What’s the story with CATHOLICS and the belief that global pandemics and wars are SENT BY GOD as a PUNISHMENT FOR SIN, for a WORLD TURNING AWAY FROM GOD?

Almost exactly a century ago and three years into the First World War, three children in rural Fatima, Portugal, claimed that Mary, the Mother of God, appeared to them in 1917 in visions on the 13th of each month for six months, beginning in May.

The Fatima seers: Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta

Following various visions, the children reported the woman as declaring:

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.

The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!”




[The year following the “night illumined by an unknown light” in 1938 saw the outbreak of the Second World War – according to the Fatima apparitions – “to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and the Holy Father.”]

The apparition claiming to be Mary, Mother of God, told the children she would offer a miracle [to prove that she had been sent by God] on the occasion of the last of her appearances on October 13, 1917 – in front of tens of thousands of people who had come to witness what turned out to be “the miracle of the sun”.

The crowds of expectant onlookers were soaked through by days of rain and were standing in a sea of mud.

During the miracle, thousands of people witnessed the sun spinning and moving in the sky in kaleidoscopic explosions of colors, appearing to rush toward earth in a manner that was a marvel to many but that terrified many others, causing screams of terror – many of these people said later that they thought they were witnessing the end of the world.

Tens of thousands stare at the sun, Fatima, October 1917

Inexplicably, after the miracle, the people’s clothes and the sea of mud were totally dry.

Onlookers stare at the “miracle of the sun”, Fatima, 1917

Following the assassination of Portugal’s King Carlos and his son and heir Luis Filipe in 1908, a republican revolution in 1910 had occurred in Portugal which ushered in a virulently anti-clerical and anti-religious period during which newspapers mirrored the revolutionaries’ opposition to Catholicism.

Front page of “O Século” [“The Century”], Monday October 15, 1917
The miracle of the sun – witnessed up to 25 miles away from Fatima – was accurately reported by even the highly sceptical secular newspapers in Lisbon the next day.

“O Século” [“The Century”], Portugal’s most widely circulated and pro-government newspaper, reported on its front page:

Amazing things! How the sun danced at midday in Fatima.’

Amazing Things! How the sun danced at midday in Fatima

Its journalist, Avelino de Almeida, who had been satirizing events in Fatima for some months, reported:

“From the road, where the vehicles were parked and where hundreds of people who had not dared to brave the mud were congregated, one could see the immense multitude turn toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith.

It looked like a plaque of dull silver, and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up, and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!”

Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws—the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.”

Another Lisbon newspaper, “O Dia” [‘The Day’] reported in its October 17 edition:

“At one o’clock in the afternoon, midday by the sun, the rain stopped. The sky, pearly grey in colour, illuminated the vast arid landscape with a strange light. The sun had a transparent gauzy veil so that the eyes could easily be fixed upon it. The grey mother-of-pearl tone turned into a sheet of silver which broke up as the clouds were torn apart and the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and people fell on their knees on the muddy ground.

The silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds… The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands… people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.”

Writing for the newspaper ‘Ordem’ [‘Order’], Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho reported:

“The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceedingly swift and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat.”

After 13 years of investigations, the Catholic church on October 13, 1930 (on the 13th anniversary of the final apparition) approved the Fatima apparitions of Mary, the Mother of God.

What of the Lady’s prediction of a “night illumined by an unknown light” ushering in “a worse war” to “to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and the Holy Father”?

On the night of January 25th, 1938, there was an unprecedented display of light and colour seen across the world and as far south as Gibraltar and Bermuda.

The New York Times reports on the night of strange lights

Within 6 weeks of the January 1938 light show, Hitler annexed Austria in a military invasion known as the ‘Anschluss’.

Night of Lights, January 25, 1938


While very many Catholic priests are allergic to the mention of Fatima – those who utterly reject the concepts of ‘hell’, ‘punishment’, ‘fear of the Lord’ and even of ‘sin’ and ‘repentance’ – the Popes have been believers.

Pope Pius XII (1939-58),  who was known as ‘the Pope of Fatima’, claimed that ‘the miracle of the sun’ appeared to him a number of times.

Pope Pius XII and ‘the miracle of the sun’

When Polish Pope John Paul II was shot and almost killed by Turkish “Grey Wolves” assassin Mehmet Ali Agca on May 13, 1981, (May 13 – anniversary of the first Fatima apparition) the Pope attributed his survival to the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima, to whom he was devoted.

The moment Pope John Paul II was shot by Mehmet Ali Agca

When John Paul II recovered, he sent the bullet that almost killed him to Fatima where it was placed in the crown of the Statue of Mary, Our Lady of Fatima.

The bullet that almost killed JPII in the crown of Our Lady of Fatima

At a thanksgiving Mass in Fatima on May 13, 1982, Pope John Paul II said:

“The Church has always taught and continues to proclaim that God’s revelation was brought to completion in Jesus Christ. He is the fullness of that revelation and “no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of Our Lord.”

The Church evaluates and judges private revelations by the criterion of conformity with that single public revelation. If the Church has accepted the message of Fatima, it is above all because that message contains a truth and a call whose basic content is the truth and the call of the Gospel itself.

“Repent, and believe in the Gospel!” These are the first words that the Messiah addressed to humanity.

The Message is addressed to every human being. … Because of the continuing increase of sin and the dangers, such as nuclear war, now threatening humanity, the Message of Fatima is more urgent and relevant in our time than it was when Our Lady appeared 65 years ago.

Today John Paul II, successor of St. Peter, presents himself before the Mother of the Son of God in Her shrine at Fatima. In what way does he come? He presents himself reading again with trepidation the motherly call to penance, to conversion, the ardent appeal of the Heart of Mary that resounded at Fatima 65 years ago. Yes he reads it again with trepidation in his heart because he sees how many people and societies – how many Christians – have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the Message of Fatima.

Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world, and denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas and plans of human beings.”

Even our current Pope Francis – whose pontificate is often debated by conservatives and liberals – was the Pope who “canonized” [declared as saints] two of the young Fatima seers, Francisco and Jacinta on the 100th anniversary of the first Fatima apparitions on May 13, 2017:

Pope Francis canonizes the Fatima seers in May, 2017

So, in answer to the question posed at the beginning of this post, Yes, the Catholic church believes that God sends ‘chastisements’ to punish and instruct humans who have immersed themselves in sin and rejected God.

As our current pandemic continues, look out for more frequent Catholic church references to Fatima and calls to the Virgin Mary to intercede for us all.

In Part II, we will examine a more recent Marian apparition with prophecies of a more startling chastisement.