Fatima and Mary Co-redemptrix
Dr. Mark Miravalle
In the Church-approved messages of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima, Portugal (1917), the Woman clothed with the sun exhorts the young visionaries and the world to “sacrifice yourselves for sinners” (1) and “to make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended.” (2) It is a call for human coredemption, exemplified by its Queen.
Our Lady invites Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco to a life of coredemption for the salvation of souls: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the suffering He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?” (3) The children faithfully respond to this heavenly invitation to be co-redeemers, “Yes, we are willing.” The Co-redemptrix in turn responds, “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.” (4) It was precisely their heroic fiat to the Fatima call of human coredemption that led to the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco by John Paul II on May 13, 2000. (5)
In the monumental apparition of July 13, 1917, which predicts great upcoming trials and persecutions for the Church and world, and specifically for the Holy Father, (6) Our Lady of Fatima again directs the children to “sacrifice yourselves for sinners” and identifies her own coredemptive mediation and the consistent praying of the Holy Rosary as the only true remedy by which to obtain peace in the world: “. . . Continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace in the world and the ending of the war, because only she can help you.” (7) It is thereby most fitting that she would later appear on October 13, during the historic event of the great solar miracle, under the appearance of Our Lady of Sorrows. (8)
Indeed, human coredemption envelops the July 13 Fatima message, with its call for Christian offering of sacrifice and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In addition, Our Lady of the Rosary predicts an eventual Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the fruit of various levels of human cooperation: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” (9)
A recent book authored by Sr. Lucia undeniably identifies the doctrine of Mary Co-redemptrix as being at the very heart of the Fatima message. In her 1998 work, Calls from the Message of Fatima, she provides an inspired theological and mystical witness to Mary Co-redemptrix and the supernatural effects of the Mother’s providential role for humanity. (10) The theme of Mary Co-redemptrix is the major Mariological thread that runs throughout Sr. Lucia’s extraordinary writings, second only to theme of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (and certainly complementary to it). So instructive and inspiring are her theological meditations on Mary Co-redemptrix that we offer at considerable length her reflections, which so well integrate the title with the overall Fatima call to the contemporary world.
In her treatment on devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, Sr. Lucia acknowledges the unity of the Heart of Mary Co-redemptrix with the Heart of Christ from the Annunciation to Calvary:
God began the work of our redemption in the Heart of Mary, given that it was through her “fiat” that the redemption began to come about: “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.’ (Lk. 1:38). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). Thus, in the closest union possible between two human beings, Christ began, with Mary, the work of our salvation. The Christ’s heart-beats are those of the heart of Mary, the prayer of Christ is the prayer of Mary, the joys of Christ are the joys of Mary; it was from Mary that Christ received the Body and Blood that are to be poured out and offered for the salvation of the world. Hence, Mary, made one with Christ, is the Co-redemptrix of the human race. With Christ in her womb, with Jesus Christ in her arms, with Christ at Nazareth and in his public life; with Christ she climbed the hill of Calvary, she suffered and agonized with Him, receiving into her Immaculate Heart the last sufferings of Christ, his last words, his last agony and the last drops of his Blood, in order to offer them to the Father. (11)
Sr. Lucia’s commentary on the Presentation describes the Mother’s knowledge of the eventual fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy and her expiatory offering “with Jesus” as Co-redemptrix of humanity:
Mary knows that this prophecy is to be fulfilled in the person of her Son; she knows that He has been sent by God to carry out the work of our redemption. And far from wanting to save Him from such pain and suffering, she takes Him in her pure arms, brings Him to the temple with her virginal hands and places Him on the altar so that the priest may offer Him to the eternal Father as an expiatory victim and a sacrifice of praise.
Here, Mary does not simply offer her Son, she offers herself with Christ, because Jesus had received his body and blood from her; thus she offers herself in and with Christ to God, Co-redemptrix, with Christ, of humanity. (12)
The powerful intercession by Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, in no way violates the scriptural revelation of 1 Timothy 2:5 of Christ, the One Mediator. Rather the Mother’s subordinate participation in the mediation of Christ leads to the fulfillment of the redemptive mission of the One Mediator. (13) Sr. Lucia defends the Mother of God’s intercessory power in virtue of her prior mission as Co-redemptrix:
There is, thus, only one divine Mediator: Jesus Christ; but as supplicant intercessors we have Mary, the Saints, and each one of us, if we so wish. St. Paul himself, in various passages in his letters, asks people to pray both for him and for one another. “To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:18-20).
