The Fatima Prophecies could best be described as the proverbial enigma; wrapped in riddle, surrounded by mystery. Much has been speculated as to the whether the original prophecy has been doctored or changed to suit a more positive image of the Catholic Church and countless differences in interpretation have followed these prophecies.
If you want an in depth history of the prophecies, check out Wikipedia. The cliff notes version is basically this:
In 1917 in Fatima, Portugal (hence the name), three children; Lucia Santos, Jacinta Marto, and her cousin Francisco Marto claim to have seen an apparition while attending sheep and this apparition was indeed The Virgin Mary shining bright like a crystal ball in the noonday sun. The apparition then spoke to the children, giving them three separate messages to tell the Catholic Church. The apparition later came to be known as 'Our Lady of Fatima', and the words that were believed to have been spoken to the children came to be known as the three secrets of Fatima.
Thousands of individuals eventually flocked to Fatima upon hearing that this event took place. Later in the year a 'miracle of the sun' supposedly took place, giving evidence that this event actually took place. Eyewitness reported that the sun 'danced' in the sky and said this was the sign from the Lady Fatima to believe the words of the prophecies given to the three children. No scientifically verifiable physical evidence was obtained to juxtapose the eyewitnesses testimony. However the events transpired the Catholic church officially declared that the apparitions were 'worthy of belief.'
On 12 and 13 May 2010, Pope Benedict XVI had visited the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima and strongly stated his acceptance about the supernatural origin of the Fatima is undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions. The first and second parts of the “secret”—which are here published in sequence so as to complete the documentation—refer especially to the frightening vision of hell, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Second World War, and finally the prediction of the immense damage that Russia would do to humanity by abandoning the Christian faith and embracing Communist totalitarianism.
The three secrets are as follows. They were delivered to the Vatican by sealed envelope shortly after the encounters in 1917. Much is made of the third secret due to the fact that it was not released for the public to see until the year 2000 by the Vatican.
Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. 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. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.
We then 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. 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. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world”.(7)
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.
The main reason for the delay of the third secret had to do with the fact that the original three Fatima's did come with a time table. Apparently, Sister Lucia wrote the outside of the envelope that it could be opened only after 1960, either by the Patriarch of Lisbon or the Bishop of Leiriaworthy to make it known in 2000. The popes interpreted this part differently, hence the delay.Third Prophecy Interpretation:
The Church did not release this Fatima secret until after the attempted assassination of John Paul II, which occurred on May 13, 1981. This of course puts speculation on the validity once more of these apparitions. John Paul II gave importance to the Fatima and it was apparently a medal from the shrine (erected in Fatima, Portugal where the event occurred) that stopped the bullet from the assassination attempt on John Paul II. Reportedly, without that medal the bullet would have done far more damage to his heart. He later placed the bullet that hit him as part of the Fatima Shrine.
A short link here on the many interpretations concerning this third prophecy was published in a ChristianityToday News Article shortly after the release in 2000.
Speculation and Intrigue
Yet Another part to this third Fatima is intriguing, largely due to the fact that many doubt the Catholic Church actually has revealed the entire Fatima and not just the parts that build up a positive image of the institution. Some speculation exists that the third Fatima says more about unsettled and troubled future times. Some Catholics have assumed that the prophecy referrs to a future pope who turned evil, attacked the Jews and brought down the RC church
In line with this view comes an odd opinion that has made the rounds, coming a little bit from left field:
For years the text of the original message was distorted or outright changed all together . Catholics like to quote the line about the Black so called pope who does heinous harm to the Jews. In fact it says “Black King secret son of Mohamed.” I believe it is talking about Barack Hussein Obama.
The Fatima Prophecy is indeed surrounded by intrigue and mystery. Many people still make a pilgrimage to Fatima each year to pay their respects. Could it have been a real apparition of Mary? Perhaps. However, if appears that these prophecies are so nebulous as to leave plenty of doubt as to their validity. To see the Catholic Church's commentary on the topic, visit the Message of Fatima.