meeting in my home, where we studied the Fatima apparitions and prayed the Rosary.
Q: What did you learn from writing this book?
A: I learned what a powerful apparition Fatima is! The conversion of the world and world peace are dependent on our fidelity to its prayers and devotions. It is through devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Immaculate Heart as well as through the recitation of the Rosary that we will experience an end to the culture of death and obtain world peace. Pope St. John Paul II has stated that the message of Fatima is even more relevant today than when it was first given to the visionaries in 1917. I also learned about the details of the wonderful miracles that have taken place in connection with Fatima since the initial apparitions in 1917.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
A: I enjoyed using my imagination and my five senses in depicting the apparitions. I enjoyed viewing things from the vantage point of the children, the Angel of Peace, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the other characters in the book. For example, I loved writing about the spectacular miracle of the sun, describing the wide array of colors of the sun and the earth, how the sun was seen as a silver disc and began spinning around. I imagined how beautiful and frightening it must have been at the same. In my mind’s eye, I put myself in that crowd of spectators, watching the sun fall from the sky, fearing that this was the end of the world, hearing those around me confessing their sins aloud and begging for mercy.
Q: Who is the target audience for your book?
I wrote this book for adolescents and adults, both Catholic and non-Catholics who want to learn more about the Fatima apparitions, put its message into practice, and have a beautiful family keepsake to treasure for years to come in honor of the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions.
Q: Why would readers want to purchase this book? What does it have to offer them? How can it help them?
A: This book helps the reader learn to live the message of Fatima: prayer, penance, and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It draws everyone who peruses it into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Mother of God and helps them perform a crucial role in changing the world from a culture of death into a culture of life.