So if the Apostle tells us to pray for one another, we have much more reason to ask Mary to pray for us, because her prayer will be much more pleasing to the Lord in view of her dignity as Mother of God and her closer union with Christ, true God and true Man, by reason of her mission of Co-redemptrix with Christ as well as of her great sanctity. (14)
In the Fatima visionary’s discussion of Our Lady’s Assumption, she incorporates the coredemptive battle prophesied in Genesis 3:15, and the victorious “woman.” The predestined Co-redemptrix of the human race is the first fruit of the Redemption, and hence could not remain in the “shadow of death”:
As soon as the first sin which brought condemnation on human beings had been committed, God, speaking to the Devil who had taken the form of a serpent and who had incited the first human beings to do evil, said to him: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
This woman, predestined by God to give Christ a human nature and to be, with Him, Co-redemptrix of the human race—“I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers”—this woman, He said, could not remain in the shadow of death, because she did not incur the sentence of punishment. Hence Mary is the first fruit of the Redemption wrought by Christ; and, through his merits, she was carried up to Heaven in body and soul, where she lives and reigns, in God, with her Son and his. (15)
The Fatima “call to holiness” voiced by the Carmelite visionary offers the Mother Co-redemptrix as our exemplary model in seeking holiness within the framework of our God-given vocations, just as the Immaculate Virgin “sanctified herself” as a wife and mother:
Our Lady sanctified herself as a pure and immaculate virgin by corresponding to the graces which God granted to her in that state. She sanctified herself as a faithful and devoted wife by fulfilling all the duties of her state in life. She sanctified herself as a loving mother who dedicated herself to the Son whom God entrusted to her, fondling Him in her arms, bringing Him up and educating Him, and also helping Him and following Him in the performance of his mission. With Him she traveled the narrow way of life, the rugged road to Calvary; with Him she agonized, receiving in her heart the wounds of the nails, the piercing of the lance and the insults of the hostile crowd; finally, she sanctified herself as mother, mistress and guide of the Apostles, agreeing to remain on earth for as long as God wished, in order to accomplish the mission which He had entrusted to her as Co-redemptrix with Christ of all human beings. (16)
Finally, Sr. Lucia evokes the calling of all Christians to become co-redeemers in the work of salvation. What is our contribution to Redemption, she asks, and how can it be mysteriously efficacious for others? She answers with exceptional humility, and yet with penetrating insight into Redemption, the unity of the Two Hearts, and our Eucharistic Jesus, given to us by the Virgin Mother Co-redemptrix:
And our own contribution? It is our humble prayer, our poor little acts of self-denial which we must unite with the prayer and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation, and for the salvation of our poor brothers and sisters who have wandered away from the one true path that leads to Life.
At this point, I ask myself: Why is it that, since the merits and prayer of Jesus Christ are sufficient to make reparation for and to save the world, the Message invokes the merits of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and calls on us, too, to pray, to make sacrifices, to offer reparation?
I have to say that I do not know! Nor do I know what explanation the theologians of the Church would give me if I were to ask them. But I have meditated on, and thought about this question. I open the Gospel and I see that from the very beginning Jesus Christ united to his redemptive work the Immaculate Heart of Her whom He chose to be his Mother.
The work of our redemption began at the moment when the Word descended from Heaven in order to assume a human body in the womb of Mary. From that moment, and for the next nine months, the blood of Christ was the blood of Mary, taken from her Immaculate Heart; the Heart of Christ was beating in unison with the Heart of Mary.
And we can think that the aspirations of the Heart of Mary were completely identified with the aspirations of the Heart of Christ. Mary’s ideal had become the same as that of Christ Himself, and the love in the Heart of Mary was the love in the Heart of Christ for the Father and for all human beings; to begin with, the entire work of redemption passed through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, through the bond of her close intimate union with the divine Word.
Since the Father entrusted his Son to Mary, enclosing Him for nine months within her chaste virginal womb—and “All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Mt. 1:22-23; Is. 7:14)—and since Mary of her own free will opened herself entirely to whatever God willed to accomplish in her—“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38) is what she said to the angel—in view of all this and by God’s disposition, Mary became, with Christ, the Co-redemptrix of the human race.
It is the body received from Mary that, in Christ, becomes a victim offered up for the salvation of mankind; it is the blood received from Mary that circulates in Christ’s veins and which pours out from his divine Heart; it is this same body and this same blood, received from Mary, that are given to us, under the appearances of bread and wine, as our daily food, to strengthen within us the life of grace, and so continue in us, members of the Mystical Body of Christ, his redemptive work for the salvation of each and all to the extent to which each one clings to Christ and co-operates with Christ.
Thus, having led us to offer to the Most Holy Trinity the merits of Jesus Christ and those of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who is the Mother of Christ and of his Mystical Body, the Message then goes on to ask us to contribute also the prayers and sacrifices of all of us who are members of that one same Body of Christ received from Mary, made divine in the Word, offered on the Cross, present in the Eucharist, constantly growing in the members of the Church.
Since she is the Mother of Christ and of his Mystical body, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is in some sense the Heart of the Church: and it is here in the heart of the Church that she, always united with Christ, watches over the members of the Church, granting them her maternal protection. Better than anyone, Mary fulfils Christ’s injunction: “Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn. 16:24). It is in the name of Christ, her Son, that Mary intercedes for us with the Father. And it is in the name of Christ, present in the Eucharist and united with us in Holy Communion, that we unite our humble prayers with those of Mary so that She can address them to the Father in Jesus Christ, her Son.
Hence it is that over and over again we beseech Her: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Ave Maria! (17)
This article is from the fifteenth chapter of “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship Publications, 2003. The book is available from Queenship.
(1) July 13, 1917 Fatima apparition, cf. A. Martins, S.J., Novos Documentos de Fátima, Porto, 1984, translated into English as Documents on Fatima and the Memoirs of Sister Lucia, Fatima Family Apostolate, 1992, p. 401.
(2) Technically an apparition message from the “Angel of Peace” (not directly from Our Lady, but at the same time part of the Fatima message), Second 1916 Fatima apparition, cf. Documents on Fatima and the Memoirs, p. 396.
(3) May 13, 1917 Fatima apparition, cf. Documents on Fatima and the Memoirs, p. 399.
(5) John Paul II, Beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, May 13, 2000, L’Osservatore Romano, May 17, 2000.
(6) For reference, the first two parts of the July 13 message are given here, followed by the “Third Part.” Reference to particular sufferings by the Holy Father are contained in the July 13 message and also in the “Third Part” of the secret of Fatima, released by John Paul II on May 13, 2000, and published in the June 28, 2000, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, followed by the Vatican commentary on the Third Part which cited Sr. Lucia’s identification of the “bishop in white” as specifically referring to John Paul II:
Some moments after we arrived at Cova da Iria, near the holm oak amongst a big crowd of people, when we were praying the Rosary, we saw the radiance of light and afterwards our Lady over the holm oak.
“What do you want of me?” I asked.
“I want you to come here on the thirteenth day of the coming month, and to 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. For she alone will be able to help.”
“I wish to ask you to tell us who you are and to perform a miracle so that everyone will believe that you appeared to us!”
“Continue to come here every month. In October I will tell you who I am and what I wish, and I will perform a miracle that everyone will see in order to make them believe.”
Here I made some requests that I don’t remember exactly. What I remember is that our Lady said it was necessary to say the Rosary to obtain graces during the year. And she went on, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: ‘Jesus it is for Your love, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’”
When the Lady spoke these last words she opened her hands as she had in the two months before. The radiance seemed to penetrate the ground and we saw something like 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 a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. It must have been when I saw this sight that I cried out, ‘Alas!’ which people say they heard.
The devils were distinguished by horrible and loathsome forms of animals, frightful and unknown, but transparent like black coals that have turned red hot. Frightened, and as if we were appealing for help, we raised our eyes to our Lady who said with tenderness and sadness:
“You saw hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If they do what I will tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war is going to end. But if they do not stop offending God, another even worse war will begin in the reign of Pius XI.
When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
To prevent this I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will scatter her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated. In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal the dogma of Faith will always be kept. Tell this to no one. Francisco, yes, you may tell him. When you say the Rosary, say after each mystery, ‘O my Jesus, pardon us and deliver us from the fire of hell. Draw all souls to heaven, especially those in most need.’”
After a short period of silence, I asked, “Do you want nothing more of me?”
“No, today I want nothing more of you.”
And as usual, she began to arise towards the east and disappeared in the immense distance of the firmament.
The Third Part of the secret released by John Paul II in 2000 reads as follows:
J.M.J. The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917.
I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
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 splendour 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.
(7) July 13, 1917 Fatima apparition, cf. Documents on Fatima and the Memoirs, p. 401.
(8) October 13, 1917 Fatima apparition, cf. Documents on Fatima and the Memoirs, p. 405.
(9) July 13, 1917 Fatima apparition, cf. Documents on Fatima and the Memoirs, p. 402.
(10) Sr. Lucia, “Calls” From the Message of Fatima, Ravengate Press, 2002, originally published in Portuguese under the title Apelos da Messagem de Fatima.
(11) Sr. Lucia, “Calls” From the Message of Fatima, p. 137.
(12) Ibid., p. 279.
(13) Cf. Lumen Gentium, 61, 62.
(14) Sr. Lucia, “Calls” From the Message of Fatima, p. 266.
(15) Ibid., p. 295.
(16) Ibid., p. 195.
(17) Ibid., pp. 114-116.
Originally from: Fifth Marian Dogma (USA)